There's an Orphan Crisis in Your Backyard

Lindsay and her husband never planned to become foster parents. It was through loss and the desire to help others that it all started and their story is an inspirational one!

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My name is Lindsay and I am a foster mom.

My husband and I’s journey to foster care was one born from brokenness. We had grand plans to move overseas for ministry after my husband finished his master's degree, however, eight months into our first year of marriage, my mother passed away unexpectedly. After her loss, our plans turned upside down and we began thinking of ways we could stay in the U.S. yet still pursue ways to live with a missional mindset. We began hearing more and more about the foster care system, and as we to read more about it, we felt as though we couldn't know what we knew without moving forward with becoming licensed to foster. Before we even received our paper license in the mail, we got a call to take an eight-week-old baby boy. The feelings that wash over us when we get calls from our agency are always conflicting and completely unique in nature: excited, surprised, grieved, reluctant, thankful, afraid, and overwhelmed among other things. This first call we received was for our sweet little boy who has a story that maybe he'll one day choose and be able to tell for himself, but he has since become our three-year-old adoptive son, Martell. When Martell was ten months old, we accepted the placement of a four-year-old girl who had a laundry list of abuse and severe trauma-related behavior. She remained in our home for ten months. We are currently hosting a darling little rambunctious and wild little two-year-old alongside our son Martell (three) and our biological daughter Esmae (one). Life is full and lively to say the least. 

If I'm honest, before witnessing a distant friend of mine begin taking in children through foster care, I really did not know a thing about it. As we began reading articles and books surrounding the issue, we became burdened for these children who are often unseen, in between, and vulnerable, and we felt as though we wanted our home and our arms to be a safe refuge for them. We definitely feared becoming attached to these kids only to have our hearts broken when we sent them home, but on the flip side, we also feared having children in our home that we would have no idea how to love. As "trained" as we were, we were pretty naive to what it

would actually be like and I think most foster parents are or will beuntil they're in the trenches. It's not glamorous work, loving hard in the hard, but it's good and necessary and refining and right.

We have learned so much through the process of parenting children who aren’t ours biologically. It has taught us that, while it's easier to live in our fenced in "palace of privilege,” it's always worth it to take down the proverbial fence and open our doors to children who need it. It shakes up our perspective and surfaces our weakness in a beautiful way. We can truly be the biggest fans of the struggling, sometimes single, parents; and see that their sin is no different from ours – it just comes in a different form. I have grown much in compassion and empathy and learned that judgment is only a barrier to love. Foster care is no walk in the park; it's not as though we get to use a few of our best parenting tactics and change a kid's life. It's messy and painful and sometimes overwhelming. The learning curve is steep and somehow these little kids have a way of turning our hearts inside out. But it's there, at the edges of ourselves that we need people and we need community and we need our neighbors. Needing one another is the bridge to authentic relationship – with friends, strangers, family, and Jesus. Foster care is a beautiful mess, a paradox of deep love and total discomfort. Foster care has been one of the most demanding and refining experiences of our lives… one we would never trade.

There is an orphan crisis right in your backyard and the time to step in and love some of the world’s most vulnerable is now. You may fear the pain that you will experience through parenting broken kids (and that fear is real and that pain is real), but you have the opportunity to carry a small portion of their pain for a little while so they don't have to. I truly do believe that there is no greater gift. All kids deserve a place of security, belonging, safety and unconditional love. 

– Lindsay Walder, Urbana, Illinois
hopeunswerving.com
@lindsay.walder