Blue Ridge Christian News

[The following article was published in the 'Carolina Christian News' newspaper]

Is education the only way to help foster children succeed in life?

By Ed Rosella

Recently I heard a charity's radio advertisement. It said, "It takes more than providing clothes, food and shelter to help foster children - it takes…" I expected to hear "family." Instead they said "education" - my heart sank! The ad continued, "Only by providing education can we give foster children the tools they need to break the cycle and become productive with normal families of their own." My heart sank even more! Is education the only way to help foster children succeed in life?

I agree with this charity's efforts to provide education for American foster children because only 3% finish college. Our ministry also provides funding to send Romanian orphans to college. Education is necessary to give foster children opportunities to develop careers, but education doesn't break their cycle of loneliness and insecurity. Education won't give them a sense of belonging, help them make good moral choices, or teach them how to become loving mothers and fathers.

God's way to help foster children succeed in life is found in Psalm 68:6, "God sets the lonely in families." When foster children find the love and acceptance of adoptive parents their cycle of tragedy can be broken. The examples they see within a family will help them develop healthy families of their own; the acceptance they feel will help them face life's challenges.

My wife and I adopted three siblings. After a year, my wife went away from them for the first time. Our seven-year-old adopted son looked upset. I asked, "What's the matter? He said, "I'm almost going to cry - I miss Mama!" I was amazed to see the mother-son bond that developed in his heart in such a short time. When foster children feel an adoptive mother's love they begin to blossom.

Last summer, my daughter hurt her finger playing the game Red Rover at an orphanage in Romania. The children started to make fun of her. She was embarrassed and ran to me for protection. I hugged her and removed her from the situation. After a few minutes, I sent her back into the game. A short time later a foster girl fell down. The kids laughed at her as well. My heart broke when I saw that she didn't look for anybody - she sat down and cried alone! When foster children know an adoptive father's protection they feel secure.

The Bible tells us that Queen Esther was beautiful in appearance and character. God used her to save the Jewish people, but her life could have taken a different path if it wasn't for her cousin, Mordecai. When Esther became an orphan, Mordecai raised her as his own daughter. He clothed her, kept her safe, and taught her about God. She grew into a godly woman under his care. Mordecai saw a princess in Esther long before she became queen to the nation. Many American foster girls desire to have adoptive fathers like Mordecai.

A social worker wrote the following about a foster girl: "Jane (not her real name) is extremely bright and gifted; she skipped the third and fifth grades. She looks forward to continued success in her education. One of Jane's biggest dreams is to find an adoptive family of her own. A loving, supportive and energetic family could make all the difference for this deserving teenager." This social worker recognizes that even though Jane is well educated, she needs the love of a family to be complete.

Education is important to help foster children develop careers, but education won't warm a child's heart - only a mom and dad can do that! In America, there are over 100,000 foster children available for adoption and over 300,000 churches; we have the ability to help. The message that family brings healing is God's message - may God use His church to provide families for them.