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Tips on Christian Foster Parenting

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

From its earliest days, God’s people have answered the call to care for children who need a home. Deuteronomy 14:29, Psalms 10:18 and James 1:26-27 addresses how believers should extend care and support to orphans. The Wesley brothers, who founded the Methodist church, set up orphanages to care for children who had no family to care for them. Today, many Christians feel a call to provide foster care for children in need.


If you have the resources and the compassion for parenting foster children, you can contact a Christian foster program such as The Methodist Home, Bethany Christian Service or FaithBridge Foster Care. Get the training you need to reach out to children who need foster placement, but love isn’t all you need. Fostering can be rocky, and without training and support, you can create additional problems for foster kids if you aren’t prepared for the problems that often come when a child is removed from parents because of abuse, neglect or incarceration. Learn how to reach out to these kids and build a bridge of love and trust a foster child can hold on to, according to Adoption.com.

Live Faith

The homes that foster kids come from can be horrifically damaging, providing negative parenting models, according to the book, “The Compassion Revolution,” written by Dave Donaldson, cofounder of the charity Convoy of Hope. The book addresses how he and his family become involved in foster care. Your example can provide a healthy, loving, Christian role model for foster kids and for their birth parents, who might someday regain custody. Treat your foster child with love, fairness and impart the hope for a better future. If the foster child has no ties to the Christian faith, your example can create that connection and teach him about a loving God who cares for him. If the child and birth family have no strong objections, include devotions, Bible stories and church attendance in the child’s routine.

The Hurt Child

Your foster child might be carrying anger, poor personal boundaries, mistrust and fear when she arrives. Communicate your concern and desire to care for her at the same time that you establish clear limits and conditions on her behavior. Pray for your foster child’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual healing at the same time that you apply all of the tools you learned n in training. Reinforce the child’s belief in herself and her value as a human and a child of God. Praise her in specifics when she does well such as, “I’m pleased with the way you’re catching up in school. Your determination is impressive.”

Building Support and Memories

As a foster parent, you can work within the faith community. Address your child’s past in the most loving way, helping your foster child stay connected with his birth family, if possible, as you also help him build connections in the faith community. You can take pictures of the child enjoying various activities, building healthy memories the child can access when times are stressful. Never lose sight of the reunification goal that guides many foster placements. A scrapbook of the child’s life can anchor the love you share in the child’s memory.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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