Who You Say I Am

Today at church my boys sang these words: “I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.”

And I’m already crying.

We have many discussions about God at our house. Not just the super great family devotion times (eye roll), but the “I hate God because He let all this happen to me” talks. It’s hard to hear. It’s hard to respond. It’s hard to direct their thoughts. It is a topic that we definitely converse with our kids about, but also keep our distance. I am a strong believer that their doubts have merit. Who am I to tell them that they shouldn’t blame God for their past? Who am I to feed them my own opinions about faith? I understand the argument that I am their parent so it is my job to make sure they know the Truth. But I do that, and it doesn’t happen by refuting their difficult questions and doubts about God’s goodness or existence. The spiritual doubt and fears in adoption is not a popular topic. I mean, it’s pretty paralyzing to think that the view that my adopted kids (present and future) have of God as a parental, unconditional love lands on my shoulders because the first set of parents screwed it up. God as their Father? That’s a tough concept.

So, we talk about their specific struggles and thoughts whenever they want to bring it up, and we do all of our “normal” religious rituals of prayer, church, Bible reading/memorizing, family devotions, etc. Jonathon and I are simply listening ears to the ramblings of “God doesn’t exist”, “I hate God”, “He doesn’t even love me or I would be with my real parents”. We share why we believe that God is alive and why He is still good and how much He does love them. But stating facts is all that we can do for them. God must answer their questions and doubts in His own, real way. Some days I think that I need to get involved, but most days I trust fully that the exposure to Him is all we need to do. I can choose to be worried about their 100% belief in the God I know to be real or I can allow them to witness what my relationship with God looks like. I choose the latter.

But deep in my heart, I want them to see just how great and wise and truly good My King is. I know that is the only way that my 2 precious boys will heal. And oh I want them to be healed from all the awful hurts they have. So today when we were singing these words I brought them close and reminded them just what it meant what they were saying.

“I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.”

Those words ring true in my own heart as someone who has been redeemed by the Savior. But those words. THOSE WORDS. coming from the mouths of my wounded, broken, chaotic, once fatherless, burdened children. That is redemption. That is God’s goodness. That is healing.


Writing a Story

It is very evident to Jonathon and I that we are not in charge of our boys’ journeys. That is mostly because we have not had the privilege of watching them grow from infancy to the young men they are today. I have written numerous times about the fact that we got our boys in the middle of their childhood, but there is still a piece of me that still wants to think that we can control their life story from here on out. And that’s a lie.

I recently went to a conference for adoptive/foster moms, and it was there that God stuck one phrase in my head that has not left: I don’t write my kids’ stories.

In so many ways I am constantly reminded of that fact since I did not birth my children. But in numerous others, it’s hard not to think that Jonathon and I write the stories of our boys. It was us who found them. It was us who ‘saved’ them. It is us who correct their behaviors and help them move forward. It is us who pay for their education. It is us who feed, clothe, and direct them. We know their waking and sleeping. We create their habits with our home life. We give them information through our own filter.

So then we have this random 2 weeks of behaviors I can only refer to as “hell week”. And I panic.

God, I did not write these behaviors into my boys’ lives. I didn’t plan for them to struggle with this. I don’t have a way out of that habit. We are doing everything we can for them. Why aren’t they moving in the direction Jonathon and I have projected for them? We know what You want for them. We’re their parents now. I have a better life for them than this. 

It makes me chuckle to reread that desperate prayer. What am I thinking?! These aren’t my kids! God gave them to us. God saves them. God found them. God has and always will protect them.


As I have been thinking through this, it came to mind that this is not just an adoptive parent concept. This is ALL parents. No matter how your children have come to you, you don’t write their story. While my personal story makes it just a tiny bit easier to see that God has orchestrated our family, I still fall prey to the lie that I am in charge of my kids’ lives. It does make me panic a bit to think that I’m not in control, but it also lets me off the hook too! While I can’t be the one to brag about their accomplishments, I don’t have to fault myself for their struggles. I’m only here to encourage, prod, and guide on the path God has set before them.

Obviously, there is an element of control I have over what and where my kids are. Jonathon and I are definitely apart of their story. But that is it. We are apart of it. We do not author their journey. God does.

God has given me a song to cling to in times when my precious, victimized children are caught deep in the waves of their past. I have been crying and singing it ever since I first heard it.

“Write me with Your Glory, Jesus, every line Your story, Jesus, Author of my faith.”

