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Stepping Forward in Wisdom

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Proverbs 1:5, NKJV

Choosing to step into foster parenting by adding a child to your family is a big decision. It’s an even bigger decision when that child has experienced trauma and loss through foster care. Have you prayed through and considered the cost? These are things that I wish someone had said to us as we started our journey into foster care. Or, maybe the real truth is that someone probably did say it—a case worker, a foster care trainer, a former foster family during our training—and I wish we hadn’t ignored it. Instead, I wish we had genuinely heard and reflected upon it. We have learned that it is important to step forward in wisdom when considering whether to become foster parents.

Our Story – Deciding to Become Foster Parents

For my husband, Steve, and me, the decision to step into the foster care world came in our mid-thirties. We were a family of three with an eleven-year-old daughter by birth. At the time, we felt strongly that this was the direction that God was leading us, but we didn’t stop to intentionally spend time in prayer and fully consider what the costs might be to our family.

Medically, I was unable to have more children, and we had always wanted to add to our family. Now that our daughter was eleven, we didn’t want to return to diapers and wipes—or have a huge age gap between siblings. Learning there were older children in foster care who needed families seemed like a perfect God-kiss for us to expand our family. We never had a particular feeling of urgency to foster or adopt or had a moment of calling during a sermon on caring for orphans. We simply wanted to add to our family and felt God had allowed for an open door. So we stepped forward. 

Rushing Forward into Foster Parenting

I don’t think stopping to fully consider the cost would have changed our minds. At least, I hope it wouldn’t have. We would have missed out on seven additional daughters who fill our lives with joy. What I wish is that we would have become more diligent in understanding how much of an impact our decision would have on our current family and, most importantly, on the child we were bringing into our home.

Maybe we would have been better equipped to be better parents to all of our daughters had we stepped forward with more wisdom and slowed down enough to “… hear and increase learning….and attain wise counsel.” Our desire to add to our family caused us to rush forward with semi-closed eyes and ears in order to hurry through the process and meet our new daughter. Nearly 16 years later, our family bears the scars of that decision—for both better and worse. 

Are You Considering Foster Parenting?

As you consider stepping forward into foster care, whether it’s to permanently add a child to your family or to become a temporary safe haven for a child whose parents are working through their own healing, it’s essential that you slow down enough to ask some hard questions and seek good counsel. Starting this journey in prayer is one of the wisest decisions you can make. I encourage you not to go through these prayers alone. Pray this through with your spouse. If you’re a single parent, find a trusted friend (or a few) who will commit to praying with you. 

Asking God for Wisdom

Ask God to give you wisdom. Wisdom to have a realistic picture of things that you need to change and adjust in order to parent well. (For us, this was pretty much everything.) Wisdom to understand how a child who has experienced trauma and loss might feel as they are coming into your family. Wisdom to have truthful and vulnerable conversations about your own fears, anxieties, expectations, and losses in life. And wisdom to listen deeply to children already in your home about their concerns and expectations. Each of these things will play a significant role in truly preparing you for the journey ahead as you follow the Lord’s lead to step into the story of a child who has experienced hard things in their life. 

When I look back at our beginning and consider in hindsight all our family has walked through since we decided to step forward, I know that asking some of these hard questions up front could have saved us from some pretty terrible parenting mistakes. I’m sure we would have still made our fair share, but I wish that we had prayed through our decision and asked God to reveal it to us more deeply before our first daughter from a hard place entered our home. I’m grateful that you are starting here—in prayer. 

Prayers For Wisdom

As you step forward today, consider this verse, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5 NKJV). Here are a few prayer starters to help you seek God in a deeper way:

  • Father, today I ask you to give me the wisdom to hear and increase my learning about children from hard places so that I can honor you in caring for them as a reflection of how you care for me. I ask for your guidance in this decision and humbly submit my path to you. I invite you to open my eyes and ears to resources and knowledge about caring for children who’ve experienced trauma. Your Word tells us that we can’t put new wine in old wineskins. Please help me lay everything I know about parenting down at your feet so that you can reveal new ways to parent in the midst of trauma. 
  • Father, I ask you today to shine the light of your wisdom on my own heart and help me see any anxiety, expectation, or fear that is there so that we can deal with it together. I also ask that you open my eyes to my past and reveal any hurt, trauma, or loss that I’ve experienced that might be triggered in this new journey. Please help me find personal healing so that I can be a vessel of your healing for a hurting child. 
  • Father, bring understanding to me about trauma and its impact on children so that I can be your hands and feet. And bring the wisdom of great counsel into my life—whether through personal friends or books, videos, and training resources that help me grow and fully consider this journey. 
  • Father, I submit this decision to parent a child through foster care to you. Lead, guide, and reveal to me your purpose and timing.

As you pray, ask the Father to help you step forward in wisdom as you decide whether to move forward on the foster care or adoption journey.

©2024 Pam Parish. Used with Permission.

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