What If We Treated Foster/Adoptive Parents as Missionaries?

I’ve long held the belief that adoptive/foster parents are missionaries. When I tell people about our international adoption, I like to say that not only did I visit the country, but I also brought some natives home.

This true for all adoptive/foster parents. We don’t clock out and go back to our dorm or hut or whatever the missionary lives in. We also don’t get on a plane and go back to the comfort of our own home.

What if We Treated Foster Parents as Missionaries_

As foster or adoptive parents, our home is a long-term (forever) mission base. We bring these kids who have been discarded by the culture, hurt by their parents, and harmed by trauma into our homes. There is rarely a respite.

I talked to Elizabeth King, a full-time missionary with twenty-two years under her belt. When she and her husband were presented with the opportunity to adopt two girls, they said, “More ministry? Yes!” They were up for it. Hadn’t they been practicing this for years? She says:

“But we were not really ready for the total onslaught of doing ministry right from the very core of who we were. Always before we had ministered outside of our home or had temporary visitors in our home. Our residence was a place of refuge from the rigors of ministry. But now, by accepting these broken girls into our lives – there was nowhere left to retreat to. Nowhere to relax. No escape from the desperate needs and destructive behaviors of the two hurting souls. We found that all our weaknesses, which we could hide pretty well in the course of normal ministry, were now staring us in the face every day.”

If we change the way we think about adoptive/foster parents and slide them into the missionary category, there will be changes in four areas:

Our Prayers

First, adoptive/foster parents will be prayed for more often. Think of how often we pray for missionaries. We tack their photos up on the fridge to remind us to pray for them daily. If we see adoptive/foster parents as missionaries, we will do the same for them.

  • Pray for safety. Adoptive/foster families need a hedge of protection prayed around them. They are in the midst of a battle.

“The protection of children isn’t charity. It isn’t part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps. It’s spiritual warfare.” – Russell Moore

  • Pray that they can minister the gospel. It’s tough to be in the middle of the battle and keep ministering the gospel at the same time. While there may not be actual bullets or bombs, foster and adoptive parents face many spiritual and emotional battles.
  • Pray that adoptive/foster parents will be able to teach and reach across cultural lines. Kids that have come from hard places have come from a different culture. Many of them have come from a culture of abuse and neglect. They don’t speak the same language or believe the same things. Most often when a kiddo is being fostered and he is brought to church with the family, the assumption is that he will immediately speak the language of religion. He won’t.
  • Pray that “the natives” will trust them enough to listen. Once these kiddos walk through the doors of our homes, we expect them to feel safe and secure and attach immediately. They won’t — and beyond that, they can’t. When kids come home through foster care or adoption, the foster parent isn’t automatically held in high esteem. Mom and dad aren’t regarded as trustworthy. They may be viewed as just another pit stop for kids with a garbage bag full of belongings. These kiddos may be thinking that these people will hurt/abandon/molest them too. These kiddos have never felt safe. Why would they feel safe with foster or adoptive parents they just met?

“With “normal” families, you can assume that if they haven’t asked prayer for something specific, they probably don’t have any really urgent needs. But foster/adoptive families kind of habituate to a higher level of chaos and urgency, and you feel like this is what they signed up for, so they won’t usually ask prayer for specific things.” – Kristin Peters, adoptive parent

Our Expectations

If we really, fully understand the full-time ministry that is fostering or adopting, we won’t be shocked when these families aren’t at church every Sunday. We would just assume they are doing their job.

Sometimes foster/adoptive parents are so deep in the trenches, they can’t escape. They’re working so hard on attachment with these kids that any break — even just to come to church — can destroy the work they have done. When my newbies first came home, we didn’t go to church or homeschool group for a while. After a while, I heard the gentle grumblings of the leadership wondering when I was coming back to teach.

When we did come back, I kept my kids with me. It was my primary job to attach to them. All of my other commitments were secondary.

Our Contributions

If we view foster and adopted parents as missionaries, we will do everything we can to make sure they are equipped spiritually, emotionally, and physically before going on their “mission.”

When my family traveled to Poland to adopt our four, we had Rubbermaid containers of supplies, suitcases, and books. On the second trip, the children’s church filled those same containers with supplies to leave at the orphanage for the kids and staff.

Missionary families need physical supplies. They also need training. Would you travel to another country to preach the gospel if you didn’t speak the language or at least have an interpreter? And wouldn’t you go to a Christian source for training instead of a secular one?

So, why don’t we offer spiritual and physical training from a Christian perspective for our adoptive/foster missionaries? It does exist. Why not offer it within the four walls of the church?

Our Involvement

Finally, if we view foster/adoptive parents as missionaries, we will consider it an honor to invest in their journey.