MY story. Not my kids’, but my own. Just as Jesus is writing my personal story, He is writing my children’s as well. He knows the ending of their story. What a relief that is! (when I choose to remember it) I get so wrapped up in how much I cannot help my kids  that I forget that the Creator of the Universe is writing not just mine, but their stories as well.

The chorus of that song goes like this:

“I close my eyes ’cause faith is seeing for me. I’m out of breath, but You are breathing for me. . .my fight is gone, but You are fighting for me. The battle won, I’m standing in Your victory . . .To Jesus be the Glory.”

Even just in typing these words I am weeping. Our boys are treading in some very deep, dark issues right now. It doesn’t only seem like there’s not a way out, it feels like we have worked and prayed in vain for them. I know in every fiber of my being that God desires good for them, that He saw them in the middle of their abuse and neglect. But why is my mighty-to-save, only-wise King not saving them from the consequences of choices made by uncaring adults?

I’m not the Author. I can’t see. I can’t breathe. I can’t fight.

Faith is seeing for me. God is breathing and fighting for me, and He alone is writing my story. I have prayed many times for God to use me for His glory. So all there is left to do is to lift my hands and continue proclaiming “To Jesus be the Glory.”



The Aftermath

Tonight we encountered our first true ‘aftermath’ experience of adoption. It was one long, yet short week ago that we pledged under oath to permanently and unconditionally care for Devin and Trevor. Jonathon and I felt the relief that came with such permanency, but we anticipated that to be short-lived. And I so hated that we were right.

Tonight, our boys asked questions we have not discussed in many months. We had conversations and heard thoughts that they have not voiced since we lived at Thornwell. And we witnessed so much regression.

“Why did our parents hate us?” “Why did you take us away from our real family?” “Why did we even have to come here?” “Why did you let this happen?” “When will we ever see our real mom and dad again?”

It depresses me to say, but the ‘after’ picture of adoption looks eerily similar to the ‘before’. The difference is that now when our kids yell at us “You are NOT my mom and dad”, we can yell back that we are. That makes no difference to them. It hurts my soul to see their lack of understanding. It’s not a lack of understanding out of hate or of a difficulty comprehending, but actually the opposite. My boys know exactly what has happened. They know exactly what was wrong, and they love their birth parents anyway. They forget the facts because they are wounded deep into their core. They feel the pain of that rejection with every breath. So then follows the hate and the anger and the desperation to push everyone away and cause others to feel just a small fraction of their pain.

I was listening to a podcast about raising foster and adoptive kids, and the speaker said that someone who has been abused is being told over and over again that they aren’t worth anything. So, it is essential in their healing process to recognize that they do, in fact, have worth. It is different all the more with the trauma of neglect. Neglect, at first, was thought to not be trauma at all. “A child who has been neglected? They don’t have nearly the problems that an abused child has.” WRONG. That is a big, fat wrong. What I learned through that teaching is that a child who has been neglected, they have been told over and over, every time that they’re ignored, that they do not exist. THEY DON’T EXIST. The reason my kids have trouble functioning in their life is because they do not think that they have or deserve existence. (I’m not crying, you are.)

That clears up a lot of things for me. I don’t need to question my boys’ behavior. They act the way they do, they react the way they do, and they ask the things they do because they have never had a trusted adult show them that they are living, breathing, valuable people. Above all the other thoughts they have about adoption, there is one question that stands out, that defines for me just how they feel about themselves. “Do you think my first mom and dad would remember me? If we saw them out in a store, they probably wouldn’t know who we were, right?” That. That tells me they don’t think they’ve existed in their first family’s eyes. (No, for real, stop crying)

Putting all those things together, some (most) days I don’t know where to start. What could even begin to help? How do we make the aftermath of adoption look different than our life before?

We start with acknowledging their existence. We let them sit in on a courtroom hearing where we state the names by which they will be called from this day forward. We recognize their good and bad behaviors. We take 90% of our day to explain just one more time that they cannot leave our family. We call all their new aunts, uncles, and grandparents to tell them every little thing that happened in their day.

I’m listing those things as if we have these super effective ideas, but the ideas I’ve stated, that’s all we’ve got! And I cannot guarantee that those even work. We know what the problems are, but most of the time the path the healing is as unique as the individual. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to figuring out how to help my kids.

