Join co-hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber as they discuss six thoughts to consider before becoming a foster parent. God uses willing hearts to help His little ones and where He leads He provides but there are things to consider before starting this journey. Foster Care impacts the entire family and here are six things to discuss if you feel led to foster care.

Suggested Resources:

  • Make Your Move – Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures by Lynn Cowell. www.Thomasnelson.com
  • Faith to Foster by TJ & Jenn Menn. Abeille Books

For more information on adoption and foster care ministries, visit sendrelief.org/foster-care-adoption/.

Get your church involved with Send Relief’s Foster Care and Adoption Prayer Guide.

Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we’re here to support and encourage you along the way. Now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.

Tera Melber: Welcome back to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. Today, Lynette and I want to talk to you about some thoughts to consider before becoming a foster parent. I just think, Lynette, this is really important that you’ve got to really think through, pray through, and know that the Lord’s calling you to do this.

Lynette Ezell: I totally agree. Yeah.

Tera Melber: There’s some important things. We’ve come up with six that we want to talk about today of things that we wanna consider. The very first thing that we want to do before we become foster parents is spend some time in prayer.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. That’s right. This will be your greatest tool-

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: In deciding if your family is ready to take in a foster child, because everything’s about to change.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: We don’t wanna get ahead of the Lord, but we also wanna be brave to step out and obey.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: The Lord longs for our families to come before him, united in prayer, seeking his heart. Through prayer, his mighty hand can navigate our lives and then his desires become our desires.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: James 5:16 says that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Tera Melber: That’s right. King David echoed this in the psalms when he said, “You guide me with your counsel.” He said it again in Psalm 91:11 when he said, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I love the passage as well in the Bible that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord-”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: “And he will give you the desires of your heart.” That doesn’t mean the desires of your personal self-will.

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: It means that, as you’re praying and seeking after the Lord, that just as you said, your desires come into line with his perfect will for your family. If you can put a stake in the ground, we’ve said this before, and know at a time that the Lord has called your family and you agree with your husband, if you’re married, that this the way to walk, then when times are difficult-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: And you run into the challenges with the child or with adults who are in the court system, then you can still know and look back, “Yes. The Lord did indeed call us to this even though it’s hard.”

Lynette Ezell: Because prayer’s going to be a daily habit.

Tera Melber: Absolutely.

Lynette Ezell: It’s not just praying before you go into it.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: It’s praying through it.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: Through all of it, and like you’ve heard us share us before, we got the kids around the ottoman.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: We prayed and man, it just gave me a lot of confidence.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Some days when I was struggling or uncertain, “Lord, we sought you. We know you’ve called-”

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: “We’ve called … you’ve called us to this.”

Tera Melber: There will be others who wonder what in the world you’re doing.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: You do have to have the confidence that this is indeed what the Lord asked you to do. When people start saying, “Why are you doing this?” Or, “What are you thinking?” Then you can know without a shadow of a doubt, this is what the Lord’s called us to do, whether it’s hard, whether it’s … no matter what we have to face. We’re going to be able to do this, and the Lord will grow us through it.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. Before moving forward in foster care, we must be sure we are saturating this decision in prayer and allowing the Lord to direct every single move.

Tera Melber: That’s right. That’s right. Lynette, what’s another thing we should think about before becoming foster parents?

Lynette Ezell: What I’ve seen walking with foster families and you and I working in adoption so long, are you able to be flexible?

Tera Melber: I think that’s a big one.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. I cannot express the importance of this.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: The first few days of a placement will trump everything in your normal daily routine-

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: Of life.

Tera Melber: That’s right because you could get a child … get a call to take a child in at a moment’s notice, so-

Lynette Ezell: Yep.

Tera Melber: You get a call and they say, “We’re coming over in two hours.” Or, “They’ll be there in the morning.” Or, “We’ll be there at 11:00 o’clock at night.

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: Everything changes at the drop of a hat.

Lynette Ezell: In those first few days there has to be a doctor visit.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: In the next 24-48 hours-

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: A visit from a social worker, a visit from your agency if you’re using one, and there’s got to be a school plan made-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Or childcare.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Those plans have to be in process and executed pretty quickly.

Tera Melber: Often times, too, by the end of that second week, you’ve got to be in court or have the child at a hearing or a family visitation is scheduled or their follow-up appointments.

