Fostering and the Christian faith seem to have many close parallels and flow one from the other.
You don’t necessarily need to have a strong faith in order to feel compassion for a fellow human being and especially a vulnerable child. There can an innate desire to help where possible, and to share some of the home comforts we take for granted.
Of course taking strangers into your home is not a trivial thing, and it will impact upon all the current household. There needs to be agreement from everyone that the fostered child will be welcomed and integrated into the family and any house rules.
Certain core Christian values seem to support fostering. Everyone’s right to privacy and security needs to be recognised. People need their own space wherever possible, and rules such as always knocking on doors before entering should be adhered to.
We have found eating our main meal seated together as a family a great integrator, and a way to discuss any household issues. Other activities together, such as a simple game of cards further the bonding process, and allow expression whilst having fun.
The opportunity to attend church on a Sunday of course is always there, but never forced upon the child. Should they practice any other faith, then naturally this is to be respected and supported in a practical sense as needs be.
Fostered children are often coming from chaotic backgrounds, so it will be a culture shock to enter a calm, disciplined Christian household. Patience is needed to manage this transition, and allow the child time to adjust and find trust in this new environment.
We have found routine a wonderful settler where the child knows what to expect and the standards that are expected in return. Bed times are regulated to ensure sufficient rest for school the next day, and any tablets or phones are switched off some time before bed to aid good quality sleep.
We stress the importance of not lying as a fundamental value, and always feeling able to express an opinion or voice any concern.
It is always a useful exercise to allow the child to draw up their own house rules and these can then be amalgamated with any existing rules to provide a clear pathway forwards. Children are encouraged to help around the house, assisting in everyday chores such as washing up or cleaning. This teaches useful life skills as well as a sense of responsibility in contributing towards the house running.
Being a Christian means helping others to be the very best they can be, after providing the safe haven they needed. A child’s interests should be encouraged, and progress praised in any new developing skills.
Living in a foster home promotes respect for others. We can all learn from each other, and in time grow as a family unit. It’s not always an easy process, particularly when the child is first placed in a foster home. Sometimes the placement will break down, and it will be in the best interests of everyone that another home is found. The carers need to be flexible to this, yet steadfast in their willingness to help, and provide security.
We are all God’s children. He loves us all and will provide for us all in time as we place our trust in him. Fostering is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that whilst living a Christian life.
Richard is a foster carer with Greater London Fostering.
Call 0208 347 8741 or email [email protected]ing.org if you’ d like to find out more. We welcome people from any religious or non-religious background.