I want to share this part of our journey not because we have the answers, but simply because we don’t. Jonathon and I did not follow this calling to foster/adopt because we have some divine knowledge and sudden wisdom. We don’t survive this calling by being super smart and always having a strong relationship and meeting our boys’ needs every day. Each day this Sampson clan lives out the definition of “Messy”. This means that our kids have tantrums in public that are fitting for a child well below their biological age; we have many marital arguments on how to handle behaviors; we are late to church because someone forgot to wear shoes; we have quadruple the amount of parent-teacher conferences as ‘normal’ parents; we eat popcorn and cereal for dinner. Isolating that list, it sounds like any other family, but for some reason on a daily basis all of that seems like the definition of a family that’s out of control. “When will we just get our life together?” I ask myself. I wanted that life to be the ‘before’ picture of adoption. But God didn’t call us to care for widows and orphans so we could see the ‘after’.

In Jesus’ name, we press on.




Foster Care Should Matter to You

Foster Care matters to me, and I think it should matter to you too.

I never wanted to be a foster parent. It’s not that I was against it, but it’s something I just never considered. My wife, before we were even married, shared her desire to help children and families through foster care and adoption. Again, I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t put much thought into it after that conversation. Fast-forward a few years, and my wife brought it up again. “What if we were houseparents?” She showed me a few places online, and I ended up being on board. We packed up all our stuff and our dog, and moved from Burtchville, Michigan to Clinton, South Carolina. Almost 3 years and 67 foster kids later, foster care is my life. We loved being houseparents and loved the privilege of caring for so many amazing kiddos.

That’s why it matters to me, but why should it matter to you?

As of September 30, 2015 there were 427,910 kids in foster care nationwide, a number which has been rising for the past few years (for more national statistics, go here). That’s about the same as the populations of Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, and Rock Hill combined. That’s a really big and scary number, but I’ll try to simplify it. As of last month, there were 4,227 kids in foster care in South Carolina. Overall, South Carolina needs about 1600 additional foster homes to meet the current need (to see county-by-county numbers, go here). Wherever you live, there is a need for foster parents. There are children in your community who need a safe, stable, loving home.

Children who age out of foster care without a forever family are much more likely to end up unemployed, in prison, or pregnant as a teenager. This should matter to you, because if someone can help these kids and change some of these statistics, our communities will be much better off. Less crime, less unemployment and homelessness, less unplanned pregnancies, and many other societal issues that can be improved by a strong foster care community. Being willing to help those in your own neighborhood who may be struggling can have so many benefits beyond just helping a child (which is totally worth it on it’s own). You’re helping a family heal, and a community come together.To put it dramatically: if you care about your community, you should care about foster care. When people come together to improve the lives of children and families, communities improve, families are healed, children have a chance at successful adulthood.

So how can you help? You can become a foster parent. Contact a local agency (I’m partial to Thornwell, since I work there and it’s awesome) and get more information about how you can begin the process. If you can’t become a foster parent, then support foster parents. Find out who in your church, school, or neighborhood are already fostering, and ask them how you can help. Ask your local foster care agency (like Thornwell) or foster parent association what needs they have, and do your best to meet those needs. There are dozens of ways that you can help foster parents around you. If you want more ideas, contact me and I’d love to help!

Long story short: Foster Care matters to me, and I think it should matter to you too.



Fruit of the Spirit in Foster Care

Once I started to become invested in foster care, I began to see everything through a new lens. I did the same thing when I was a paramedic. Everything I watched, read, or heard was related back to EMS. Becoming truly immersed in a topic causes you to see everything differently. As I’ve been thinking about how to share the message of foster care, I started to think about classic passages and stories from the bible. It’s pretty easy to see that many popular passages can be used to encourage people who are considering foster care, or are in the middle of it. The fruit of the spirit is a great example.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

Love: “That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” Bob Goff wrote that in his book aptly titled Love Does. It’s impossible to be passive in foster care. Love is an action, and foster care is a very active ministry.

Joy: Children have an inherent joy about how they live their lives. The same is true for kids in foster care. It’s incredible how much joy our kids still possess even after the trauma’s they have experienced. We can learn a lot from them. Rend Collective says “Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is”

Peace: Peace can feel like a distant memory when you welcome a new child into your home, especially a child who has experienced trauma. John 16:33 says I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. You will undoubtedly face trials in foster care, but with the love and support of a strong foster care community, like Thornwell, you can find peace in the midst of the chaos.

