For 17 months we loved and nurtured Timmy before it was time to say goodbye. Since we were first married, foster care was on the agenda for my husband and I, beginning with the challenge of hearing James 1:27 preached—‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.’ We witnessed friends care for a foster baby, instilling the value and revealing the challenges of fostering. So, about 10 years later, with two daughters of our own, we began our foster care journey. After settling in one place after a time of moving around, it was time to give it a crack.
The time God gave us to nurture this little one is something we are so thankful for. Every time we see that photo on the wall of him with our family, it’s a reminder of the blessing he was to us and the immense value of caring for one in need. The joy of seeing Timmy grow and develop into a healthy little boy, the precious memories of hugs and laughs, triumphs and tragedies (no TV remote for you buddy) are blessings we deeply treasure. The privilege of witnessing Timmy’s character develop, his unique personality blossom, and his independence grow, are all gifts from God. The emotion of being the parents he ran to for comfort and looked to for security was often overwhelming; at such a key time in his life, this little fella wanted and needed us.
We expected, through our foster care training, and as followers of the crucified Jesus, to experience the unique challenge and cost of nurturing a child. What we did not expect was how God, through our care of Timmy, would awaken love and nurture in others coming with us on this journey. Most obviously, our daughters grew to love Timmy, who they had no immediate connection to. It was beautiful to watch them care for him and realise the power of love they can show to one less fortunate. They still miss him and express that in different ways. Yet they are already asking us when we will be looking after another foster child.
Less immediately (in the proximity sense), but no less importantly, was the love and care of our church family. In particular, the willingness of the men in our small group to connect with Timmy was a privilege to witness and a wonderful reminder of what true James 1:27 gospel community looks like. One bloke would be sure to come up to us at church to play with him, and soon Timmy would be bossing him around, telling him where to sit and where to go. Our church family really welcomed and accepted Timmy and grieved and prayed with us when he left to live with his biological father.
Fostering also opened many conversations with people in our community about their own difficult lives and traumatic past experiences. We found there was a willingness to share and a connection formed when people learnt we were foster carers. Some expressed thankfulness in recognising that what we were doing for Timmy had been done for them. Sadly, others expressed gratitude when they saw we were doing something that had not been done for them. This has nurtured new and deeper relationships that we hope to be able to continue to speak into over time.
We are thankful for all God has taught us in caring for Timmy and we are depending on Him to continue to nurture Timmy, that one day he might come to faith. We wait to see who He will give us next to care for, knowing it will be in His strength that we can nurture another.
There are government and non-government foster care agencies in Australia, including church-based agencies like Anglicare and Wesley Mission. For more information about fostering in NSW, the NSW Government Department of Communities and Justice website is a good place to start (www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/carers/about-foster-care). In the ACT, see ‘ACT Together’ (www.acttogether.org.au/).
Sophie and her husband John* live in Canberra with their two daughters. They love serving in their local church, time with family and friends and watching cricket all summer long.
* Names changed
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