“I could never say goodbye.” A very relatable phrase that is often voiced when considering foster care. The fear that it is too hard to love a child for a season only to say goodbye. The reality is, though, that foster care is signing up for just this: the hope you’ll say goodbye.
You might think, The hope to say goodbye? How could I ever do that? It helps us take a few steps back and remember the original intention of the foster care system: to be a temporary place for children who are experiencing unsafe conditions or unmet needs. It was not meant to be a permanent place for children and the hope is that kids and their parents will be reunited. The most recent statistics show that the state’s goal for majority of children in foster care is reunification. This means the state is working hard for a child to return to their family and believes there is a strong possibility of this happening. God’s people are invited into this work. We recognize that God does not make mistakes when he builds families, and until it is clear that a family cannot be reunified, let us pray and work to the end that kids will get to return home. This does not minimize our celebration of adoption and other outcomes for kids and families (as we will talk about in the coming weeks), but would miss the original goal of foster care if we jumped right to other outcomes.
God desires to see restoration, not just in the children affected by foster care, but in their families too. Reunification is a good goal for kids in foster care, and often will be the primary one. When families reunify, we celebrate God’s restoration in their lives. A child that could’ve been orphaned, is not. A child that could have grown up without connection to their biological families, does not. A family that could have been separated permanently, remains together. While this does not minimize the pain we might experience in saying goodbye, it counts it absolutely worth it to love a child for a season while their family works toward health and healing. We celebrate that a reunified family echoes the beauty of the ultimate restoration God will bring one day, to all kids, families, and people.