Longsuffering: Most translations say patience, but the NKJV uses the word longsuffering, which I think is much more fitting when it comes to foster care. If you have kids, you know the truth to the saying that ‘patience is a virtue’. It can feel a lot like longsuffering.  Kids in foster care need you to be patient with them. They come from some pretty hard places, and need time to adjust to their new normal.

Kindness: Being kind to someone who isn’t being kind to you is a challenge. The children who you welcome into your home won’t always be kind. Sorry if I ruined that for anybody. Many times children express their past hurts through harsh words, because they don’t know how to handle all of the new emotions they are experiencing. Understanding that those hurtful words are not a personal attack can help you respond with the kindness that those kids need.

Goodness: God is good. We know this, but when we hear about some of the injustices and horrors that kids in foster care have lived through, it’s important to be reminded of His goodness. His goodness is greater than any badness that our kids experience. One of the great things about having the Bible is that we know the end of the story. We know that good defeats evil. We know that love wins every time.

Faithfulness: Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 NLT) Whenever I’m talking to someone who is frustrated in the licensing process, I encourage them to keep fighting. Foster care truly is the good fight. Fighting for love, safety, and justice for children is always the right thing to do.

Gentleness: Kids in foster care are usually used to living in harsh environments. They’re used to harsh responses and harsh punishments. Providing calm and gentle responses can play a huge role in building trust and attachment with our foster kids. If you don’t believe me, it says so in the Bible: A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)

Self-Control:  In the Teaching Family Model, this is called quality components. The ability to maintain your composure and remain kind and gentle in the face of a tantrum or hateful words from a child who is hurting, when all you want to do is yell back at them. Like many things, it’s a tough but invaluable skill when working with kids from hard places.

It’s easy to say “master these things and you’ll be perfect foster parents.” It’s true, but unattainable. The best we can do is to strive to be better than we were yesterday. As long as you’re trying, you’re headed in the right direction.


Why Foster Care

As of last week, I am officially a foster care recruiter. I say officially because I feel like ever since we became Family Teachers 2 and a half years ago, we have been advocating for foster care and have shared the joys and hardships with anyone who will listen. We’ve been unofficially recruiting people for years, but now I have a business card that says it’s my job. This has forced me to think about and answer the question of why foster care is important. 3 years ago, my answer was “because my wife said so.” Since then it has taken over my life in the craziest and best way.

We were at a conference this weekend, and the opening speaker, Jason Johnson, spent Friday night talking about why we do foster care. It boiled down to this – Why foster care? Because Jesus.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God, but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantage of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – a crucifixion. (Philippians 2:5-8 MSG)

We can do hard things because Jesus did hard things. Foster care is hard, no doubt. But you can do it.

What if you don’t love Jesus? Why should you do foster care? I believe whole heartedly that everyone should know and love the Jesus that I know and love, but I’m also wise enough to know that not everybody thinks like me. There are plenty of reasons to do foster care that aren’t spiritual. Foster care is a chance to love someone who has never felt loved. It’s the opportunity to meet a need in your community and show love to neighbors and coworkers by caring for their kids when they’re struggling. Being a foster parent exposes your children to a life of service and teaches them to live for others, not just for themselves. Maybe your childhood wasn’t great, you can use that experience to help a child who has gone through some of the same things, and to provide a positive, loving, home environment that you may have never had.

It’s said that if you can help a child, you don’t have to spend years repairing an adult. Regardless of your motivation, whether it’s spiritual or not, you have the chance to make the world a better place. Helping kids now will reduce the likelihood of serious issues when they’re adults. Teen pregnancy, violence, homelessness, and many other societal problems can be reduced or avoided if we can give kids the best start we can. If they experience appropriate love and acceptance from birth, they will have better views of themselves and others, which will make the world a better place.

Long story short – You should be involved in foster care. As me how.


Love Wins

Yesterday was Stand Sunday, an extension of Orphan Care Sunday that is organized by the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Orphan Sunday shines a spotlight on the global orphan crisis. Stand Sunday puts the focus on foster care in the United States. In case you weren’t aware, we care a lot about foster care. It’s impossible to be involved in foster care and not be forever impacted by it. Find out more about Stand Sunday here.

