Birthdays in Foster Care

There is not a more sobering day for a foster parent than the birthday of a foster child (only giving a beloved child to someone else compares). We have had two little fellas turn ages 5 and 6 during their stay with us. Every child deserves to be surrounded by the love, laughter, and comfort of friends and family on his special day. Instead, many children experience a day surrounded by strangers who are just trying to do their best to make a child feel cherished. It is a reminder that the world is exceptionally broken and it costs innocent victims dearly.
It is bittersweet. This day both times has reminded me that his life is not what it should be, and I can’t fix that BIG loss, only God can. However, this day has reminded me of the huge responsibility and honor we have to ensure a child feels special, valued, and honored in his time with us. The very people who were given this precious gift from God, who should be there to wake him up on his special day and to tuck him in that night are nowhere in sight to say, “You are special, I’m glad you are mine.” I get to say those special words of blessing over a child.
Delicate streamers remind me of how their fragile connection with family has been torn apart, and of the frail connections we forge with children during our time with them as we seek to build trust that we never broke. Balloons are like the families of these children that were full of chaos leading up to a real popping apart crisis: a stay in foster care. Foster parents are working 24/7 to re-inflate their precious balloon-child, a soul of a child that has been injured. It can’t hold air like it did before. It is painstaking work where regular parenting strategies don’t always work, but eventually, the child begins to breathe in again, the air of hope. The air of love. The air of Jesus. He begins to re-fill. A tantrum free day. A full night’s sleep. Learning to ride a bike. Learning a Daddy can be gentle. He starts to feel tethered to a string, a family, that’s holding him while he once again soars in the wind, waiting for the DSS wind to blow him around, hopefully, back to his biological family by the next birthday. If not, a new balloon-child can be tethered to an adoptive family, by that precarious string-connection the foster family taught him to hold onto. He knows though the wind may blow again, he can hold on and be attached, connect, love, and trust another stranger to care for him like family should.
Foster families are generally paid $13-$15 dollars a day for caring for children. As you know, a birthday cake and wonderful party is costly. Would your family, church, civic group consider helping support a family to throw a “bang up” birthday party for a child this year? Your support could be for a venue, gifts, or a special birthday cake. Every child deserves a special celebration of his life, and you can be part of that memory! Let’s worship Him and His wonderful work in a foster child in our community.
Psalm 139:13-16 MSG
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.


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