Don't get me wrong. There is a tremendous lack of foster parents and respite caregivers in the United States. So many children in our country do not have a stable home environment because there aren't enough foster parents willing to take them.
In some cities, you can find Safe Families - an organization that contains members who are willing to take children into their homes for limited periods of times as their parents work through homelessness, addiction, or other difficult problems that make raising children almost impossible. Government intervention does not take place. They do not remove the children.
It takes a courageous parent to have the strength and the awareness to say, "I can't do this right now. I need help."
Before a home situation becomes too dangerous or complicated, before CPS becomes involved, and before true foster parents are needed, imagine if biological parents felt like they could ask for help without being judged or criticized or blown off entirely. Imagine if the church had families that would say, "Yes, I will take your child or your children for a short period of time while you adjust your life to fit them back. For a day, for a week, for a month, I am here to support you as a parent." Imagine how foster care would look different. Imagine helping a child to adjust and attach and develop in light of his best interest, on a biological parent's terms.
Not long ago, a single mother in my city approached me and confessed just how hard parenting alone has been for her. She was overwhelmed beyond words and had not slept in days. She felt like a terrible mother; but all what needed was rest. An evening, a night, and a morning of crawling babies in my house was a source of joy for me and a much-needed time of sleep and alone time for this brave young mama.
Sometimes being a safe family means spending a little of yourself to refill someone else. Sometimes it means sacrificing time or energy or even some money. But it means making a government issue a church issue and a family issue. It means intervening before anyone else has to intervene. And it means shining Christ to someone who is feeling more overwhelmed than I can imagine.
Will you consider becoming a safe family? You can learn more here.