Everyday Christmas #17: Fatherless

“We’re sending more foster kids to prison than to college.”

That’s a quote from a foster care worker in a special series released this week by the Kansas City Star investigating what happens to kids who age out of the foster care system in the U.S. You can read the main story here, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking and terrible.

We are failing so many children in this country. 443,000 kids are in the U.S. foster system, 23,000 of whom age out every year. 4,000 of those end up homeless, on the way to addiction and sex trafficking. Many more are headed for prison. We do more to investigate families than try to keep them together in the first place.

Foster kids are diagnosed with PTSD at a rate greater than Iraq war veterans. Many bounce from home to home. All they want is love and family and they can’t find it. The story opens with a kid now in prison who has the last name of a family who adopted him from foster care – and then gave him back.

Read the story. I know you don’t want to because it’s Christmas and everything is happiness and light, except it’s not. Lives are being ruined, and we’re not doing enough to help.

I don’t know exactly what that means, and I don’t know how to change the tide (yet), but I do know God’s heart is for the fatherless, and the church can and should do more.

Yes, it will be hard and costly and it will turn your life upside down to get involved, more than you even know. But these are souls made in the image of God who have nothing and no one and they don’t know where to turn and they need help.

You know whose example we should follow? Joseph, the husband of Mary, the father of Jesus. 

He found himself in a situation he did not expect. He was not the biological father of the baby in Mary’s womb, and he may have wanted to run the other way and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

But he didn’t. He stayed. He took responsibility for a child that was not his own, and he loved him and raised him and provided for him like Jesus was his own flesh and blood.

We need more people willing to do the same, and more people willing to help those people.

Jesus needed an earthly father, and as Joseph held the newborn baby in his arms and looked at the stars that first night,  he must’ve wondered how he was going to accomplish this task. We wondered that when we started to foster, and every foster parent feels the same way, and if you think that’s big, imagine how the kids feel. But the God who called and strengthened Joseph to be a father to his own son can call and strengthen us to care for the fatherless as well.

P.S. Read the story.

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