Lynette Ezell: Mm-hmm.

Tera Melber: You have to know, when you get that call, whether you’ve got one child in your home that’s your biological child or you’ve got four biological children, and then you’re receiving three foster kids-

Lynette Ezell: Wow.

Tera Melber: It’s getting ready to get crazy.

Lynette Ezell: It’s divide and conquer at that point. It really is.

Tera Melber: It really is.

Lynette Ezell: Flexibility is a must because situations change and the children are always the ones caught in the middle. It’s imperative that foster parents, that we as parents, remain calm and steady for the child that’s caught in this uncertain, painful situation.

Tera Melber: That’s exactly right and children don’t often … they’re not able to verbalize how I’m feeling or their behaviors always … there’s always a need behind their behaviors.

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Tera Melber: If they’re acting out in a certain way, it’s not because they’re trying to be defiant at the beginning. It’s … there’s a need behind it. They’re scared-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: For goodness sake. They’re in a brand new situation with people they’ve never met before. Life is going to be different, and we have to be flexible. If you feel like you’re a 100% not flexible person, maybe you should help with wraparound care of the foster family.

Lynette Ezell: Exactly. Exactly. Rely on the Holy Spirit to keep you calm and flexible.

Tera Melber: That’s right. Well, the third thing that we’ve got written down here is that … I think is super important. We talk about this a lot too. Do you have a support system?

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: What do you mean by that?

Lynette Ezell: Well, in your foster training, if you’ve gone through the training, you were probably advised … we were advised-

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: When we were going through adoption to make a list of friends and family members who are willing to help you.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: This is very important.

Tera Melber: Not just people who say, “Oh, I’ll help if you need anything.”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: I’m talking like your hardcore people that call you-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: When your hairs in a ponytail and you don’t have any makeup on.

Lynette Ezell: Yes. You write their name down and their phone number-

Tera Melber: Yeah.

Lynette Ezell: And how they wanna help you-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: And maybe what days they’re available.

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: Take it a step further.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Because fostering a child from a broken place truly is being the hands and feet of Jesus, but we need others to help keep our arms raised. We talk about that all the time-

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: How Moses needed help to keep his arms up. Fostering is full of beautiful moments-

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: In redemption, but we need community to stay the course.

Tera Melber: It’s so important. You’ve got to have those resources written down. Lynette and I’ve said this in the past, but even with our adoptions, they gave us this list. Our agency did-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: And said, “I want you to fill this in before your child even comes into your home. Who are you going to call if this happens? Who are you going to call-”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: “If that happens?” That could be everybody from your … the guardian ad litem, which is the attorney for your child, or is it your foster care advocate from your agency, or who’s the pediatrician that’s going to best suit you here?

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: But then, who’s going to be the person who, when, I’ve got three kids at football, basketball, and dance, and I get a phone call that says I’ve got to have the child for court in … tomorrow. Who am I going to call to say, “Hey. I need some help picking up my kids from practice?”

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. That’s right. The Lord reminded the early church, “Carry each other’s burdens.”

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: “In this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2. Back again to what we say, “Not everyone’s called to foster-”

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: “But everyone can do something.”

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Everyone’s called to do something within the body of Christ.

Tera Melber: That’s right. When your child’s entering the home, it’s not the time to-

Lynette Ezell: No.

Tera Melber: Think about your resources. Have the conversations with your family and friends now and know who you can count on.

Lynette Ezell: That way you won’t grow weary-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: 2 Thessalonians 3:13, “You will not grow weary in doing good.” Yeah, you’re going to get tired-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: But weary is, to me, just being at a loss, like, “I just can’t go forward.”

Tera Melber: Right, hiding in your closet.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Yeah. When you have your … the body of Christ supporting you or sweet friends and neighbors, when you have that wraparound care, when you have that help, when you have a … I had a great pediatrician in Louisville that I knew I could go to. That took me miles down the road.

Tera Melber: Right. Absolutely. It’s such a beautiful way for your church family to get involved and everybody being able to get involved, senior saints helping you out with-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Watching your kids for a little bit or just your friends in your small group being able to wraparound. It’s such a neat way to see the body of Christ really serving each other.

Lynette Ezell: You know, another thing we need to think about is are you able to financially support or provide basic needs for another child. Now, why do you feel that’s important?

