For as long as I, Allison Garrett, can remember, I’ve always admired fostering and those who took it on. As a teacher, I’ve had several students who were in the foster care system or living in very broken situations and it always stirred my heart. It seemed to be a distant thought or something I’d do “down the road,” after I was married and had a few kids of my own. A couple years ago during Orphan Weekend, Rob said something along the lines of, “We need to tell the city of Dayton that if they don’t want their kids, WE will take them.” I left sobbing. That desire had always been in my heart, but I realized then what a great need it was. I went home and began to pray seriously. That Sunday my desire transitioned from being a “down the road” idea to a “now” one.
I didn’t go home and sign up for classes right away. I prayed a lot. It was a growing burden that had moved to the forefront of my mind but wasn’t yet at the top of my to-do list. A couple months ago when my roommate got engaged, I felt the Lord prodding me. “Allison, you need to follow in obedience. You have nothing to wait for.” So I finally signed up for classes.
I did a little research and found an organization to take classes from. Classes teach you the history of foster care, mistakes others have made in the past and why there are certain laws in place to protect children and families. You also learn about difficulties and separation anxiety. The most difficult yet eye opening class was about birth families. What I learned was that I need to love the parents like Jesus would.
Initially, I had a lot of fears. Mostly about the unknown; how things work or what kind of child I'd be placed with. Other fears have also surfaced. The fear of failing. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of being unable to help a child who has significant needs or has been through things I don't understand. It’s also scary to do it alone! I know in those moments when I’m fearful that I need to seek the Lord. I truly believe He would not place this burden on my heart if it wasn’t going to bring Him glory! As I’ve gone through the process, the Lord has brought a lot of people associated with foster care out of the woodwork to be an encouragement to me. Those people remind me that the Lord has already gone before me.
There is a line in the song Oceans by Hillsong that says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.” That is my prayer! I can’t keep waiting. This is one more way that Christ will show me His faithfulness. It’s not ideal for me to be single while bringing a child into my home, but if you read through the Gospels, you’ll see how God does not use ideal people.
If any reader of this story is considering foster care, I would encourage them to read Isaiah 58, a passage I’ve gone back to many times during this process. The people are trying to show Christ that they love Him, but Isaiah tells them they are fasting in selfishness. Verse 10 says, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be as new as the day.” Verse 7 says, “Is this not my desire to bring the poor into my house?” If God has placed this desire on your heart, take the leap!
Practically speaking, the first step is prayer. There are several options in the Dayton area, both private and nationwide. Do your research and find the agency that is the best fit. Seek out others who foster, listen to their experiences … and then, go for it!
The best way to support someone who is in the beginning stages of foster care or currently fostering is through prayer. I need so much prayer for wisdom and guidance! I am so excited to see what God will do, have no doubt this experience will be growing and am very excited to meet these children!
Author: Emma Grace Carsey