“God asks us to reach out to those who need Him. Adoptive families have done this in a more sacrificial way than most people could even comprehend. It is the right thing for the body of Christ to support those who have given themselves so fully to the care of the little ones God has sent them.” – Elizabeth King, missionary and adoptive mom

This is probably the most difficult one for the body of Christ to swallow. I’ve been told that since I chose to adopt, I just need to suck it up, so to speak. In case you are wondering, I did not receive or ask for money from the church to fund my adoption. But I sure wish it were available for other families. We pay monthly support to missionaries so they can do their thing. Why not do the same for foster/adoptive families on some level?

And there are other ways to invest in foster care/adoption, too.

“You’re either called to bring a child into your home or support those who do! – Real Life Foster Mom

You can take them dinner, offer to babysit, buy school supplies, get them a gift card, buy Christmas gifts, or — my favorite — take a foster/adoptive Mom out for coffee and LISTEN. Not all investments require tons of money. What they do take, however, is time. Sacrifice a bit of your time for those who have surrendered all of theirs.

“Adoptive parents are like missionaries on steroids. There is no furlough from this job, no let-up in sight. If missionaries should be honored and supported, adoptive families – especially those who have adopted children from trauma – need our love, our respect, and our support just as much – and likely more. Maybe finances aren’t an issue. But finding time for friendship when you know your friends will never understand what you’re going through anyway and the demands at home are overwhelming – it’s just so hard.” – Elizabeth King

 

 

 

Guest Blogger- Melissa Hoskins

This post is written by friend, Melissa.  I asked her awhile back to share some news about her Romanian adventures.  God is doing such a wonderful work through her.  Her testimony is a perfect example of Romans 8:28:
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.  
God has taken the wounds and shame from an abortion (as a teen) and turned her ashes into beauty.  She ministers God’s grace and healing message to those who suffer unfathomable guilt and remorse from past abortions.  Melissa also proactively counsels pregnant women through the Pregnancy Resource Center of Marion County where she serves as Center Director.  She carries God’s message of forgiveness and healing to our sisters in Romania.  Read her inspiring account, keep her in your prayers and remember God turns ashes into beauty.  He loves you!  
Here is a summary of my trip:
Summary of my trip to Romanian May/June 2013
When I arrived in Romania, my work started immediately. We arrived in Arad with just enough time to drop off my things and eat a light dinner and make it to the local Christian radio station for a live radio show. Lucia and Mary shared about MAMI and the Pregnancy Resource Center. I shared my testimony. Praise God that He gave me clarity and a clear mind as I had not slept in about 48 hours. There were several people who called in with questions that night.
We traveled the next morning to the Pregnancy Resource Center Staff conference. I was a surprise for the ladies. They didn’t know that I was coming. They asked Lucia for the months leading up to the conference if she was bringing anyone and she said no, unless God provides. At the last minute, God did provide! All praise to Him!!! It was an amazing time with the ladies and the Lord. We spent an hour and a half every morning worshipping the Lord together, praying together, and sharing from God’s word together. It sounds like angels singing when these women are worshipping and they pray with a passion and fervor that I have rarely seen in the U.S. Listening to and sharing what the Lord has placed on their hearts was priceless. These are true women of God who love the Lord and this ministry with all of their hearts. I was blessed and honored to just be in their presence. I shared my testimony and experiences with Pregnancy Resource Centers. I also shared about the PRC of Marion County…what we do and my work there. They had a lot of questions. It was interesting to see the similarities and also the differences in our ministries. One thing I noticed is that they have a lot more freedom to share Christ and the ugly truth about abortion than we feel we do here in the US. I think one reason for that is that abortion is so prevalent (3 out of 4 pregnancies end in abortion in Romania). The ladies also shared their testimonies of how they were called to this ministry. It was amazing how God handpicked them to be a part of His amazing work!
When the conference finished we traveled back to Arad, just in time to drop off our things and go to dinner. While we were at dinner, the pastor who came to the conference to do communion with us called and asked if we would come and speak to his three churches the next day. We said yes, so he traveled an hour and a half to get us and we were off again. The next day we began at 10:00 am and we finished at the last church at midnight. Lucia (President of Mercy’s Action Mission Inc.- MAMI) shared about MAMI and my vision for Ploiesti and I shared my testimony. It was a wonderful time of ministry and fellowship.
When we arrived back in Arad, it was sort of a day of rest. We met together and discussed my vision and heart for planting a Pregnancy Center in Ploiesti. I believe that God connected me to Lucia and MAMI for a specific purpose. It is my desire to be the connections person and fundraiser, but to open the center under this ministry. They are already established and have done this many times before. They know much better than me how to open a center, so it is my desire to do everything I can to help them do that. I shared that with them and we are all praying for the Lord’s will to be done.
When we traveled to Ploiesti, we met with many people. First, we met with Becky, an American who runs an orphanage in Bucharest. This meeting was mainly Becky sharing her experiences and encouragement, wisdom and prayer. It was a wonderful time and I appreciated her wisdom very much.
We then met with the Hope In Action Romanian team leaders, Marius and Roxana. It was a wonderful reunion for us. Lucia and I shared our hearts and vision for the Center in Ploiesti and they will pray and support us in any way they can. They are willing to set up meetings with others to talk about this opportunity when I come back.
We met with Gabi, the head nurse at the hospital in Campina, which was very informative. She said that they have about 10 abortions a day at her hospital. She is willing to refer women to the Center who are post abortive or in crisis pregnancies. Maybe even have a satellite center that the staff would travel to meet with clients.
We also met with the pastor of Nehemiah Church in Campina and his family. They are very supportive of this vision. They would like to take the training when we schedule it as they counsel and they want to be prepared when dealing with these situations.
We spoke on Sunday morning at SOS Ploiesti church. I shared my testimony and Lucia shared about MAMI and the vision. We were able to pray with several women. There were 7 women who are interested in the ministry and training. This is a message I received from one of the women I prayed with:
“The truth is that until this day that I first got to confess my sin for the first time, I thought that I have to pay for my sin the rest of my life, only with pain and suffering. I wasn’t able to be happy about anything good that happened in my life anymore. I thought that is the correct way to pay for my sin- through pain and suffering for that aborted child….he was a boy. After my daughter was born, I was afraid of everything. If she had a cold, or if anything bad was happening to her, I thought that God wants me to pay for my sin, through my daughter’s suffering. Again, I thought that I don’t deserve anything good in my life. I started to withdraw from everything and everybody. I never thought that I’m ever going to be able to talk about this with anybody. But then I confessed to Melissa and then again to my pastor and he told me that God is a God who forgives and that He is a faithful God who forgives and He is a faithful God and that He wants to set me free and wants to heal me. Today, when Melissa hugged me, I felt like I have known her my whole life. I look forward to seeing her again in September.”
This same lady emailed us and said that her husband was also touched by my story and he wants her to start looking for a location for the center in Ploiesti.
The Pastor at SOS is very supportive and recorded my testimony and aired it on the radio on Friday and Sunday. He has also offered to do radio spots for us when we get to that point to get the word out.
Sunday night we spoke at the First Baptist Church in Ploiesti. There were 4 women who want to be involved. The pastor’s wife is an inspector for the public schools and she said she has many connections and if we ever want to speak in the schools, she will help us. The pastor was also very supportive.
Praise God we went from step one to step four of opening a center in one day! The next steps are to raise the $10,000 we need to fund opening the center and find a location, then we hold the training and open. Please pray for these next steps.
The three older kids and I will return to Romania in September for the Hope In Action Missions trip. Please pray for wisdom for me to know if and how to use this trip to work on this opportunity as well.
I continue to pray for favor and open doors and the Lord has been faithful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support
Contact me @:  melissa.hoskins@rocketmail.com