Many people this past week have expressed feelings of disappointment, fear, and uncertainty. While those feelings are justified given current events, those are the same feelings that hundreds of thousands of foster kids feel every day. I’m not knowledgeable or experienced enough to comment on anything political, but I know foster care. If you want to talk about a population that has been stereotyped, marginalized, ignored, and traumatized by a damaged system, lets talk about foster care.

400,000(ish) kids that have been abused, neglected, experienced the death of a parent, or something equally horrible. Kids in foster care live every day with uncertainty and fear about their future. They are distrustful and angry at the system that is supposed to be helping them. They have to handle daily disappointments, like parents not showing up for a visit or being away from their family for a holiday. Foster care is a broken system. There are many people working really hard to make it better, but like most things, only the negatives get publicized.

So what can we do? The answer is equally simple and challenging. Love others like Jesus loves them. 1 John 4 is my favorite passage on love. Verse 11 says Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Verse 18 says There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Kids often live in fear prior to entering foster care. Being taken from their families is a very scary experience. They’re scared of the uncertainty of where they’re going to live or if they will ever see their families again. They need to be loved like Jesus loves them. Foster kids are scared. Many Americans are scared. We need to respond with love. We know that perfect love drives out fear.

1 Corinthians 13 says If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (v 1-3, NLT) 

I don’t know how to fix fear, but I know how to love people. I know how to be patient and kind. I try not to envy or boast. I don’t think I’m self seeking. I try (unsuccessfully at times) to not be easily angered. I don’t keep a record of wrongs. I don’t delight in evil but I do delight in truth. I do my best to always protect, trust, hope, and persevere. I’m pretty far from perfect, but love never fails. Love wins.


Foster Care is Brave

Want to know the truth about bravery?

When we think about bravery and courage, we often imagine those moments from movies.

A hero is up against impossible odds. It’s difficult but he leans into the challenge and survives! His girl, who is probably the brunette tomboy he ignored for the hot blonde all too long, will kiss him as the credits play.

Yay, bravery!

Bravery is grimaces and grinding it out and wiping sweat off your brow as you save the day!

Here’s the truth about bravery:

Bravery makes you want to throw up.

Bravery makes you cry. A lot.

Bravery makes you lose sleep.

Bravery makes you lose weight or gain lots of stress pounds.

Bravery is ugly and messy and not at all heroic looking when it’s really happening.

It’s hard.

Next time you feel like a coward because you’re about to make a difficult decision and you feel like throwing up, don’t beat yourself up. Next time you feel afraid and don’t want to keep going, don’t give up.

Bravery is a choice, not a feeling.

Choose it.


Jon Acuff posted this on his Facebook page yesterday. Reading this, all I could think of is foster care. Everything he says about bravery is also true about foster care. It’s true about the kids in foster care. They are the bravest, most courageous, amazing examples of God’s love. The joy that they live with after the traumas they’ve endured is unbelievable. To just meet these kids, you may never be able to tell that they have experienced abuse or neglect. You’d never know all they’ve been through. But we do. Foster parents experience the sleepless nights, the tears, the doubts and the fears that our children suffer through on their path to bravery.

Foster parents are brave people. I’ve written a lot about different things foster care is, but this sums it up well. We cry. It’s sickening to hear kids recount the horrible things they’ve seen. We’re exhausted. I’ve gained stress pounds. Foster care is an ugly, messy, nasty thing. It feels anything but heroic, but it is. Becoming a foster parent is a brave, courageous, and heroic choice. Foster parents are heroes to the boys and girls that they welcome into their home. Lots of people say that they could never do what we do, and honestly, we can’t do what we do either, but God can.

All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG) 

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been  pushed past your limit. It’s easy to feel like God is giving you more than you can handle. God will always be there to help you come through it. He will never let you down.



Coping Skills

We see it every day. Children who are sad, scared, and anxious act angry and destructive because they simply don’t know what else to do. They are experiencing a lot of intense emotions, and they aren’t quite sure how to handle them. They want to be helped, but they have never learned the right way to ask. All they know is that they’re scared. Kids who have born into traumatic situations don’t always have the emotional regulation and coping skills needed to make healthy choices in stressful and uncertain times. They are attempting to process adult sized issues with child sized brains. It’s really not a fair fight.

