Foster Care matters to me, and I think it should matter to you too.
I never wanted to be a foster parent. It’s not that I was against it, but it’s something I had never considered. My wife, before we were even married, shared her desire to help children and families through foster care and adoption. Again, I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t put much thought into it after that conversation. Fast-forward a few years, and my wife brought it up again. “What if we were houseparents?” She showed me a few places online, and I ended up being on board. We packed up all our stuff and our dog, and moved from Burtchville, Michigan to Clinton, South Carolina. Over 4 years and 67 kids later, foster care is my life. We loved being family teachers at Thornwell and loved the privilege of caring for so many amazing kiddos. We’ve seen the incredible growth in the lives of children who have come from very tragic situations. We have felt the sadness, confusion, and anger of kids who had been mistreated by the ones they loved. We’ve experienced the joy of families being reunited. It’s a scary roller coaster, but it’s 100% worth it.
That’s why it matters to me, but why should it matter to you?
There are about 430,000 children in foster care nationwide, a number which has been rising for the past few years. That’s about the same as the populations of Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, and Rock Hill combined. That’s a really big and scary number, but I’ll try to simplify it. As of last month, there were 467 kids in foster care in Spartanburg County and only 194 licensed foster homes. That means that additional 273 foster homes are needed just to meet the current need. Wherever you live, there is a need for foster parents. There are children in your community who need a safe, stable, loving home.
Children who age out of foster care without a forever family are much more likely to end up unemployed, in prison, or pregnant as a teenager. This should matter to you, because if someone can reach these kids and change some of these statistics, our communities will be much better off. Less crime, less unemployment and homelessness, less unplanned pregnancies, and many other societal issues can be improved by a strong foster care community. Being willing to help those in your own neighborhood who may be struggling can have so many benefits beyond just helping a child (which is totally worth it on it’s own). You’re helping a family heal, and a community come together.
So how can you help? You can become a foster parent. Contact us and get more information about how you can begin the process. If you can’t become a foster parent, then support foster parents. Find out who in your church, school, or neighborhood are already fostering, and ask them how you can help. Ask your local foster care agency (like Thornwell) or foster parent association what needs they have, and do your best to meet those needs. There are dozens of ways that you can help foster parents around you. If you want more ideas, contact me and I’d love to help you get started!