How Fostering Continues to Shape My Family Spiritually

Posted By John Camardo on Nov 27, 2013 | 5 comments


In my last post on Leading at Home, I spent some time unpacking why my family decided to get involved in fostering and some things we learned through our experiences thus far. One area that I wanted to spend some more time on was how that same decision has impacted my family spiritually.

For Me…

I have come to better understand what it means to show love sacrificially. Showing love at that level means that I am more concerned with the other person than I am about myself – which fights against everything in most (if not all) human beings as I believe we are, by nature, selfish. It’s always easier to show love to our family or friends than it is to a complete stranger. This is where the sacrifice comes in.

The gospel leaves no wiggle room as it relates to caring for the defenseless and I believe that anyone who calls themselves a Christ-follower should and could be doing something. That doesn’t mean that everyone brings a child into their home, but they could help those who do! More importantly though, I have had to learn to trust in the goodness and sovereignty of God – to trust that He is indeed good and in control. When the lives of these children are completely out of my control and I am relegated to a role of caring for them for a window of time without necessarily having a long term relationship with them, I need to be able to trust that God has these children in the palm of His hands and He is ultimately responsible for them.

It’s not an easy thing to trust when everything in us wants to control outcomes, but the alternatives are considerably more heart-wrenching. Let me explain what I mean…if my hope is not set in God, it is set in myself and what I can accomplish or it is set in a system that is only as good as those involved and certainly not in control of all outcomes.

If I am being total open and honest in this regard, I need to view my own children in the same open-handed way (whether I want to admit it or not).

For My Wife…

I believe she has had to learn many of the same things I have mentioned above, but I also believe she has had to fight against, as she phrases it, her ‘mommy instinct’ to protect and not get angry about the situation these children in foster care happen to be in.

Learning to love sacrificially includes loving the parents who had their children taken from them. It means not responding in anger when they continue to mess up and choose themselves over their children time and again. It means not allowing the anger you feel about what brought the children into care to cause you to make blanket judgments about people, but to work toward a better outcome and show the same measure of grace we have been shown. It means partnering with the parent(s) that hurt the child you are now spending countless hours trying to heal.

For My Children…

I have become more sensitive to creating opportunities for them to see the needs in the world and prepare them to respond. When I compare even my own childhood to what my children are experiencing, there is a growing tendency (especially in a suburban culture) to be concerned with their comfort and entertainment vs having a realistic view of life outside our home and community. Although we talked to them about fostering, we really didn’t ask for their permission. We secretly hoped that they would learn something through it because they had yet to be exposed to a very personal view of what life is like outside our immediate family.

Although there have certainly been some difficulties along the way, they responded so well to the drastic change in our home and the significantly less time they had one-on-one with us. We regularly reminded them that because of our family caring, these children are being given opportunities in life that otherwise would not be there. They are being given a chance to heal and grow.

I believe they have a deeper appreciation for each other as they quickly realized what they had before they were sharing their home and parents with other children. Furthermore, they have a better understanding of the life children in our own back yard are sometimes experiencing. This created a greater appreciation for the stability of a loving home environment – something you can easily take for granted if it is all you have ever known.

Even though it represents a pretty major commitment on our part, we truly believe it is leaving a lasting impact on our children as they learn to serve others and to be ‘others focused’ – regardless of the life circumstances those around us may be in.

For all of us – although painful at times, I pray that our experiences have and will continue to deepen our faith.

Do you have some examples of how your life circumstances and/or decisions (especially the difficult ones) have shaped you spiritually? I’d love to hear your stories!

5 Comments

  1. Loving someone who is at risk of, in some way or another, causing harm to a child (or someone you care for) or even hurting you, is truly a near impossible undertaking. It requires obedience, discipline and a heart of forgiveness and grace. I prayed just moments before I would have to speak to an enemy who was trying to steal away my loved one. When the conversation began, In my own mind, this person deserved to be told she was a liar and worthless. But my thoughts were not good or Godly because when filled with fear of loss and hurt, one becomes focused on the desire to protect one’s self (or little ones at risk of being hurt.) I knew I was not to go into attack mode, but did not know any words to speak. My earlier prayers were answered. I was amazed to hear the words coming out of my mouth and a totally unexpected love came over me for my enemy. I shared a story very similar to the circumstance we were experiencing. I told her I could not cast the first stone for I was not innocent or pure. She ended up praying with me and asked Jesus to speak to her heart and forgive her. She accepted that-the same Jesus (who spoke to a group preparing to cast stones to kill the harlot), would forgive her and love her. We continued to have struggles. She still had not perfected her life (nor I) but God would take it from there. It was out of my hands and placed into HIS. God has an incredible plan for each of us, some have come to pass and we dont even know it. Some amazing things are yet to come.

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  2. John, I love and admire your insight into the fostering of children. As you know, my situation is a bit different because the child I’m “fostering” is a relative. I am like Donna, a mom trying to protect, so I know what she is going through.
    I know that God has a plan and it has taken so long for his plan to even get to where I am today. I find it so difficult to deal with the parents because I know nothing has changed as far as making things “right” for the return of their daughter. I keep praying and telling myself, God is in control, and he has a plan, let it work!! Thank you for your blog.

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    • Thanks, Debbie! Without question, we need to trust that God cares even more for them than we do. I am thankful that you have been willing to open your home and bless the life of that sweet girl. We will continue to pray for you and your family.

  3. This is very good insight on your part John, you have the right reasons why you continue with such a program. I know the latest venture was and continues to be an emotional roller coaster but God has a plan, we just have to listen really hard to hear what His plan is even though it does not mean it is easy for any human. Love you lots and thanks for sharing….

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    • Thanks, Dawn! We continue to ask “what is God teaching us” as we walk through each situation and continue to trust that God is good and in control.

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