The Lenhart Family

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nameless Faceless Babies

“Over one third of all Americans have considered adopting or fostering but less than two percent ever actually do.”  This statistic popped up on my Facebook feed earlier this week and I can NOT stop thinking about it. This statistic has haunted my heart all week. What prevents would be adoptive or foster parents from taking that step and moving into action? As a foster and adoptive mom, I can come up with a list a mile long of barriers that stand in the way. When God placed a call to adopt and foster upon our lives, I had my own personal and extensive list of excuses that I was prepared to rattle off to God every time I felt Him tug at my heart for the orphan. When you are “considering”, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the process and paperwork. Overwhelmed by the financial aspect. Overwhelmed by what people will think. Overwhelmed by the naysayers. Overwhelmed by an unseen future. Overwhelmed by the vastness of the need!!

I love the movement that I have seen within the church over the last decade to rise up and take to heart the commands about caring for the orphaned, widowed, and fatherless. The church has been caring for orphans for centuries but I think we just forgot about it for a minute.  The cross, in its reunification and redemption, is orphan and foster care at its best! But I wonder how many believers get stuck in the “considering” phase. It is easy admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. The great tragedy of the church is not that Christians do not care about the fatherless but that Christians do not KNOW the fatherless.

A fellow foster mom and dear friend of mine and I were lamenting the other day about how hard tempting it is to dishonor the confidentiality agreement we sign as foster parents. When you have the cutest child on the planet living in your home, you want to show them off (but you cannot share their precious faces or names or cute little corks on social media). You want this precious child to be known, not for selfish or vain motives, but because you are utterly convinced that if they were KNOWN the shelters would be empty and our homes would be full. If the public knew what a blessing it is to foster, if they looked into these babies beautiful brown eyes, if they held their chubby little hands, if they heard their precious little prayers the foster care crisis would not exist. If only they were not nameless faceless babies, if only they were KNOWN…

David Platt said it best when he said, “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”

Disclaimer: I am not trying to guilt anyone into doing anything! Guilt is not a sustaining motivator. I will be the first to admit that not everyone can or should foster or adopt. But there are sooooo many other ways to love on orphans outside of opening your home to them.

I ask you, no I urge you, to watch this video. It's 12 minutes long and it presents the plight of many kids growing up in the foster care system. Children in your neighborhood, in your churches, in your child's classroom are living and breathing this "nightmare" that they consider "normal" life. They are removed from their home, their parents, the familiar in the middle of the night. They are separated from their siblings. The "lucky ones" get placed in a strangers home but many of them will be placed in a shelter. If there is no room at the local shelter (which all too often is the case), they get to spend the night sleeping in at DHS office and then possibly moved a shelter in another part of the state the next morning. They travel with whatever belongings they managed to grab in the rushed chaos when they were removed from their home. Their belongings are carried around in a trash bag (a trash bag!! what kind of message does that send to them about their value and worth? a trash bag for God's sake!). For the "lucky ones" placed in traditional foster homes rather the group homes, institutions, or shelters... statistics show that they will not be there long enough to become settled or create any sense of stability because the average child in foster care for greater than 18 months has three or MORE placements.

Many foster children enter a system in which further damage, trauma, and abuse are heaped upon their already wounded hearts. This is one of their stories...

Like a ostrich who buries their head in the sand, we can not pretend away the plight of the precious children growing up in the foster care system allowing them to remain nameless faceless babies anymore.  

Once our eyes are opened,
we can't pretend we don't know what to do.
God, who weighs our heart and keeps ours souls,
knows that we know and hold us responsible to act.
~Proverbs 24:12