The Church and Foster Care:

Adoption is a Process

By Sarah Earles, MS, LPC, NCC | February 05, 2023  

Foster care can be part of The Great Commission to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). It can share the love of Jesus with children whose biological parents either did not know Jesus or did not have the resources to parent as God would want. Adoption can also  reflect God and His adoption of believers (Eph 1:5). Foster care and adoption are processes, though, just as discipleship is a process. It will behoove the church to acknowledge this as they seek to care for children.

Becoming licensed to provide foster care is itself a lengthy process. A family needs to find an agency, attend orientation, attend training, have a home study, get matched to a child, and receive a placement, just to name a few things (Adopt US Kids, 2022). A child who comes into a foster home may not be eligible for adoption. The plan may be to reunify with his or her parents once the parents have the resources they need in order to properly raise a child. If a child is eligible for adoption, he or she may not want to be adopted, as this could mean losing his or her biological roots (Gobbel, 2020). Foster care is not a process with the certain ending of adoption. It is a process in which churches can show God’s love while trusting God with the outcome.

How can churches support the process of foster care? They can provide resources and contacts for families wanting to explore this ministry. For families engaged in foster care already, churches can offer prayer, support groups, meals, respite care, and resources to meet immediate needs (Foley Turner, 2022). Foster children, as well as their host families, have tangible, spiritual, educational, and relational needs (Johnson, n.d.). Many in the church have resources to offer in these areas, and they should. Churches and their congregants must give without expecting a certain result, and give holding an open hand on whether relationships with foster children will last, or even have the possibility of adoption.

Churches must be careful not to “put the cart before the horse” when it comes to adoption. Yes, provide foster care. Yes, foster relationships. Yes, love on children. Please do not celebrate adoption before it comes, though. This is premature, could violate the privacy of children, and may increase the dysregulation children feel about losing biological family and gaining non-biological family. Even if plans go to adoption, churches should be mindful that this may cause pain. Churches would do well to check in with parents and children to see if they want this event celebrated, or if they just need and want ongoing support. Foster care and adoption are unique to each family and child, and churches can honor the God-image in people by not using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Paul writes about the process of discipleship in 1 Corinthians. He says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (English Standard Version, 2016, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Foster care is a process by which God graciously allows the church to plant seeds that God can sovereignly choose to grow. In honoring foster care as a process, churches can honor God. While foster care may not lead to adoption within the church, it could lead to a child’s eventual adoption by God, and that brings God great glory.

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Foster care can be part of The Great Commission to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). It can share the love of Jesus with children whose biological parents either did not know Jesus or did not have the resources to parent as God would want. Adoption can also  reflect God and His adoption of believers (Eph 1:5). Foster care and adoption are processes, though, just as discipleship is a process. It will behoove the church to acknowledge this as they seek to care for children.

Becoming licensed to provide foster care is itself a lengthy process. A family needs to find an agency, attend orientation, attend training, have a home study, get matched to a child, and receive a placement, just to name a few things (Adopt US Kids, 2022). A child who comes into a foster home may not be eligible for adoption. The plan may be to reunify with his or her parents once the parents have the resources they need in order to properly raise a child. If a child is eligible for adoption, he or she may not want to be adopted, as this could mean losing his or her biological roots (Gobbel, 2020). Foster care is not a process with the certain ending of adoption. It is a process in which churches can show God’s love while trusting God with the outcome.

How can churches support the process of foster care? They can provide resources and contacts for families wanting to explore this ministry. For families engaged in foster care already, churches can offer prayer, support groups, meals, respite care, and resources to meet immediate needs (Foley Turner, 2022). Foster children, as well as their host families, have tangible, spiritual, educational, and relational needs (Johnson, n.d.). Many in the church have resources to offer in these areas, and they should. Churches and their congregants must give without expecting a certain result, and give holding an open hand on whether relationships with foster children will last, or even have the possibility of adoption.

Churches must be careful not to “put the cart before the horse” when it comes to adoption. Yes, provide foster care. Yes, foster relationships. Yes, love on children. Please do not celebrate adoption before it comes, though. This is premature, could violate the privacy of children, and may increase the dysregulation children feel about losing biological family and gaining non-biological family. Even if plans go to adoption, churches should be mindful that this may cause pain. Churches would do well to check in with parents and children to see if they want this event celebrated, or if they just need and want ongoing support. Foster care and adoption are unique to each family and child, and churches can honor the God-image in people by not using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Paul writes about the process of discipleship in 1 Corinthians. He says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (English Standard Version, 2016, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Foster care is a process by which God graciously allows the church to plant seeds that God can sovereignly choose to grow. In honoring foster care as a process, churches can honor God. While foster care may not lead to adoption within the church, it could lead to a child’s eventual adoption by God, and that brings God great glory.

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