It’s 2 am and I am holding my 2-year-old as he coughs and cries. Our sweet boy has RSV and the nights are the toughest as he tries to sleep while coughing. We adopted him 8 months ago, but we are the only parents he has ever lived with. As I am holding him, I am wishing I could take the pain away and that something I do will help him get the rest he needs. But I quickly understand that my role at this moment is simply to hold him and help him feel surrounded in love in the midst of the pain.
That is the nature of foster care, and as a dad who has held several children in foster care or adopted from foster care in my arms, I have had the privilege of helping them feel surrounded in love while they struggle. Some of the struggles may be sickness but others may be related to insecurities because of past trauma. Either way, I rarely have the solution but can always hold them while they pass through it.
“To love the fatherless or the displaced child requires us (dads) to give sometimes more than we have. It’s important to know God’s Father heart for us as we give. He fills the gaps. It is hard work and sometimes painful but God never wastes that pain.” – Adam Watters – Grace Lindale
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of foster and adoptive dads. They are a special breed of men who are putting their families first, careers second, and themselves a distant last. When we get together there is little talk of sports, careers, or hobbies. They quickly dive into exciting stories about how God has answered prayers with their families and exchanges of ideas on how to best navigate challenges one of their kids may be experiencing.
In some ways, it is more difficult for dads to jump on board with foster care.
We are naturally the providers and protectors of our families and keeping our homes as safe and predictable as possible may seem contrary to bringing in an extra child or two. However, God’s calling on our lives is to help our families learn how to walk by faith and not by sight; how to trust the unseen over the predictable. It is also for us to realize that everything that God has blessed us with is for us to use to bless others.
“For me initially, I realized that after having raised two children, my wife and I had resources (i.e., a home for only the two of us) that God has given us. It raised a question, “We have all of these resources, why not share what God has given us with children who need it?” This led us to pursue the path of fostering/adoption.” Edgar Galdámez – Campus Pastor, Grace Español
The beauty of foster care is that we get to play a part in being the hands and feet for the Father to the Fatherless. As we show the Father’s love to these children we are able to help them understand that they are special, they are loved, and God has a plan for them.
So many of these children are the product of generations of broken families. Their parents never experienced a healthy family, so the only thing they knew how to hand down to their children was abuse and neglect. So it is that much more important for us who have experienced God’s grace firsthand to show that grace and love to these children as well as to their parents.
Grace Community has been one of the most committed churches to the effort to raise up Christ-centered families to help children in foster care in the Tyler area. You may have seen some of these families wandering through the halls on a Sunday morning, a mom with her entourage behind her and the dad taking up the rear holding an extra kid, diaper bag, etc. These families may not seem like they have it all together at times (or maybe they do), but either way, they are pouring out their lives for the sake of these children and their parents.
A few years ago, someone gave me a shirt that simply says “Obedience > Comfort.” I love to wear it because it reminds me that God does not usually call us to do what is comfortable. He calls us to do what we may not feel like we can do on our own. But when we are obedient we will experience the greater joy of bringing glory to Him and healing to someone in need.
“Foster care has been one of the best and hardest things our family has ever done. It has exposed us to deep brokenness, but has also shown us a very tangible picture of God’s deep love for us and the families we get to serve.” Matt Ravanesi – Campus Development Director, Grace Lindale
So what is so special about these foster dads? Are they super-spiritual?
They wouldn’t say so. Do they have perfect families? Far from it. They are simply giving their families to God so He can use them for His Kingdom.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us.” I John 4:12
If you would like more information on foster care, adoption, or serving the families who care for vulnerable children go here
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Pontius: email@example.com
Debra Kirby: firstname.lastname@example.org