NORTH CAROLINA (Ashley McKinley/NC Forever Families Adoption/Foster Care Support Coordinator) - I love so many quotes from Jason Johnson’s blog and the beautiful way he articulates why foster care is a crisis that needs to be addressed by the faith community specifically. But, I believe he speaks to everyone when he says “Kids in foster care don’t want you to feel capable or qualified they just want you to be available and willing.“
We had the great privilege of listening to four of our teens share the same sense of urgency that Jason Johnson spoke of when we met with them this summer. Jason, Kassidy, Leanne and Caitlin attempted to rally families everywhere to step up and foster and adopt. As we filmed them we spent hours nearby a beautiful lake scenery as we listened to testimonies that painted an equally beautiful picture of redemption. The interviews were intended to be compiled in order to create a two minute promo video for a new adoption campaign that will launch in 2019. This hour long interview has been used for orphan care ministries, has been used to make the promo we originally intended it for and has now been picked up by our producer, who told us, their story needs to be shared beyond that. What a privilege to have these testimonies shared in so many various capacities. It was what these four teens intended all along, to share their stories with as many people as possible in hopes of creating increased awareness, with more families willing to foster and adopt in hopes of ultimately eliminating the list of children waiting for a family.
What we instead captured was almost an hour of footage of tears, laughter and insight about growing up in the foster care system. They now tell their stories from the other side of the trenches about the joy they have found in finding their forever family and how it changed the trajectory of their future. Their vulnerability shed light and their stories of hope will challenge you to consider fostering. Children enter the system through no fault of their own and when reunification is not possible can sometimes sit without a family at all who will claim them and give them a forever family.
The act of fostering requires a step of courage that is necessary to love and embrace these children despite the many logical reasons that we may have not to. There is no right time to foster, no perfect time to step out and take that leap of faith. But, there also is never a right time for children to enter the system, or be bounced in multiple placements ultimately to wait until 18 when they age out the system because there are not enough families willing to take them. The truth is that that people who foster are not special, they are not all qualified or capable. Foster parents are people who are willing to hear the cries of the children in the battlefield of trauma and heartache and say “that’s a crisis I can do something about.” My dear friend puts it best, “A foster parent is not a superhero, a foster parent is simply the one willing to go to the trenches and fight alongside these children in order to help them find hope and restoration.” Listen to these teens, here their challenge and ask yourself, are you available and willing?