Thank You from a Vintage Church Foster Parent

Dear Church,

Initially I was invited to contribute a parenting article from the perspective of a Foster Mom. The more I thought about what I wanted to share, the more I felt gratitude toward you, the body of Christ. So I would like to take a moment to thank you for all the ways you’ve made this journey possible.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.
— Psalm 21:1-3a
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Let’s talk about the hard stuff first. Fostering has been challenging; everything changes. You are expected to love, with your whole heart, a child whose first goal in care is to be reunified with his or her birth family. We are walking into this knowing and expecting to grieve. Children in foster care come from hard places; we get to know their stories, their secrets, and their challenges. As the healthy and safe caregivers, we are tasked with balancing connection and nurturing with teaching, structure, and discipline. All of this must be done without raising your voice and maintaining composure at all times, when sometimes you just want to lose your mind! There are also the other changes that most typical families experience: sleep interruptions, eating changes, explosion of toys in your previously tidy home. Having said that, I have to tell you that sitting in church every Sunday and being able to have a one-on-one with God through His collective worship service has been incredibly restorative and empowering.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . .
— Romans 12:4-6

So, church, I want you to know that you’re doing foster care too! If you are on the Connect Team, you have not just made coffee and opened the door. You have also high-fived our children into the building with cheer and given them a welcoming face. If you serve with vKids, you have given me a moment of respite where our little guy can hang out with you and learn about Jesus. Because of these teams, I get to sit with my husband, drink that cup of coffee, and worship without distraction or answering the thousandth “Why?” or “Can I have a snack?” question. I am also thankful for the pastoral leadership who checks in on us, prays for us, and encourages us by partnering with our family. If you are in our vGroup, you have prayed with us before our certification, during our first placement, and through the ups and downs since. If you’ve volunteered or even just attended church events like the Crawfish Boil, Wet & Wacky Water Wars, and vGroup Launch Party, I thank you all! These and the other many roles in the church has made fostering possible for us, mentally and physically. 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
— James 1:27

There are some people out there whom God has written this Scripture on their hearts and let me tell you . . . We are so grateful for you partnering with us.

“Hallelujah!” to our singles who love kids and have supernatural energy! We couldn’t do this without you! Also to other families with kids who have asked . . . Yes to those playdates! Yes to babysitting trades! Yes to that free kid friendly event you found! Yes to that resource recommendation! Yes, Yes, Yes! You are all loving on our little foster family and I have never felt alone during this journey.

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.
— Mark 9:37

All journeys start with one step. Our first step was simply attending an informational meeting with Crossroads NOLA, a faith based organization connecting children to families. Crossroads is also a church community of foster families and supports that make fostering possible through trainings, respite events, and resources. There are 400 foster children in care in New Orleans. Is there something stirring in your heart for one of these children? If so, I would encourage you to start with asking questions. A great place to start is by visiting Crossroads NOLA’s website: http://www.crossroadsnola.org. Also, I’d love to sit down with you and answer your questions. Regardless of where you start, if the Lord is stirring, take a first step!

Grace & peace,    

Erica Martinez