Epworth Children’s Home started a Foster Care Program in 2017, in recognition that there are over 4,000 children in need of foster homes in our state. Currently, the number of licensed homes equipped to care for these children make up only a fraction of that number. Epworth’s Foster Care Program provides qualified foster parents with the training, tools, and support they need to make a difference in the lives of children.
Recently, our program received the following first-hand account from a Foster Parent; a Father who had a foster child placed in his home in 2017. We were so moved by his words that we wanted to share them with you! We hope that this Father’s journey inspires and touches all of you, the way it did for us.
“Our family has been fostering a boy since October 2017. Yesterday our foster child had a court hearing to determine what step to take as far as his custody goes. I will get to the result of that case in just a moment, but I wanted to share my experience first.
“I haven’t shared a lot about the whole foster experience because I have been afraid, to be completely honest. Afraid because fostering has been a lot harder for me than I thought it would be. Not because the child is difficult – it has been hard because of my heart. Ever since he came into our home, I have been terrified of becoming too attached and having my heart broken when he would eventually leave our home. I have been terrified of giving him all of my love, my energy, my grace and my compassion. If you saw our relationship from the outside, you would not notice. But I knew it. That being said, he knows that I love him and he calls me Daddy. I didn’t realize how much I was guarding my heart until the court case yesterday.
“I was sitting in the courtroom listening to the different parties discussing and debating the best course of action for the child’s future, when I started shaking. I began to realize this is the moment! The moment I decide to completely expose my heart to the potential of pain, or keep my walls up. It was absolutely terrifying! I started hearing a small voice inside that I could no longer ignore, and it was telling me to fight for this child. I realized I was willing to do anything for him.
“My walls started to crumble around me. Then I heard the judge call my name. He wanted to know if I wanted to adopt this child. I wanted to scream “Yes! He is my son!”, but I think I said something a little less dramatic like, “Yes sir, we are working on becoming licensed for adoption for this child.” I then heard the judge say that he is ordering termination of parental rights and opening this case for adoption.
“The weight of this decision is not lost on me, but it was one of the most powerful experiences that I have ever had.
“I will end with this. This is especially for you guys and Fathers. If you feel God tugging at your heart to become a foster parent, listen! There will always be a reason to not become a foster parent, but if your main reason is that you are scared your heart will be broken, then you especially need to do it. Foster children need someone who will be heartbroken over them. They need someone who is going to stick by them when things get hard. They haven’t experienced that. They need someone to love them and be gentle with them when they come over and hit you in the face with a maraca and break your glasses (not that I have ever had that happen, that is completely hypothetical, of course!). They need someone who is going to be faithful to them and strong for them in their weakest moments. I am by no means perfect in any of those, but I am strong in my faith, and it provides me the love, strength and grace that I need.
“Fostering has made me more dependent on God, in everything, and that is good. Ultimately, I am a foster child who was adopted into His family, and I am fully loved.”
For more information, please contact Erinne Rodgers at ERodgers@EpworthSC.org.