How Does Foster Care Affect Your Children?

Two years ago, our family started the domestic adoption process in which we planned to adopt a healthy infant. As often is the case, the Lord had a different plan for us. Our perspective changed when we heard Him saying, “It’s not about bringing a child to your family; it’s about bringing your family to a child.”

This whole idea sent us on a journey to foster care, which culminated back in April when we joyfully welcomed two little boys (brothers) into our family. A few months later, their sister joined our clan, changing our family dynamic significantly. Our kids are seven, five, and four, and we now had a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old! Yes, that is 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1! Craziness!

A question we are often asked is, “How has this affected your children?” Actually, we have all been affected! We have been stretched, and honestly, there are times when we wish things could just go back to normal. Sometimes life feels too complicated, too messy, and too hard. Yet, we would do it all again because this is what God has called us to and He is changing us in the process.

The first day our foster son joined our family, our daughter asked him, “Do you know Jesus?” He stared at her blankly then, but now when we talk about how Jesus loves him, his eyes light up. This is what it’s about! And when I struggle, I have to remember that this is why we’re here. As parents, I think it is natural to want to protect our kids from anything hard or uncomfortable, yet those challenges may be the very thing that teaches them to trust in Jesus.

Our kids are serving the “least of these” right along with us. It has been amazing to watch them care for their foster siblings as their own. I love hearing them pray for the children in foster care who don’t have families to love them. I love watching them wave each other off to school or run to one another after they have spent time away.

So how have our kids been affected? Better than I ever could have imagined! Their eyes have been opened, and their hearts have been changed. They are experiencing firsthand how the Lord abundantly blesses obedience. They are literally being the hands and feet of Jesus to their world, right in our home.

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. … Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes,” Isaiah 58:10, 12 (NLT) [emphasis mine].

This post is a part of our feature series this month on adoption and foster care. Learn how you can help make an impact during National Adoption Awareness Month in November and find ideas on teaching your children about the plight of orphans in the world with our Guide to Teaching Your Children about Orphans.

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10 thoughts on “How Does Foster Care Affect Your Children?

  1. I was in foster care for a few years as a child and am so thankful when I hear of Christian families answering this call. It is so important for foster kids to have a positive home experience. We foster a teen mom and her baby right now and I agree that it is good for our kids. We need to not be scared to expose our kids to ministry..how else can they firsthand experience God's redemptive power?

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  2. Melissa, i just had to say hi to you! Thank you for the encouragement. Coming from someone who experienced foster care firsthand, it means a lot! Love that you are serving now as you care for the teen mom and her babe! You are being His hands and feet!!

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  3. The Lord placed adoption on my heart nearly 40 years ago and foster care about 30 years ago when I myself was a child. We have been foster/adopt parents for 2 years. Our first child was a very difficult situation, yet my sons (ages 12 and 10) prayed for him and didn't push him away. We made the hard decision to have him move to another foster home after a year with us, yet my children are still eager to continue foster care and adoption. My eldest son said, "Mom, now we know what we can and can't handle, that's all." They see the ministry in that when he came to us, he knew nothing of Christ and, by the time he left, he was asking to pray and we jokingly called him a little preacher!

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    • Becky – it is the coolest thing to be able to teach these kids about the Lord. Kids who have never even heard about Him. It's an amazing and challenging opportunity. I love what your son said too. Such wisdom! :) Thanks for sharing. Bless you in your journey ahead!

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  4. Great post, Jami! I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes we try to protect our kids too much and we end up losing them. My friend once observed that pastors' kids seem to leave the Lord when they grow up more often than missionarys' kids do. She wondered about that for awhile and then concluded that the kids are typically more involved in a missionary's ministry, where they can experience the battles being fought between good and evil on a first-hand basis.

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    • Thanks Margie! That's a really interesting thought. I do know that our kids' eyes are being opened at the same time ours are – they are right in the trenches with us. Today Paige (our 7 year old) took a poster to school that said, "Please help orphans!" I love my little orphan advocate! Have a great day!!

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  5. Jami, you know I love your heart for orphans and the "least of these." I loved seeing first hand your children love them like Jesus too! You are a blessing to all who meet you and read your writing!

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  6. Jami, this could be our story. I have 4 biological children ages 14, 7, 4, and 21 months. We have 4 foster children (actually related to us) ages 5, 4, 3 and 28 months. So our lineup is 14, 7, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2 and 1. I can definitely relate to all that you shared. And the same thing has happened at my house. My children have learned compassion and long-suffering and how to minister to the needs of others. And yes, there are moments when we think how "easy" life would be if it was "just our 4", but then we see the smiles & get the hugs & hear little voices singing "Jesus loves me", and we realize all the extra work is worth it!

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