I was struck this week by the need for "community." As a parent of four biological children and four foster children, just surviving can be exhausting. Just like any family, there is never enough milk in the fridge, clean clothes in the drawers, money on the lunch account, time to get places, or adults to drive. But this past week in my little circle of foster parents, I was reminded of the heaviness that children in foster care carry, along with the foster parents who shoulder the burdens alongside them in addition to the normal craziness. In one week we saw one child face a move and yet another transition and new school, as biological parents also faced a termination trial. We saw another child move from a temporary home to another home, hoping to be closer to siblings and connection. We saw other children who went home to biological parents for a year, return back into foster care with more needs and instability than ever -- and a foster parent waiting and willing to take all that back into their home out of the desire to be the one constant for these children, regardless of the immense cost to the foster family. We saw other children have to face the histories of abuse and meet the challenges that brings as they grow up and try to find "normal." It gets to be too heavy for any one child, or even one family, to bear.
But here is the JOY -- we also saw people gather as a community and support those great needs this last week. Sweet teachers stepped in to help a child with transitioning to a new school. Another foster family stepped in to take a child into their home when they had to move in order to alleviate the burden of a maxed-out foster home. Families who do not foster decided to take meals to the foster home taking extra kids who came back into custody. A family who had been thinking about fostering opened their home so siblings could stay close together. People brought clothing to share with kids who needed it. Moms committed to pray for children in foster care, even though they aren't their own, as they were facing some tough situations from their past. And that is where the joy comes from. That is what community can accomplish. "Community" is defined as "the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common."
Community is essential to foster care. It requires people to gather around a child in need and share the attitude that we will care. We will help carry the burden. We will be inconvenienced. We will be sad and a little overwhelmed at the brokenness of the world. But we can all do something. At Joy Meadows, we want to bring joy in the journey to healing and home. That journey looks different for each child and each foster family. But the needs are the same. The community of caring is essential. We can do this!