We had an amazing Christmas. Surrounded by family, enjoying good company, good food and LOTS of gifts, we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, we sang carols at church, and we had a great time. I’m betting you had a pretty good time too.
I wonder what it’s like though, to not have a family to spend the holidays with. To not have someone to invite you to spend Christmas with them, exchange gifts and eat turkey with. What about for birthdays or other special days? What do you do when you have no family? No family to call or Skype with if you can’t actually be with them? Is it like those sitcoms where the character’s family is their friends, friends that change when their contract runs out or when the series is cancelled?
Sure, having a close family can have it’s issues, or for many people, having more than one family can make things dicey. But what if you have no one? Or what if, through no choice of your own, you spend most Christmases with a different family each year?
And what if you never know when you’re going to move? And since we’re speaking hypothetically, what if you were a kid in all of this, with no control over where you sleep, where you go to school, or who your family even is?
In Ontario in 2008, 9% of the children in foster care, that were available for adoption, were actually adopted. That leaves 91% of the kids still in foster care. That’s a crazy high number! And then how many kids were added to that in 2009, 2010 and 2011? And how many will be added in 2012? All across Canada, there’s something like 30,000 adoptable children in foster care. The foster families they’re with are, for the most part, loving families that care for each child in their care deeply — but they’re not permanent. Once each child hits 18, the foster family no longer has any obligation to them. We do know of foster families that have gone above and beyond, and who consider their foster kids “theirs”, even after they’ve left the nest. But for many kids that have passed their 18th birthday, they don’t have a family to spend Christmases with, to invite to their graduation, to their weddings, to the birth of their children.
As Christians, we say every life is important to God, we say kids shouldn’t be abused, abortion should be illegal, we say we should love like God loves. And we have huge houses with extra beds and two cars in the garage and a table big enough for 3 extra people. We have so much food we need to stop ourselves from eating it all, and we have so many clothes, we have to give them away when we’re tired of them. We give money to people on the other side of the world to feed and clothe them, and pat ourselves on the back for the good we’re doing in this world.
But what are we doing in Canada, in Ontario, in Angus (or Barrie, or Alliston, or wherever)?
It’s one thing to give $20 to the kid on the street corner holding up a sign. It’s a good thing, but it’s a non-committal kind of thing. What about the kids that have parents that can’t take care of them because of poverty, abuse or neglect? What about the ones that don’t have a functioning family to call their own?
As Christians, quite a few of us have healthy, well-functioning families, with room to spare. Sure, an extra kid costs money, and energy, and time. But what you’d be giving him or her, is priceless. And you may be providing that child with the only chance to experience the love of Christ that he or she will ever have. Yes, not everyone is called to adopt, but I’m thinking that a lot more Christians are called to adopt than actually do.
Foster care adoption is something that the Christian community needs to take and run with. What better way to demonstrate the relationship each of us has with our Heavenly Father? Romans 8:15b says “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” “ — we’ve been adopted by God into His family.
And did you know that foster care adoption is free? The training, homestudy and legal costs are absolutely free through the Children’s Aid Society.
Whether God calls us to add to our family through adoption, or simply by supporting those who do, this is one thing that all of us need to seriously consider.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27