Tera Melber: Well, you know state … in all states, if you’re fostering, you do receive a stipend. It’s a daily stipend, but it’s really not that much.

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: Honestly.

Lynette Ezell: No.

Tera Melber: It’s really not. Often times, well, always, it’s a reimbursement system.

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: If your child comes into your home and they are at your house with their pajamas on and that’s all they’ve got, you’ve got to get them some clothes.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: They have to have something to wear or if you’ve got a baby that has diapers and wipes and formula, you’re buying all of that.

Lynette Ezell: Upfront, yeah.

Tera Melber: Then you turn in the receipt and you receive the reimbursement. If you’re not able to do that, this might not be the thing for you.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Don’t hear us, you don’t have-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: To be wealthy to foster.

Tera Melber: Oh heavens, no.

Lynette Ezell: Right. We don’t wanna take a child out of a neglectful situation only to place them in a home where their basic needs cannot be met.

Tera Melber: Right. Right. The state is good about helping you with what they can-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: With the capped reimbursement system. It is beneficial, but you do have to realize that everything comes upfront. Even if that means looking for the resources ahead of time to be able to help you … we had a senior adult in our church who provided diapers with Amazon Prime and just had them sent to the foster mom’s-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. I love that story.

Tera Melber: Front door. So great.

Lynette Ezell: Such a great idea.

Tera Melber: There are ways to do it, you just have to be creative.

Lynette Ezell: That goes back to your community of care.

Tera Melber: Exactly.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. You know, the Lord calls us to be wise, while reminding us that where he leads-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: He provides. Philippians 4:13-

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.”

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: We’re going to rely on the Lord’s provision and we’re going to plan ahead to provide for another’s needs.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: We’re got to plan.

Tera Melber: That’s right. Right. We’re going to keep supply … keep supplies on hand. We’re going to make our needs known and not feel prideful that we-

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: Shouldn’t make the needs known. We’re going to accept from others, which is really hard to do sometimes-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: And we’re going to be generous-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: As believers. We’re going to share with others our needs.

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: Well, I think too, one of the things that we’ve talked about is that as a foster parent, you have to learn how to hold things loosely.

Lynette Ezell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You do.

Tera Melber: When we’re talking about things, holding things loosely, what do you mean by that?

Lynette Ezell: Well, referring to material things, our stuff is not more important than a child.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: You got to get your home ready, kind of.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: When my littles are coming over, my grandchildren, I call them my littles, when they’re coming over, my little baby bunnies, I have to childproof my home a little bit.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: There’s some little pretties sitting around that if … one of my granddaughters, she just loves them and when she’s playing with them if they get chipped, I don’t really care.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: I think that kind of adds a little character to them. Some things you know that you need to put up. Our stuff’s not more important than a child. After the child’s in your home a few days, give them some time, clear boundaries can be set.

Tera Melber: Right. That’s true, but if there are things that are super important to you, a family heirloom-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Or something that’s really valuable to you-

Lynette Ezell: Put it up.

Tera Melber: Put it away.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: It’s really fine because if you think about it, these children who’ve been in neglectful situations, caring for things-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Is really not necessarily, especially for littles, is really not even in their thought process.

Lynette Ezell: No.

Tera Melber: They’ve not potentially had to take care of things or they’ve not had new things so they don’t know how to take care of it, so it’s a whole new teaching lesson for them.

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: One of the things that we can do is when we reference for caring for things is that we can provide them with new outfits or a pair of pajamas to call their own, or a new backpack to store their things in and they can have their own little set of items that belong to them where they can learn how to take care of-

Lynette Ezell: Start training-

Tera Melber: Items.

Lynette Ezell: To take care of few things.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Get them an age appropriate Bible of their own. Write their name in it.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lynette Ezell: Use … if they’re little, use their little hand and show them how to write their name. Read it to them. Then, teach them how to handle that one item with care, begin to train them to take care of things.

Tera Melber: That’s right. What about holding things loosely as far as your schedule or not even the schedule? I’m thinking more about holding things loosely like not having control over what’s going to-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Go down with these kids.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Yeah. That’s very important because the Lord sees the beginning to the end.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: He reigns in the middle, but he doesn’t give us the answers right-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Then, does he?

Tera Melber: No.

