What the Church needs to know about being called to foster or adopt

How choosing to foster or adopt can be a response to God's call.

At a recent event, we were struck by something one of our supporters shared:

“How do we explain our calling to adopt to our church? If I went to the leaders saying I felt God was leading me to overseas mission or serving with the foodbank I know they would encourage me, but when we said we were feeling called to adoption after having our birth children they just saw it as a ‘nice’ way to grow our family.”

We have had similar questions at other events, and similar experiences have been shared on our enquiry line, so this article is our response. We hope that it encourages and affirms those who feel a call to foster or adopt, and that it encourages and equips churches and church leaders to understand and support.

We know that many churches and church leaders are incredibly supportive and openly acknowledge and affirm fostering and adoption as God’s calling for some families. We also know that, for the most part, the reason why some churches may not yet have done this is simply a lack of opportunity, information or experience, and certainly not a lack of love or care.

Further, we recognise the countless ways in which the people of God can serve Him and His people, and the great ways that the Church, made up of committed and compassionate individuals, engages in ministry and mission in their communities and across the world. What a joy and a privilege that we are invited to be a part of God’s plan of love, grace and mercy, and that the outworking of this is as varied and multi-faceted as Christians themselves.

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
(Hebrews 12.1b)

The Church and the world would be a very dull place if we all followed the same path, and thankfully the great God of the universe has intentionally and lovingly created each one of us for a purpose, to run our race, using the specific gifts and skills He has placed within us. This will therefore be different from person to person and family to family, and we each have the responsibility to respond to whatever it may be that God is laying on our hearts.

Home for Good loves standing alongside many other great initiatives and organisations, and it brings us joy to know that the global Church is striving to feed the hungry, care for the poor and meet the needs of those who are far too often overlooked or forgotten – just as the Bible so clearly calls us to.

Part of this is caring for vulnerable children.

As Krish and Miriam explain in the Home for Good book:

“The more we read the Bible, the more we hear God’s clear message: if you care about worship, you should worship by caring... There are at least forty times where the Bible refers specifically to God’s concern for the ‘orphans’ or the ‘fatherless’. That’s more than the number of times Scripture talks about tithing or taking communion. It’s time to rethink our priorities.” [1]

Fostering and adoption are the current socio-cultural processes by which the people of God can respond to this aspect of our calling as Christians – yes, it is also a way of growing our families and it is also a way of caring for children that have not been born to us biologically – but the heart of fostering and adoption echoes God’s heart of compassion, mercy, and unconditional love and acceptance.

This is not to say everyone should therefore foster or adopt. Once again we remember the ‘race marked out for us’ and appreciate the rich variety of ways that God uses His people, and of course we also recognise the important role of assessing social workers in establishing the suitability of those who step forward to consider this. But as the Church we must acknowledge and affirm that our God who ‘sets the lonely in families’ will call some families to foster or adopt (Psalm 68.6).

People come to fostering and adoption in so many different ways – no journey will be like another. Some may have experienced the pain of infertility (which our friend Sonya has written beautifully about here), some may have witnessed the suffering of vulnerable children in this country or another, some may have become aware through family circumstances, but whatever journey has led people to make this choice, their church community has a significant role to play in supporting and walking with families along this path.

Like so many acts of love and service, fostering or adopting will not be an easy road, although we hope that it will be rich and real and filled with joy.

Families who open their homes and their hearts to care for vulnerable children will need both practical and prayer support from their churches and church leaders, and this can begin the moment they share that they are feeling prompted to explore fostering or adoption. It could be that they need releasing from other tasks or duties, or they need help in preparing their houses, or perhaps it is simply standing with and praying for the family at each stage of the application and assessment process.

We are constantly delighted by the stories we hear of churches wrapping around families who foster or adopt, so we know that this is already happening, and hopefully increasing, across the UK. We love hearing about church leaders preaching on adoption and sharing God’s heart on this Biblical and personal truth. We are overjoyed that so many individuals and families are responding to His call to care for vulnerable children through fostering or adoption.

Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do.

Let’s continue to celebrate the incredible and limitless ways that God uses us, His precious children, to reach and love the world, and let’s recognise the role of fostering and adoption as a significant part of God’s restoration plan.

[1] Krish and Miriam Kandiah, Home for Good (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013) page 3

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