Infants in healthy environments quickly learn that crying is an effective way to get their needs met. When they are in an unhealthy environment, they learn that crying does not get their needs met, and could actually be harmful, so they stop crying. Once they are in a healthy environment, they relearn the effectiveness of crying. Sometimes, their needs are never fully met until they are toddlers or even school age children. This process often begins in foster homes after they are removed from their unfulfilling home. Once that begins to happen, they often revert to where their development was initially stunted. That means crying, or somehow being disruptive, when they have unmet needs. Over time kids (hopefully) learn better communication skills and ways to more effectively get what they need.

That’s why family teachers, foster parents, and parents in general have such an important job. Teaching social skills and coping mechanisms to kids doesn’t just help them to be successful at home and school. It gives them tools to use when they grow up and go out into a stressful world. Proverbs 22:6 says Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.  I just had a conversation with one of our boys about how sometimes we turn little issues into big issues because we’re trying to teach lessons about life that will help them when they grow up. Lessons that they probably should have learned already, but haven’t.

An incredibly effective way to teach these things to kids is through modeling. Kids are so often a mirror of what’s going on around them. If there’s arguing and yelling in their house, they are much more likely to argue and yell. If they’ve experienced sexual abuse, it’s much more likely that they will mirror that behavior with their peers. This is all they know, so they think it’s normal. They assume that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s why the cycle of poverty and abuse is so strong. They don’t know any different. We get the chance to show our kids, maybe for the first time, how to interact respectfully with others and take care of themselves. As foster parents and family teachers our job isn’t just providing a home for children who need a safe place, it’s working to break the cycle of generational poverty and trauma that often leads to a child needing foster care.

Since I’m a non-confrontational person, I try to stay away from current event and political debates, but I have a hypothesis. What if rioting and unrest is the go-to for some people because as a child they were never taught coping skills to positively deal with negative emotions? Just like we see so often with our kids, these people are angry, anxious, fearful, and sad. Often rightly so. They want help and comfort, but they were never taught how to ask for help. So they act out. They respond with destructive behaviors, because they don’t know what else to do. They feel unheard and lost, so they make sure their voices can’t be ignored. I don’t have an answer for what’s happening now, but I believe that teaching social skills and coping mechanisms to kids can help future generations of adults better handle the inevitable hardships and negativity they will face.


Foster Care is important

I know we finished the ‘foster care is’ series, but I can’t stop thinking about a picture and I think this title is fitting. If you haven’t seen the picture, it was posted on Facebook by the East Liverpool, OH police department. (I’m not going to post the picture, because even though it’s shockingly real and helps to shed light on a huge nationwide problem, it’s not really fair to the individuals in the picture. The problem needs to be seen and addressed, but public shaming isn’t the best way to do it. If you still really want to see it, it’s here.)  It shows two adults who appear to be unconscious in the front of the car, and a 4 year old boy in the back seat. According to the police report, the vehicle was pulled over due to erratic driving and the officer found the female unconscious and the male severely altered, saying that he was attempting to drive the female to hospital. Both adults were given Narcan (a medication that reverses opiate overdoses) and were successfully revived and arrested on a variety of charges.

It’s a really hard picture to look at, but, as the police department said in their Facebook post:

We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.

As a paramedic, I was able to see the struggles of heroin addiction first hand. I’ve given Narcan to bring someone back from the brink of death and listened to them cry about how addiction has ruined their lives. This isn’t a post about the adults or the illness that they are victims of though. This is about the 4 year old in the back seat wearing the dinosaur pajamas. It’s about the system that he is now a part of, and will forever be connected to. It’s about, as the police department said, being a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess.

Foster care is important. It’s important because that 4 year old, like hundreds of thousands of other kids, didn’t do anything wrong. He was placed in a very unfortunate situation and needs someone to speak up for him and protect him from the brokenness that he’s known his whole life. Foster care is important because we have a chance to be that voice. We can protect that child and others like him from the evils that their caregivers can’t escape.

That picture is really hard to look at. The picture of the little Syrian boy in the back of the ambulance is absolutely heartbreaking. As horrible as those are, they are real, and they highlight a need. Orphan care is important because those kids need our help. They need our voice. Obviously I am passionate about foster care, but you can ‘find your something’, as Jason Johnson says. Find what you can do to help children here or abroad and do it. Foster care, orphan care, and adoption are amazing opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The first part of Deuteronomy 10:18 says that  He [God] ensures that orphans and widows receive justice.  He ensures that through people like you and I. We need to love these children like Christ loves his children. Meeting them in the midst of their brokenness and being a consistent and loving force for good in their lives. Love God. Love People.