Education

 

Education and Communication

I spend a great deal of time in the summer planning for the coming school year. I love it! I shop my own shelves, making piles of books everywhere and writing down a plan for each child. I begin with determining the theme for the year. Sometimes I spend hours, days or weeks determining the time period to study: early world history, middle ages, colonial, twentieth century or American civics and government? I had been struggling with the theme for the upcoming year until my husband mentioned the new Ann Coulter book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America. This launched a discussion on our current culture and talk radio. I had an epiphany- we should study today’s culture! I have spend years teaching my children history and setting up a foundation, it’s time they dig deeper in what is going on in the world today. Talk radio and talk mom and dad is not enough. We need more meat to chew on and discuss.

With several teens quickly approaching college age, it is important to me that they are able to understand the culture in order to be missionaries in it.

“The God of the Bible is a sender by nature. He is a missionary God who has sent his people into the world since Abraham. In the Old Testament he sent prophets like Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Jonah over cross-cultural boundaries. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to live as a man, in a particular time and place, with a particular people as a missionary in a sinful culture. The Father also sends the Holy Spirit to Christians so that we, like Jesus, might also live as missionaries in culture. The gospel that portrays this most clearly is John, where Jesus says roughly forty times, “The Father has sent me,” and then says in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – Mark Driscoll

When my children were younger, I prayed for their salvation, that they wouldn’t fall and get hurt, catch a cold, wreck their bikes, but as they got older my prayer focus changed. One of the prayers I pray for them is from Ephesians:

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).” Ephesian 4:29,30

Teens can be swayed by their peers in social situations to speak curses- to agree when they disagree- grieve the Holy Spirit and therefore lose their witness.

“Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation, regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. Just as what we may call holiness without love is not God’s kind of holiness, so also what we may call love without holiness, is not God’s kind of love…A false spirit of accommodation is sweeping the world as well as the Church, including those who claim the label of evangelical.”

Francis A. Schaeffer

8See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah).
Col. 2:8