"It takes a village to raise a child."
This statement is an old African proverb thats relevancy rings even more true today. In a world where marriages are broken, families are ravished by poverty and addiction, and the lives of children are not cherished; it truly takes a village.
With the recent uproar over the war on abortion, I find my heart broken. Broken for the babies who will never take a breath, broken for the young mothers contemplating abortion.
As these thoughts swirl through my mind, I can't help but wonder how some of these young moms must feel...scared, embarrassed, unfit, unqualified, inexperienced, ill-equipped, lonely, unprepared, uneducated...the list goes on. To those mothers--where is your village? Do you even have one? You most certainly need one to take on the responsibility of raising a child today. I ran across a quote that perfectly expressed my heart on this matter, beautifully portraying how we, The Church, are called to be the village.
"As the church, we cannot say of abortion, "This is murder", without saying to the pregnant woman, "We will serve you." If we are doing the former without the latter, we aren't truly understanding the Gospel. We must listen, love, foster, adopt, give money, babysit, donate supplies, mentor young women, and support in whatever ways God has equipped us."
It seems so simple, yet why aren't we doing it? Why isn't The Church being the village? There are so many other practical ways to step in and be a champion for the cause, rather than participating in a march or holding up a sign.
"We must listen, love, foster, adopt, give money, babysit, donate supplies, mentor young women, and support in whatever ways God has equipped us."
I say, if we can't take care of the orphans that are living on this earth now, what shall we do? When there are over 30,000 abortions taking place in Georgia each year, what shall we do? If we can't find foster homes to house the children who are a result of addiction and abuse, what shall we do? Why are there over 170 children in foster care and only 10 foster families in my region? Why do Christians outnumber orphans 15 to 1?
These are the honest and convicting thoughts I struggle with as I contemplate our purpose as a family, and as The Church.
Phillip and I have officially been foster parents for three months now. As I type these words, tears fall from my eyes. No amount of preparation, training, volunteering, or even praying, opened my eyes to the reality of raising a child that is not your own. Responsibility, consistency, patience, kindness, understanding, strength, faith, selflessness, devotion...these are all words describing what must pour out of us daily. We knew it would be challenging, and it is. But we also never could have imagined the joy a child brings when they simply bring themselves.
During this season, we have had friends offer to bring us dinner on multiple occasions. Our church family has made us feel more welcome than ever, supporting us in so many seen, and unseen ways. My work family has rallied together to help us in any way they can--welcoming after school visits and making this child feel like she belongs. Our own families have treated her as their own blood, including her in family plans and spending one on one time with her. Sweet, dear friends, have gone above and beyond to help after school or when school is out so that we can maintain as normal of a work schedule as possible. College friends have taken the time to talk through issues over the phone--listening and giving advice. New friends have stayed up with us, hours into the night, encouraging and praying for us when times have been tough. And not to mention the sweet friends who have called, texted, visited, and prayed for us during this journey.
These children come from a broken past, often times with no family to care for them and no community to support them. But, when we welcome them into our home, they instantly have a village. A village of friends who care about them, a village that prays for them daily, a village that genuinely wants to spend time with them, a village that makes them feel like family.
Sometimes I wonder if this village is for them, or for me? I realize, now, that it is for all of us. It is for when I need a little encouragement on the hard days, it is for when Phillip needs an afternoon to himself, it is for when she needs a little girl time with someone who isn't acting as her "mom". When this village of family and friends come along side us in this broken journey--we find the light. We find a glimpse into what God created families and The Church to be. We find the strength to make it through another day. We find that extra little bit of love we need, just to pour it right back out again.
We are the village. YOU are the village. The part you play in this village may look a little differently than your neighbors, but I would encourage you to seek out the ways in which God has equipped you.
We have had people ask us on multiple occasions why we foster, do we not want children of our own? If it were only that simple. We foster because we don't want any child to feel unloved or go uncared for, we don't want any family to be broken. We foster because it isn't about what we want.
Now, three months in, we find ourselves expecting a baby girl of our own in just three more short months.
Though this was somewhat of a surprise, we are anxiously awaiting her arrival. What we wish for her is what we wish for every child that enters our home; that they will choose to work hard for what they want, love people whole-heartedly, live selflessly, stand up for what they believe in, and be brave. We have been blessed with what I believe to be the best village around--and I am overjoyed that we get to raise this child surrounded by such wonderful people.
So, thank you to my village. You'll never know how much it means to us to know how much you care. We couldn't do it without you!
If you find yourself looking for ways to serve, reach out to us! We have been blessed to be involved with a wonderful organization in South Georgia that supports foster families and birth families alike. We'd love to talk with you, and provide you with information and opportunities to serve.
Updates: Since originally writing this blog in 2018, we had the opportunity to experience the love of a second foster child in our home. She was also graciously welcomed by our village, and we could never convey how much it meant to us to have their support. We have also welcomed our second biological child, and we have never been more grateful for our friends and family who have joined us on this journey!