Jonathan and Amy Holden have responded to God's call to take on the cause of the fatherless. Amy shares their story below.
Foster care was always something we wanted to do. When Jonathan and I were first dating we often talked about having a few biological kids, and also growing our family through foster care and adoption. I am not 100% sure where the desire to foster came from originally, but as we continued to date, get married, and start a family, it was very much at the forefront of our minds.
When we were living in Long Beach, the church we attended had an awesome ministry to foster families. People in the church could sign up to bring meals to families who had just accepted the placement of a child in their home. This was an awesome opportunity to serve these families, but it also gave Jonathan and me an insider's peek into what it might be like to bring children into our own home.
We also felt the weight of James 1:27 which says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." This verse very clearly calls the Christian Church to care for the fatherless. It is not something that we could choose to do if we wanted, it is something that is mandated as an outpouring of the love Christ has for us. For us, it was not a question of SHOULD we care for children in foster care, it was a question of HOW we could care for children in foster care.
In ancient Roman times, it was common for people to take their children and “expose” them – meaning that if they birthed a girl and wanted a boy or had too many other children to take care of, they would leave the child outside the city limits and the child would most likely die from exposure. This common practice was that culture's way of getting rid of unwanted children, and it was not considered murder because there was a chance that someone else would pick up the baby. As a way of caring for the fatherless children during these times, Christians in the First-Century Church would go to the outskirts of these cities and rescue abandoned children from being picked up by slave traders or eaten by wild animals.
When I heard this, my heart absolutely broke. I could not imagine being in a place where I had to choose between exposing my newborn baby or feeding my other children. And while this sounded barbaric and like something that couldn't be happening today – I knew it was. It is why foster care exists. Mothers are so caught up in addiction or abusive relationships that they are having to choose between their children or life as they know it. Dads are so caught in the cycle of abuse, that they do not know anything different than neglect and violence. This knowledge solidified the call that our family was to become one that would welcome children into our little tribe – even if it was an “inconvenience,” even if we “got too attached,” and even if it was only for a short season. Jesus didn't allow inconvenience or pain to stop Him from being beaten and dying for you and me.
After getting through school, moving into a house with more than one bedroom, and having our biological son, we knew we were as ready as we were ever going to be to become full-blown foster parents.
Two years into it, I can honestly say that it is one of the hardest things our family has ever done. We have had two placements – one little boy that was with us for six weeks and one little girl that we were able to adopt. The first little boy (we called him Dre) was the sweetest little nugget and having to say goodbye to him was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Mothers are not meant to have to say goodbye to their babies, and each time I had to tell my then 2-year-old son where his brother was, my heart broke again. While I know he is where he is meant to be, a piece of my heart is still with that little boy.
Foster care also brought me one of the greatest joys in my life – my daughter Nora. It was a crazy journey, but the beauty and the weight of the fact that a little girl who grew inside another woman’s womb calls me mama, will never be lost on me. Her story is truly one of redemption and proof of the faithfulness of God.
While I do not think everyone is called to foster or adopt – I do think that as disciples of Jesus who have been adopted into HIS family – we are all called to do SOMETHING. What is it going to be for you?
Editor's Note: Amy is the Student Ministry Director at Ventura Missionary Church.