There are many types of families. Some kids live with both parents, others live with either just mom or just dad or go back and forth between their parents' homes. Others might live with a grandparent.
And some kids live with a foster family. The word "foster" means to help someone (or something) grow and develop. It also means to take care of someone's needs. Foster parents give children a safe place to live and grow. All kids need and deserve someone to take care of them. Kids need a home, a place to sleep, nutritious food to eat, clothes to wear, and toys to play with. Kids need someone to love them and someone who does not hurt or abuse them.
In 2014, Over 415,000 children were in foster care. Each year, approximately 22,000 youth emancipate — or "age-out"— from the foster care system when they reach age 18 or finish high school. (Some states have extended care through the ages of 20 or 21.) Youth in foster care often do not get the help they need with high school completion, employment, accessing health care, continued educational opportunities, housing and transitional living arrangements. Studies of youth who have left foster care have shown they are more likely than those in the general population to not finish high school, be unemployed, and be dependent on public assistance. Many find themselves in prison, homeless, or parents at an early age.
In Matthew 12:48-50, Jesus points out that spiritual relationships are as binding as blood relationships. "He replied to him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.' " He was paving the way for a new community of believers - the church - our spiritual family. Going to live with a foster family means a lot of changes; not all of them bad ones. It can feel good for the kid to be in a calm, new place. But there are challenges, too. It may be tough getting adjusted to foster parents and the rules they have at their house. There may be other children in the family to get to know. But Jesus reminds us that ties to spiritual family are stronger than blood ties. Let us begin to see every person as a brother or sister and to recognize the bond we have as the body of Christ.
ACT ON IT: Encourage your teen to meet new kids at school.
JOURNAL: Write about your family, whether or not you all live under the same roof. Give thanks for the ways God is working in your lives.
PRAY: Ask God's blessing on foster children everywhere.