Thursday, April 4, 2013

If Not Me, Then Who--Thoughts on the Foster Crisis in America

Okay, my friends, I know that the last few posts are far from being about a slightly crunchy lifestyle.  Sometime soon, I will write about how to choose healthy fish to eat or whole food lunch ideas for vegetarians (because I know you'd all be interested in that, haha!).  For now, though, I feel compelled to write some things that I've been mulling over and wrestling with.

Someone quoted this to me last night:  "The orphan crisis in America was so much easier to bear before I knew their names."  For some reason, that statement stunned me.  I knew that there were 400,000, give or take, children in foster care in the U.S. on any given day, but for some reason the idea that we have an "orphan crisis" going on here never crossed my mind.  But think about this:  research shows that foster children are more likely to experience homelessness, poverty, compromised health, unemployment and incarceration after they leave the foster care system.  Only about half get a high school diploma, 2 out of 100 get a bachelors or higher, and 84% have their own children too young, therefore continuing the cycle of poverty and, too often, neglect. (www.angelsfoster.org)

There is a cycle of abandonment, neglect and abuse rampant in our society, and I believe that it comes down to this:  We are not respecting other people as humans.   Otherwise, how could there be 18(19?) murders in a town the size of Montgomery, Alabama in a three month period of 2013?  How can 1 in 5 children be the victim of bullying?  We don't value each other.  We don't stop long enough to think this is a person before judging them for disagreeing with us, wearing the wrong clothes, having the wrong skin color, or the wrong family background.

I said in my last post that every baby deserves a family, to be loved and adored just because they are who they are.  But doesn't every child deserve a family?  I'm really wrestling with this as we are called about placements.  We love being foster parents, but it is hard.  Do I want to do this more, take on more, love more, hurt more?  And then I think about James (1:27):  Pure and genuine religion means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Which leads me to ask this question, "If not me, then who?"  Who will step in and stop the cycle?  Live and let live is not good enough.  We have to be willing to wade in where life is messy.  Jesus never turned away from a person who needed Him, never backed away from a challenge, never, throughout centuries, left us to fend for ourselves.  We must look at these needy ones through the eyes of love and have the nerve to say, "I will."  There is an orphan crisis in America and every one of the 400,000 of them is a person, with a name.

3 comments:

Mary Curry said...

Stephanie, this is a beautiful post.

My grandmother took in more than 50 foster children in her lifetime. I knew she did really important work, but I had no idea the crisis was so large. Thank you for opening my eyes today.

Stephanie Newton said...

Thank you, Mary. What an amazing legacy your grandmother left!

Rachel Goode said...

Amen... this is something I'm struggling with right now, too! Thanks for posting!