EVERY day, more than 50 children are taken into care in the UK.
As a result, 9000 foster placements are now needed, and 5000
children are waiting to be adopted. The Church can make a
difference. It is time for every Christian to practise the kind of
religion that God deems acceptable: "caring for widows and orphans
in their distress" (James 1.27).
That is why 200 churches in Britain will be taking part in the
first national Adoption Sunday on 3 November. It is being organised
as part of Home for Good, an initiative from Care for the Family,
the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service, and the
Evangelical Alliance to change the culture in churches, in order to
make adopting and fostering a significant part in their
Adoption Sunday comes at the beginning of National Adoption
Week, an annual event organised by the British Association for
Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). This year, the focus is on
overcoming the false information that surrounds adoption.
We are joining in to help to dispel the fallacies that many
Christians believe about the care system. I would like to challenge
five in particular.
1. 'I'm too poor/young/old/busy/single.
THIS summer, I met a foster family in their late 60s at the
Keswick Convention, who were camping with a three-week-old baby. I
came across a single woman in her 30s, who had had more than 100
placements since she began fostering in her 20s. I know a bishop, a
barrister, an oil executive, and a fork-lift truck driver who are
foster or adoptive parents. People from all walks of life and
income levels are being approved as carers across the UK. Don't
rule yourself out.
If you really want to care for vulnerable children, then the
selection process will help you to discover whom you can best
support. It may be a teenager with disabilities for one weekend
each month; or a five-year-old who has been waiting for months for
a "forever home"; or a baby who needs a carer for only a few weeks.
All sorts of children need all sorts of homes.
2. 'Social workers don't like Christians'
A SOCIAL WORKER is pulling her hair out, trying to find a doctor
who is willing to look at a foster child's dressings to allow him
to go on holiday with his new foster family. She and three
colleagues have spent hours phoning round GP surgeries.
When the foster carer finds out, he makes a call to a Christian
doctor in the next town, and within the hour, the boy has been seen
to, and is on his way to a caravan holiday the like of which he has
never had before. The social worker is amazed: "I wish everyone had
a support network like this," she says.
Every time I run a workshop for people considering fostering or
adoption, the number-one fear that Christians have is that social
workers will automatically rule them out because of their beliefs.
It is true that some social workers lack understanding, or even are
prejudiced about faith, but that is true in any workplace, and even
in some churches.
On the whole, the system is not biased against Christians, and
there are many Christian social-work professionals. Many local
authorities and adoption agencies are now approaching churches
through the Home for Good campaign because they recognise that
Christians are often motivated and properly supported to take on
what can be a self-sacrificial task.
3. 'I'm not good enough as a parent as it
THOSE of us who have never been parents worry that we do not
have the skills to look after a child in care. Those of us who are
already parents know that we constantly make mistakes. But if this
was our only consideration, nobody would come forward to adopt or
foster children who desperately need parents, even imperfect
I remember giving my six-month-old son a plastic toy phone that
I found on my driveway. He loved it. Several weeks later, however,
when he was playing with it, a flame shot out of the top. That was
just one of our "we-are-the-worst-parents-ever" moments, as we
realised that we had been allowing him to play with a
I could give you many other examples. But children in care are
not looking for perfect parents. They need loving parents who are
humble enough to be trained how to help children who have
experienced trauma. Thankfully, the support we receive from our
local authority is helping us to become better parents to our
birth, adopted, and fostered children.
4. 'Fostering and adoption would distract me from
NOT every Christian is called to be a foster or adoptive parent,
but playing our part in caring for the vulnerable is one of the
highest priorities that God gives to his people. In Isaiah 1.13-17,
God criticises Israel for failing to defend the cause of the widow
or orphan, and argues that they should not bother assembling until
this part of their worship is rectified.
Despite many Christians' living as if vulnerable children were
someone else's problem, God makes it clear that they are our
responsibility. Yes, we might have to miss occasional church
services, or step down from the coffee rota, but caring for
children in our homes is a vital ministry. Let's hear the challenge
to rediscover this, or at least to release others into it.
5. 'Children in care are troublemakers'
ONCE we were introduced to our next foster son with the words:
"He is a biter." What an insult to sum up someone's identity in
those four words!
That toddler was made in the image of God, with his own history
and sorrows, his own personality, strengths, and challenges. In the
nine months that he was part of our family, he never bit anyone in
our home, and the only tears he brought were when it was time for
him to move on to his "forever family".
Children in care have often experienced trauma, but they have
not usually caused it, and in the right environment, with
unconditional love and acceptance, they can work through issues.
This can be hugely rewarding for everybody involved.
CHRISTIANS are uniquely placed to see the potential in children
whom most people would cross the road to avoid. We believe in
healing, in second chances, in forgiveness, and in reconciliation.
We know what it is like to experience unconditional love, and we
are commanded to pass on that grace to others who need it.
Many children in care are labelled "hard-to-place" because of
physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or behavioural
issues. These are exactly the kind of vulnerable children who most
need a loving home. If Christians were to step forward to help
them, the authenticity of our faith and the message of our Church
would ring out loud and clear.
Dr Krish Kandiah is executive director of Churches in
Mission and England for the Evangelical Alliance, and teaches
part-time at Regent's Park College, Oxford. He and his wife,
Miriam, are foster carers, and have birth children and an adopted
child. He is a media champion for BAAF and the Fostering Network.
He blogs at http://krishk.com/.
The Home for Good website has information for those
considering fostering or adoption, and for churches seeking to
support them (www.homeforgood.org.uk).