Why I foster: a challenge to the pro-life movement

First, let me say that I have been planning and contemplating this post for several months now. Its posting coincides with the uproar from the Women’s Marches. It is purely coincidence.

Let’s be very clear. I am not a “Marching” person. I prefer to make a difference in the lives immediately around me, rather than try to change the political agendas of people I have never met. This post is NOT a response of any kind to ANY march.

Ok, got that out of the way.

I’m pro-life. I’m a practical problem-solver. I’m a foster-mom. These three choices can cause some very tangled view points, and I’m writing to offer a challenge to my fellow pro-life supporters.

Foster-care is Plan B for all children. In an ideal world, men and women would love each other, promise to love each other’s children till death do them part, and children would grow in the loving, nurturing homes they were born into. But, that is not the case. My fellow foster-parents will describe situations completely opposite.

These two children were found tied to a post in a backyard, with no food or water or any adults around anywhere. They need a safe home. Will you take them?

This little boy has multiple siblings that we know of spread across the US, and probably many more that we don’t know of. Mom and Dad aren’t interested in caring for them. Will you take him?

This 2 month-old girl has just been released from the hospital. She was born addicted to multiple drugs. Mom and Dad haven’t visited once. Will you take her?

This little boy hasn’t had a stable home in 5 years, because mom keeps moving in with new boyfriends, many of whom have been abusive. Will you take him?

These twin girls were exposed to multiple drugs in utero, and this is the 7th pregnancy for mom. She doesn’t know the identity of the father. She has never tried to keep any of her children, because she can’t break her lifestyle habits. Will you take them?

Let me outline the philosophical struggle. As a pro-life woman, I believe that women should not have access to abortions, and specifically that abortions should not be paid for by the state. (I understand that some abortions are deemed medically necessary to save the life of the mother. I’m not going to discuss that argument here, because it does not apply to the case I’m trying to make. I am not trying to prove anything about whether abortion is a good or evil, but rather what steps are required of people who agree with my pro-life stance already.) I believe that these two statements are pretty common among the pro-life community, so I’m going to move on from it.

This means that the biological parents who choose drugs over their child, their abusive partner over their child, their Merry-Go-Round of a sex life over their child, should NOT have access to abortions.

As a foster-mom and a practical problem solver, it seems like contraception is the natural answer. Stop parents who can’t seem to care for their children after YEARS of opportunities so they are not be able to have children anymore. This sounds reasonable at first, especially when you describe various methods of contraception that can be removed after certain periods of time. Perhaps a law should be in place that allows the government to place long-term but temporary contraceptive measures in the bodies of women or men who cannot or will not work to keep their children until the parents can get their lives under control. Why should the parents be allowed to reproduce, forcing small children into horrible circumstances or Plan B’s?

But there are so many ways that solution could go wrong. What if the government decides to extend its rule of reproduction to more and more of the population? Will removing the consequence actually help the parents improve their actions and habits? What if the contraceptive measures don’t work and damage a child? What if this becomes yet another resource battle in an already exhausted branch?

And, there are theological issues as well. I won’t go into those as deeply, since I’m not a theologian myself. We can just accept that many branches of various theologies and many families believe that contraception as contraception is wrong.

So, where does that leave us? If irresponsible or irresponsive parents cannot have access to abortions, and we will not allow permanent contraceptive devices… what about the children?

If you are pro-life, this is my challenge for you.

What have you done, what are you doing, for those children?

Foster parents across the country have had the experience where another adult says, “Oh wow, you are so brave! I could never do that! I would be too afraid of having my heart broken when the children leave!”

I challenge you, my pro-life friend, to rethink your stance. To rethink your fear. Especially if you are a Christian.

This does not mean that every Christian or pro-life family is in a position to bring in children. I understand that. But I do ask you to carefully consider the reason WHY you cannot do so. Is it because your job requires countless hours? Is it because of major health problems in your family? Is it because your job requires you to move often? Is it because you are caring for the ailing health of another? Or, is it simply because you are afraid of the pain bringing in foster children might introduce to your life? I can’t decide for you, but I do ask that you think about it.

For those families who are already taking care of these little ones, thank you. For those families who are working towards that goal, thank you. For everyone who thinks about it, prays about it, talks about it, thank you.

For anyone who wants to know how they can help, here is a little list that might help you in your efforts to help these children.

  1. Become a foster-family.
  2. Become a respite-care family. Find a local foster-agency and go through the training, the screenings, the background checks. Then offer rest and respite for those families fighting a hard fight. Respite usually lasts anywhere from 2-14 days, but it varies by state. Foster families use it when the parents need to travel for a funeral, but the foster-kids can’t miss a visit in town, or when parents want to take a child to college, or when mom and dad just need a break. Respite care families don’t get placements, but you directly support those families who do.
  3. Become an emergency placement family. Child Protective Services are often in need of temporary homes for children until a permanent foster-family can be found, or until biological family can step up to caring for the child. Usually, temporary placement can last anywhere from a night to 14 days. Emergency Placement families are just a safe place to take an emergency landing while authorities figure out what is best for the child.
  4. Become a baby-sitting family for a foster family. Any baby-sitters must meet certain criteria according to the state and the agency. This means that finding baby-sitters can be very difficult for foster-families. Ask the foster-family for the paperwork, file it, and then help those foster-parents out. Our family has an incredible baby-sitter family that I rely on all too often, especially when I have doctor appointments, major school tasks to complete, or all day foster-trainings to attend. I can attest that this step alone has been a life-saver.
  5. Give to the foster-families you know. When they take in an infant, keep an eye out for clothes for that child on sale. Make meals for those families, not just when the child arrives, but often. When that family is exhausted, offer to come to their house to watch the littles while mom cleans that bathroom. Or, offer to clean the bathroom yourself while parents take a nap. Offer to meet the mom or dad at a local park, to be an extra pair of eyes.
  6. Pray for the foster-families you know. Ask specifically how you can lift them up to God. You might be surprised at the answers you receive. I find that I lack patience with two littles so close in age, but so developmentally different. I find that I lose sight of my marriage when my boys are extra demanding. I find that I am afraid to lose them. Ask how to pray, and then keep them in your prayers.
  7. Support local foster-businesses. Many cities have thrift stores attached to foster-care agencies, and the money earned goes to those children served in that agency. Many cities will have 5K’s, 10K’s, and mini marathons to support foster services. Take part and support these agencies that seek to serve children in need.

This is not meant to guilt anyone into any actions they are not able to complete. My goal was simply to challenge the pro-life movement to look to the lives of the children in their communities, the ones whose very lives are often threatened in utero. I am so thankful for the communities who have surrounded my family with so much love and support, and I pray that every foster-family has found what we have.

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