What were your biggest concerns as you considered saying yes to foster care?
Dave: My biggest concerns of fostering all revolved around fear. Would I know enough to care for the needs of the children? It was prideful, but I remember thinking how embarrassing it would be to fail. And how would I possibly handle getting close to a child and then have to say goodbye when they returned home? These are normal fears for most of us who foster, but I also feared that I’d lose my freedom to do what I wanted. I know it’s selfish, but it crossed my mind a lot. My wife, Jennifer, and I had been married for 8 years and we didn’t have any children. We both worked full-time and had become comfortable with the rhythms of our lives. I wasn’t sure how much of an adjustment we’d have to make, but I knew it was going to be a big one.
Why did you ultimately say yes?
Dave: When I tell our story of fostering, I always tell people that it started with my wife, Jennifer. She had been thinking about it for years and was the first one to bring it up. After a lot of prayer and many conversations, it became increasingly clear that it was God’s call for both of us to open our hearts and our home to care for the children He cared about. I always knew God was for vulnerable children, it just took a while for my heart to reflect his heart.
How has God worked in your life during your foster care journey?
Dave: At the beginning, I really thought I was the one doing the rescuing. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I like things to be organized and in their place. I like to be in control and don’t like surprises. I find great peace working lists and having my days planned in advance. I like to be productive. I know what you’re thinking. Kids aren’t going to fit well into this picture. You’re right. The good news is that God rearranged my priorities. Our journey through foster care and adoption opened my eyes to see God’s image in people and I’ve learned to slow down, release control, and enjoy this journey we’re on. I’ve been reminded over and over again that it’s much easier to talk about surrender than it is to live it out. Every day I’m thankful for the changes God has brought to my life and our family through foster care and our amazing kids.
What would you say to other men who God may be calling to foster?
Dave: If you’re a man considering foster care, I’m guessing that you’ve got some of the same concerns I had. It’s really ok. I had tons of questions.
What if I’m a terrible foster dad?
What if I really don’t like the kids?
What if this child hurts someone in my family?
What if the child returns home?
What if we don’t have enough money?
What if I never have time to do what I want to do?
I know I’m not the first to ask these questions. They come up often in my conversations with men considering foster care. Keep asking questions and God will meet you where you are. He kept working on my heart. He still is. Instead of focusing on myself and so many things I couldn’t control, he has helped me focus on Him and what he is powerful to do.
I still remember him putting this thought in my mind as I was wrestling with whether or not to foster. He reminded me that I could use my life to do many good things, but few would have the eternal impact or capture His heart like caring for foster children. And when all I had left were my own selfish desires, I finally laid them down and we said yes. Fostering is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Some days it will crush your heart and you’ll wonder how you’re going to make it through. But most days I have discovered great joy as we’ve experienced more of God’s heart for his children.
One last thought. Don’t walk the journey of foster care alone. If you’re married, don’t shut down. Always talk openly and honestly with your wife. You’re in this together. I’d also encourage you to find another man, or even a group of men, who share a similar journey through foster care. In the ups and downs of fostering, you’ll find it helpful to have a band of brothers who relate to your frustrations and fears, but also know how to celebrate all that God is doing in your life and in the lives of those you have chosen to love.