If I ask my friends the question, “Who do you say I am?” They will list my positive attributes. If I ask my close friends the same question, they will use kindhearted comments to soften the edges of my shortcomings.
In a culture that tells us not to care about what others think, I also must acknowledge that Jesus asks in Mark 8:27, “Who do people say I am?
These are the questions you ask a foster family agency when you apply to be a foster parent.
The organization where I work is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. I have worked at Olive Crest in our foster and adoption programs for over half that time. In all my roles, I have reviewed over 1000 foster parent applications.
Consequently, celebrating 50 years has allowed me to reminisce about the hundreds of families I have met along the way. The applicants we approve to be foster parents place themselves on the altar. They sacrifice their lives for the chance to love children who are strangers to them. Specifically, they live out Hebrews 13:2.
In my experiences, I have fingerprinted a family while they were making Christmas tamales and fingerprinted other families at baseball games. Additionally, I was offered a live turkey from a family’s farm one Thanksgiving. I have had the privilege to sit with amazing people in their family rooms, kitchens and living rooms, balconies, patios and porches, churches, coffee shops and restaurants.
Shaylee, one of our California foster family experts, puts it well, “Fostering is a life laid down. It requires complete surrender. Complete abandonment of your life to provide a life full of hope and healing to a precious child in the foster care system.”
Early in my foster family recruitment career, applicants shared a similar experience about why they submitted a foster parent application. They explained how they felt a “nudge” they could not ignore.
This remains constant: families with a “call” want to honor the Lord’s extravagant favor because of their own spiritual adoption. They present their thresholds as an offering to the King of Kings. They feel compelled to share their home; anything less feels like theft.
Our Lord responds by turning their home into His Kingdom.
It’s Not What You Expect
Applying to be a foster parent is much more than filling out paperwork and attending interviews. The application process requires courage and confidence. The process may be very similar regardless of where you apply, but what the Lord does through the experience is intimate to each applicant.
“When [foster parents] are open-handed, we see God’s faithfulness and the beautiful story written for them,” Dani adds from our San Diego office. “It won’t be without trials, trauma and hardship, but it will be beautiful.”
If you believe, as I do, that the Lord will craft your home for His Kingdom, can you imagine what He will do in your heart? The Lord might surprise you with unexpected healing. He might break apart the waters to make way for the impossible. He might return to you what you feared was gone forever. I have seen it happen: birth families restored. New families weaved together. Old friends becoming relatives through the adoption of siblings.
Clinging to the Edge
In 2021, I relocated to another state and moved in with my parents. My mom is in her fourth year of dementia, and I was called to help her and my pop age-in-place. After 65 years of marriage, I prioritized keeping them together in their home.
Recently, I struggled with my life’s direction in my first year of being home. It had become smaller, even though I had moved to do a big thing. The “pool” I gladly dove into in 2021 had changed by 2022. I found myself constantly clinging to the edge. The once-clear water was murky, and I could not see the bottom. I was no longer swimming; I was treading water. And I was convinced I was trapped in the deep, deep end.
In one of my moments of sadness, the Lord showed me something new. In fact, I was not clinging to the edge of a pool at all; I was not in the deep end. The Lord showed me I was clinging to the side of a baptismal.
This revelation changed everything.
Applying to be a foster parent can feel like clinging to the edge of a pool. Once you are approved, you must let go. But if you practice, you will master letting go every day.
A Strong Applicant
Top Qualities in a Foster Parent Application
I have noticed some trends among strong foster parent applicants over the years. Without a doubt, an applicant thrives when they believe the Lord has a good purpose for every step of the process. Moreover, these are some of the top qualities of a strong applicant.
Questionable Qualities in a Foster Parent Application
In contrast, here are some reasons why an application may be questioned.
- Undisclosed traumatic events that are later discovered (including investigations, arrests and convictions)
- Little to no regular contact or activity with communities outside of the home
- Little to no support from family and friends
- A recent history of financial instability
- A previous “disruption” of a dependent child’s care
- Poor personal or professional references
- A home or property that will not pass a state licensing inspection
When an event prevents an application from being accepted, most agencies will offer various ways to serve if foster parenting is not the best fit.
Preparation for a Foster Parent Application
A strong applicant is typically ready to provide the following.
- Clear state, federal and local background checks
- Proof of income
- A good health report from a doctor
- Trustworthy, positive references
- Proof of reliable and insured transportation
- Open and honest answers to personal questions
Being a foster parent is waking up in His glory every morning. If you are thinking about applying to be a foster parent, start by committing to praying about it. Share your excitement with the Lord! Tell Him your fears. Ask Him your questions.
One thing everyone should know before fostering is that it is harder than they can ever imagine, but the rewards are greater than they’ve ever hoped.Angela, Olive Crest Program Director
Is the Lord calling you to be a foster parent?
Are you wondering where to start?
It is simple.
You start by saying, “Yes.”
© 2023 Vanessa Vasquez. All rights reserved. Used with permission.