Lynette Ezell: We just have to … just daily, back to our prayer-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: That we said at the beginning of our podcast. We just have to be in prayer and trust him with the details.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think this goes back to many of praying and being flexible, for sure, because things are not always gonna go as we see planned.

Lynette Ezell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tera Melber: You may be having supervised visits with family and then you think that they shouldn’t and so, they then go to overnight visits and-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: You’re thinking, “What in the world?” We have to finally, when we’re thinking about-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: The last point to consider, is to get to the heart of the matter and be honest with yourself and ask yourself, this is going to be a stab in the heart-

Lynette Ezell: It is.

Tera Melber: How self-absorbed are you?

Lynette Ezell: Meaning it’s not about you-

Tera Melber: That’s a stinker.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. It’s not about me. It’s not about you, right?

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Just as you were saying, Tera, social workers and judges were … will more than likely make decisions for your foster child that go against your preference.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: And, may go against your better judgment.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: It may break your heart.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: You and I’ve seen that with so many families.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: It’s really hard for them, but the goal of foster care is reunification as far as the state is concerned.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: We have to keep that in mind. The goal of foster care is reunification with their birth parents. Decisions will be made to that end.

Tera Melber: Honestly, Lynette, the deal is that if the birth parents can learn and grow, that should be our goal-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: Is to go into it hoping and praying that families can be restored. That’s really the goal. Often times, we can get into it and think, “Oh. I don’t … I wouldn’t like that they were doing something because it’s not the way I would do it.”

Lynette Ezell: Right.

Tera Melber: But the deal is that children will thrive best-

Lynette Ezell: Yes.

Tera Melber: In their healthy, biological families.

Lynette Ezell: Right. I had a social worker tell me one time, “We have in our brain that we think, ‘Okay. I have an A family.’”

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: “‘I run everything really well. I’m an A family.’” They may go back to a grade C family-

Tera Melber: Yeah.

Lynette Ezell: But that’s okay.

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: I’ll be honest, I’m not always an A family.

Tera Melber: Girl, me either.

Lynette Ezell: But no matter how hurtful your foster child’s home may have been, their birth parents are at the core-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Of their little hearts.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: It consumes their thoughts. They’re thinking about their birth parents all the time, whether they mention them or not.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: They are. They’re thinking, “When can I go home?”

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: Therefore, foster kids may say things that are hurtful.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: It’s not about you.

Tera Melber: Nope.

Lynette Ezell: It’s not about us.

Tera Melber: We’re not the target of their frustration. We have to learn to not take things personally. Their situation was broken long before foster mom and dad entered-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Their lives, but the Lord is using your family to bring healing into their life. You’re a part of the restoration story.

Lynette Ezell: Yes. Yes. The Lord’s training me through this process.

Tera Melber: Oh, right.

Lynette Ezell: He’s using fostering and adopting or just doing wraparound care to a foster family to get me beyond myself.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: And to begin to minister to others, so he’s changing me. We bring up Mark 9 a lot, but I love that passage.

Tera Melber: It says, “He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but he who sent me.’”

Lynette Ezell: Oh. That’s just … in the midst of all his business-

Tera Melber: Mm-hmm.

Lynette Ezell: Jesus stopped to give the disciples this lesson-

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: That others are precious-

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: And that children are precious and are to be cared for. We bring him honor when we do that.

Tera Melber: Well, as we’ve said on this podcast before, sometimes you just have to move forward in fear and do it even through you’re scared.

Lynette Ezell: Yep, been there.

Tera Melber: If you know the Lord’s calling you to widen your tent and foster a child, then the best and most appropriate thing to do is to take the next step forward in obedience-

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Because obedience is what the Lord asks of those who love him.

Lynette Ezell: Every minute, keep in mind listeners, every minute of every day, God calls his people to be brave-

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: And to be an example of his love to a broken world. We can’t do that in just staying comfortable.

Tera Melber: No.

Lynette Ezell: We can’t.

Tera Melber: We can’t.

Lynette Ezell: When we seek him in prayer, when we move beyond our ourselves and open our lives to one of his wounded, he receives the glory.

Tera Melber: That’s right. He’s using plain old people-

Lynette Ezell: Yep.

Tera Melber: Like you and me, and it’s one of God’s most amazing plans.

Lynette Ezell: Yes. “Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause,” Isaiah 1:17.

Speaker 1: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.

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