As a foster parent, I deeply identify with the decision process of evaluating the risk of who you let in. When DHR calls us with a placement, my wife and I go through a process of deciding whether to allow a child into our home.
I always encourage people to be foster parents, but I have to be truthful. The risk is real. These children have issues. We have had our property destroyed and stolen. Children who have come from violence sometimes respond with violence. They don’t know anything else.
We’re not just evaluating the risk for ourselves. We have five other children. With every placement, we have to consider the danger to them.
For Christmas our kids were excited to get their own personal safes. We decided on this unusual gift after we found the boys burying some of their money in the backyard when they found out another placement was coming later that day. They didn’t ask us to turn the child away. They just didn’t want their money stolen again and took a reasonable precaution.
We love it when the foster children are precious babies or toddlers. They’re a delight to have in our home. The only worry with a young child is whether we can keep them safe.
But that’s not the norm. It’s often teenagers. They arrive late at night. The events that put them into foster care rarely happen in the convenient light of day. We feed them, put them to bed and then wonder, “Are we safe to go to sleep?”
We once woke in the middle of the night to our alarm blaring. The foster child who had arrived just two hours earlier had bolted out the door. We didn’t realize they had a cellphone and had told someone our address and called a getaway car.
It could have been anyone they called to our house. The violent parent that didn’t appreciate their child being taken. An older friend that saw them as prisoners trapped by cruel strangers.
We don’t blindly open our home to anyone. A few times we have evaluated the situation and said the risk was too great. But our philosophy isn’t that the risk should be zero. So many people say that we shouldn’t take foster children because there is always some level of danger.
Why do we do this? Because these children will be destroyed without a loving home to go to. Some are in danger for their lives. Some face lifetime trauma without the security of a home and loving parents. We can’t call ourselves good if we sit in our warm, safe home while children are abandoned to the streets.
What does it mean to be good?
I think a reasonable definition would be your willingness to take risk to help other people. There is little good in helping people when it’s convenient and safe.
Many years ago a visitor to our country said, “America is great because America is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, she will no longer be great.”
America needs to be good. It’s who we are. Let’s take the risk. Let’s open our country to those who need our help.
Could something bad happen? Yes. Should we examine each person wanting to come to America and reasonably reject the few that appear to be a significant danger? Of course. Should our philosophy be that we will accept no risk whatsoever while people are literally dying because they can’t flee the danger of their homelands? No.
If we want to be a good nation, what some would call a Christian nation, we must be willing to accept that our own safety isn’t the most important thing. Let’s make America great again by making America good again.