We've attended two 3 hour training sessions (out of required 12 sessions). I'm happy to say we have indeed been learning a lot. What has been really neat is that we are pretty much the only people attending the classes who haven't already started foster parenting, or any child raising for that matter. This allows for us to learn from other people's real life experiences. What have we learned so far?
We also had an interesting lecture about the history of foster care and children's rights. Did you know that the first prosecuted case for cruelty towards a child in the United States ended up being prosecuted based around laws against cruelty towards animals because there were no laws protecting children's rights?! We've come along way as a country since then. I realize all the more what radicals Jesus and His followers were centuries before even that first case of child abuse that was prosecuted in the United States.
- Every case is very different and basically we will have to get used to just being flexible and not knowing.
- The system gets pretty complicated and lots of people are involved in making decisions for the children. In addition all the people don't always agree (quite frequently actually). What surprised me though are cases where everyone agrees and is on the same page, yet a judge can still choose to make a completely opposite ruling.
- Behavior problems are guaranteed. Developmental delays are very likely. When you consider what most of the kids have been through, it isn't really surprising. That is probably a major reason we need to go through this training. We will be more empathetic and understanding of where problems are coming from and hopefully be better equipped to handle them with love and grace.
Jesus and some of his followers made the case for kids and their rights numerous times in the Bible in a time of history where others were not. They said things such as:
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."
Matthew 18:3-7,10 (NIV)
Scriptures like these play over and over in my mind lately. Reminding me why we are doing what we are doing. Children are precious and all too often ignored. David and I feel so privileged to be moving forward with this process where we will have a chance to be advocates and voices for them in addition to providing them with a safe place to call home for a time, or maybe forever. Which brings another verse to mind that has also been repeating in my brain quite frequently...
" Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice."
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)