Many would describe our foster care system as broken. In the media, we hear about the abuse children face in foster care. Although some children in foster care experience abuse and neglect, there are a lot of amazing foster parents who are doing great things in the lives of the children who come from broken families and difficult pasts. There are many children grateful to be placed in the hands of incredible adults who have answered to the special calling of becoming foster and adoptive parents.
Here are the stories of those who have courageously answered their calling to make a difference in the lives of the children in foster care.
Young and Single: Kaley Eggers’ Foster Care Story
“It first entered my mind as a ‘maybe-one-day’ kind of thing in June of 2011. March of 2014 is when I realized it was something I needed to do soon. I was licensed in September of 2014 and have been fostering since then!”
While in graduate school, Kaley Eggers made the decision to be a foster parent when she interned with different foster care agencies. She envisioned it being several years before becoming a foster parent—once she was married and had a successful career.
After graduating, she was hired at a school as a social worker. She saw several children go through struggles, but one student in particular caught her attention. His life was filled with unbelievable chaos. One day, a CPS worker came to the school and interviewed him regarding potential abuse.
Kaley was heartbroken. She cared deeply for this child. After the interview, she found the investigator to inquire if the student would need to move schools if removed from his home. The investigator looked her dead in the eye and said, “Of course, there are no open foster homes in the area.” This was all the prompting Kaley needed to go straight to her office and research foster care agencies.
Six months later, she was licensed to welcome placements! Although she was terrified, there were so many unknowns: her singleness, fears, worries, and uncertainty about the future. But they paled in comparison to her knowledge that children in her community needed a safe and loving home. She had no clue what God was up to, but she is so grateful she took the leap of faith four years ago.
Through her experience, she humbly admits the greatest barrier has been her own selfishness. She began thinking solely about what she would lose, forgoing her safe, predictable life, her flexibility. But she had no idea what she might gain. Now, she describes her life as being so much richer. She is a different person now than four years ago. Her transformation has been a great thing in her life.
To name some of the most impactful moments, her first placement became her forever son one and a half years after his arrival. But she also celebrates greatly when her former foster children return to their biological family. This surprises a lot of people considering it is celebrating the departure of a child she has loved as her own. It is hard, undoubtedly, but she said the joy on the mother’s face upon return will forever be in her memory as an example of Christ’s redemption, restoration, and grace. Truly unforgettable.
A logistical challenge for her has been being a single foster parent. Her schedule is not her own any longer, and she must choose grace constantly even when stressed. In addition, children experiencing trauma often express it through behavioral challenges. Kaley chooses to look beyond the learned behavior to see the child for who they are however tough this is at times. It is only through God’s grace that she can show love to their biological families.
She is tempted to ask questions such as “how could these parents allow this to happen to their own child?” But she acknowledges boldly she has not lived their life. She was born into an incredibly supportive family that allowed her to easily attend college and graduate school. Shortly after graduation, she got a stable job and has consistently been surrounded by people who model love, respect, and integrity.
For Kaley, “The bottom line is that these biological families of foster children are human beings and children of God who are worthy of my love and respect—even if we disagree with their choices.”
Family of Five Plus: The Kolbs’ Foster Care Story
For years, Kristen Kolb had a nagging to take the plunge into orphan care. She had no idea what it would look like or when it was time to begin their journey (especially with their youngest turning four).
But in September of 2017, the whole family dove in. A lot of prayer and communication took place amongst the whole family during the training. As parents, it was important that Seth and Kristen gauged their children’s emotional responses during the process to ensure their commitment.
Training was one of the greatest challenges since their biological children required babysitting as the couple drove across town to attend long classes in the evening. Seth and Kristen completed their courses throughout the winter. The family was officially licensed in March of 2018.
Between March and July, the family has had three placements: two of which were drug-addicted newborns. Describing their foster care experience, Kristen says, “The truth is what we thought would be orphan care has really turned into broken family care with reunification as the number one goal.”
She emphatically expressed how foster care is far more about being a safe place to land while decisions are made and details worked out. The care goes beyond the child and into the lives of broken families.
Seth and Kristen compared foster care to stepping into the trenches. In order to be successful, you have to have a foundation of friends, prayer warriors, and resources lining the trench and reaching in to offer you support as you navigate the uncertainty and the rocky ground.
An additional challenge is the training required for friends and family in order for them to provide the Kolbs’ respite care. CPR classes and FBI fingerprints aren’t easy to come by. Although the journey is bumpy with weary moments and grief-filled days, the eternal benefits outweigh the hardships incomparably. It might be a mess, but it is a beautiful one.
The family especially praises God for how He has blessed them with sufficient grace to press forward with anticipation and hope for each new placement. Their hope is that they impact these children with love and prayers in the short season they stay with them. They emphasized how each child is a treasure bringing joy into their home. Their prayer is for the children to someday know God’s grace and become one of His sheep.
How We Can Impact the Foster Care System
The foster care system can be overwhelmed with children needing placements—some needing temporary placements and some needing more permanent placements. It can be difficult to find homes for infants, toddlers, and teenagers. Some of us might be called to become foster parents. Some of us might be called to adopt children in the foster care system. Some of us might be called to support foster and adoptive families.
Support for the families might be praying with your LifeGroup for the families, providing necessary resources, attending a court date for support, or babysitting to give the parents a night to themselves. Most of us probably have something we can do to make an impact in the lives of children that have to face the foster care system.
To find out how you can connect with and support foster and adoptive families, join us for our Foster Care Dinner on Sunday, July 15, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Legacy Campus (281 Building). Dinner and childcare will be provided. To register for this event, visit Foster Care Dinner Registration. We are looking forward to making an impact with you!