To be Chosen. To be Loved. To Belong. These are all basic needs that were instilled in each of us when we were created. All needs that were meant to be fulfilled by God and by family. I attended the Women of Faith Conference last year and heard a wonderful testimony from Jen Hatmaker. Her testimony about the adoption of her children is a moving story about unconditional love. They had been foster children in various homes, and always had to worry that their foster parents would send them back because of something they had done. Every night she had to remind her children that she chose them! They were her children! This was their home. They were never going back to where they came from. These are exactly the same words that God speaks to our hearts, but most of us find them impossible to believe. As Jen told her story, tears rolled down my face. Once again, I heard God’s love for me, but also His desire to take care of these forgotten children who also need to experience His love and support through us. Ephesians 1:5 “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And He did this because he wanted to!”
First, it was always “When are you going to get married?” Then AT the wedding, “When are you going to start having kids?” Now, I could write an article describing the negative effects and social expectations that result from telling girls and women to get married and have kids right away. But I won’t. These questions used to bother me because I could never see myself as pregnant, giving birth, or taking care of an infant. Don’t get me wrong—babies are cute! I love my friends’ babies. I love photographing newborns. And I’m often complimented that I’m good with babies. But I’m not doing it 24/7. What I have envisioned is having a toddler or a young child. I’ve envisioned the baseball games and play dates. Teaching them and watching them develop. Sometime after college, I started to feel God’s push, little by little, to consider fostering or adopting children instead of having my own.
When Luke and I became serious enough to have the future family discussion, he knew he wanted a family, but had never seriously considered foster care or adoption. Over the past 5 years, he too has become open and excited about the thought of fostering and/or adopting a child when we are ready. However, neither of us knew much, and we (especially Luke) like to do a lot of research before any big decisions. So I found a few organizations to get involved with in order to start making a difference now, and maybe experience a little bit of the foster care world along the way.
This month we begin working with two non-profit organizations. OC United provides a wide range of outreach services from city-wide clean up initiatives, domestic abuse recovery, homeless initiatives, and their heart and soul, foster care. They provide after-school programs, housing for aged-out youth, and skills workshops. We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to dive in, get to know more and provide awesome media for more fundraising and outreach.
I’d also like to introduce you to Together We Rise. We will be partnering with them to provide 3 days of family mini sessions. Each mini session will donate a brand new duffel bag—a Sweet Case—to a child in foster care. Many foster children are moved from home to home, and only given a trash bag to transport their valuables. Being removed from your family is hard enough. Let’s not contribute to the feeling of rejection by forcing them to put the only belongings they have left in a trash bag. We all have an instinctual need to keep possessions of our own. It boosts our dignity and confidence. Joining with Together We Rise allows us boost the dignity and confidence of foster children by helping to provide Sweet Cases for them to stow their keepsakes. We hope we can be a small part of letting these children know how valued and loved they are.