Let's find foster families
A young Nigerian boy looks out of his bedroom window. Hoping to see the flash of headlights. Hoping to hear the sound of tyres on the gravel drive. He isn’t waiting for the postman to deliver his shiny new bike. He isn’t waiting for his mate to collect him for the long-awaited cinema trip. He is simply waiting for his mum and dad to turn up to take him home — the mum and dad he has never met.
He waits his whole childhood. He thinks he would have made quite a good son, despite his high energy levels. He certainly would have made them proud the day he won his Olympic medals, or the day he was awarded an MBE for services to athletics. But Kriss Akabusi spent his whole life in foster care and care homes; potential parents visited him, but none picked him.
Campaign for fostering
Now Akabusi is backing a campaign to prevent this same fate happening to other children. With an unprecedented number of kids currently in care, and the government desperate to find 9,000 more foster carers and adopters for 4,600 so-called ‘difficult-to-place’ children, the Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family and the Churches Child Protection Advisory Programme have joined together to launch ‘Home For Good’.
This campaign calls on the 15,000 churches in the UK that they are in touch with to each identify and support just one family to foster or adopt. In this way the government’s targets could be met by the church alone.
According to the research conducted by Home for Good, many Christians are nervous that they would not be allowed to foster or adopt because their faith would be a barrier. But, contrary to these fears, the Home for Good campaign has already identified hundreds of Christians who are foster carers or adoptive carers and many social workers who appreciate how much families from the faith communities could offer. ‘Home for Good’ has been welcomed at the highest level in government — the Prime Minster David Cameron himself called for a ‘sea change’ in the relationship between the church and the state on this issue. Additionally the Home for Good campaign has been overwhelmed with invitations from local authorities to help them connect with the local church.
God and the lonely
At a meeting in Southampton in April, over 100 church leaders presented a plaque to the head of Fostering Services from Southampton local authority. This plaque pledged their commitment as local churches to find 40 new foster families. One of the leaders, Paul Woodman, had himself been in foster care as a teenager. He described the sense of belonging he felt when his foster family entrusted him with a front door key to their home. So he made the plaque with 40 front door keys and the Bible text ‘God sets the lonely in families’ (Psalm 68).
Dr. Krish Kandiah, Executive Director for Churches in Mission at the Evangelical Alliance, is an adoptive dad and a foster carer and heads up the Home for Good campaign. He says: ‘The Bible is very clear that caring for widows and orphans is the kind of religion that God accepts as pure and blameless. If we are to worship God as he deserves this must include stepping up to offer loving homes to the children that need families in our towns and cities. Please join the Home for Good campaign and help us change not only the lives of children in care, but our own worship, our churches and our nation’.
John Stevens, head of the FIEC, was himself adopted as a baby and promotes the Home for Good campaign in his blog: ‘I am personally very supportive of this initiative … As Christians we are all adopted and that ought not to be a source of embarrassment but one of praise and joy… Unfounded fears of potential prejudice can prevent us from taking action just as effectively as actual persecution. We mustn’t be cowed by distorted perceptions’.
Theology of adoption
Pete Greig, founder of 24-7, writes: ‘The story of God is a narrative of adoption into his family, the church. Adoption, in its broadest sense, is what we were saved for and what we were saved to do’. Krish Kandiah is very clear that it was his theology of adoption that first motivated him to approach his local social services: ‘Adopting my fourth child, and fostering numerous infants over the last seven years have been profound opportunities for us as a family to experience and express God’s Father heart’. With his wife, he has written a book called Home for Good which spells out a biblical theology for foster care and adoption with powerful stories from those involved in this ministry.
Kriss Akabusi’s video will be available from the ‘Home for Good’ website in time for Father’s Day for churches to use in their Sunday services. More information can be found at http://www.homeforgood.org.uk or at a Home for Good event in eight cities around the country or at a reception run at all three Keswick Convention weeks.