Our society is “aborting” babies in the fourth trimester. That’s the first 3 months after a child is born when the baby is very new to this world and Mom is still getting her bearings. These babies are given a chance at life, but no one is doing the work after birth to ensure the child and mother are taken care of. One could argue it’s no different than aborting the child in the first place. At the very least, we shouldn’t be judging the mothers for choosing abortion if we’re not going to be there when they choose life.
For those of us who believe life begins at conception, abortion is nothing short of murder, whether it happens in the first trimester or right before delivery. Everyone who calls themselves “pro-life” is up in arms about the recent legislation in New York and Virginia, allowing so-called “late-term” abortions. The Virginia governor even went so far as to seemingly justify killing a baby that survived delivery. How could anyone possibly think it’s ok to end that baby’s life?
Maybe it’s because of what happens next. Maybe it’s because no one is there for the next step. No one is coming to the mother’s aid, helping her navigate this life-changing event. No one is stepping in and saying, “I’ll take this baby and give it a good life.” We can hold our signs up proudly and share the Facebook articles, claiming abortion is the worst sin imaginable and that we must change the world’s view on this atrocity. But so few people seem willing to act past that point. We put our signs in our trunk and drive away, returning to our comfortable lives. We share the post on social media and scroll on to the next funny #momlife video.
Stick with me here before you think I’m asking every pro-lifer to adopt all the unwanted babies. It doesn’t have to be that complicated or that simple. Some of you are meant to bring these children into your home, either permanently or temporarily. Fostering and adoption can be beautiful experiences that create amazing, loving families. But fostering and adoption can also be very painful, lonely and exhausting. So many of the families who said yes to the children in need are saying yes over and over again, taking 5, 6, 7 kids into their home. Because not enough people are saying yes and these parents have a servant’s heart that wants to help every single child without a place to call home. Many of these families already have multiple biological children, and then they’re taking in several foster kids as well. Kids who’ve experienced things you cannot imagine. Kids with so much emotional baggage, they can barely function sometimes. Kids who need an incredible amount of therapy in different forms. Throw in court dates and visitation with biological parents, along with school and extracurriculars, and it’s a wonder these foster families are surviving, let alone smiling through it. But that’s the thing… so many of them are smiling through it! I have yet to meet an exhausted, overwhelmed foster mama who says she wishes she’d never taken in these poor kids. In fact, most of them say they wish they could take in more, even when they already have 8 kids in their home! The thing is… once you see the need, once your eyes are opened to the horrible things these kids are going through, you can’t get it out of your mind. It haunts you. Especially if you already have kids of your own. Picture one of your own children, alone, abandoned, scared and sad, moving from house to house, constantly feeling unwanted, not having any needs met. It becomes impossible to ignore.
So let’s talk about the need because I think the majority of people are completely unaware of how great it is, how many children are out there being neglected and abused. I’ll fully admit that I had no idea what the numbers looked like before I joined this world. The American Society for the Positive Care of Children says over 437,000 children are in foster care in the United States. 118,000 children are waiting to be adopted. And 61% of those children are removed from their home due to abusive neglect. Those numbers are staggering, and they continue to grow as the drug problem escalates in our country. The majority of these kids will age out without ever being adopted, which often leads them to difficult lives as adults. 1/4 are incarcerated within 2 years and only 1/2 graduate from high school. *
Is your brain spinning from all those numbers? Ok, then let’s talk about what happens to the brains of these kids who face abuse and neglect at such young ages. Harvard University did a study finding that children in the U.S. foster system experienced PTSD at a rate more than twice that of combat veterans. Trauma and stress at early ages will have a lasting effect on development. We’re talking about delays in social competence, dysfunctional coping behaviors, and significantly altered brain chemistry. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this can all lead to problems developing healthy relationships with anyone who is willing to take the child into their home. Kids who’ve experienced this trauma so early on in life need parents who are willing to rethink their parenting skills and find a way to meet their complex needs and disarm those fear-based behaviors. *
It breaks my heart just to think about a child making all his or her decisions out of fear.
But let’s be honest, not everyone can take a child into their home. Not everyone is meant to take in a child. We’re all called to different purposes in this life and we all need to play our separate parts. If reading this article makes your heart skip a beat and you know your family can give one of these children a true home, then go. Now. Don’t wait. More and more children are entering the foster system every day and we need more families willing to say yes and open their hearts.
But the need doesn’t stop there. We also need a VILLAGE. We need people who are willing to cook dinner or order pizza for the family who just welcomed a newborn into their home. We need people who can babysit biological kids so parents can take foster kids to court dates and visitation. Or people who can babysit all the kids so Mom and Dad can get a date night and claim back some of their sanity! This village needs people who can organize fundraisers and donation drives to ease some of the burden. It needs people who can’t take in a child but absolutely can open their wallets. We need money for all the organizations working tirelessly to help these families. We need financial help for the families themselves. Yes, they get money from the state, but it doesn’t come close to being enough. A 2015 study by the Department of Agriculture found the average US family spends $38 a day raising a child. In Florida, foster families receive approximately $13 a day. That’s a $25 difference. Per day. We need to fund that gap.
If there was more support from the community, then I’m willing to bet more people would be stepping up to care for these children. If we had more Villagers willing to cook, clean, babysit, pray for and encourage these overwhelmed and exhausted parents, then it wouldn’t sound so scary to take in a needy child.
It does no good to shout, “Cherish life!” and “Pray to end abortion!” if we’re not going to do anything for that life after the mother chooses to keep it. All of this abortion legislation that has us broken-hearted and plastering our pro-life opinions all over social media is actually a wake-up call, especially for the pro-life Christian. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)
If you aren’t called to feed or clothe these kids, at least help someone who is called to do it. Yes, we need to change America’s mentality about abortion. But we also need to open our eyes to the great needs of the child after they’re given the chance to live. We can’t abandon them the second they exit the womb. And maybe, just maybe, if we can create a village of support for mothers and babies after they choose life, then life will become the only thinkable option.
If you’re reading all of this and something is stirring in your heart, don’t ignore it. Do some research. Find out if there’s an organization in your community that’s helping foster families. Figure out what talents you have that can be used to serve them. Or if you feel led to, look for the next foster/adoption licensing class in your area. I’ve never met a single foster or adoptive parent who regretted their journey.
If you’re a church, start a foster and adoption ministry. Call on your congregation and God will provide someone to step up and lead it. When a mother chooses abortion, she’s abandoning that child in her womb. When the church doesn’t make foster and adoptive families a high priority in its ministry, it’s abandoning that child after the womb. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” -James 1.27 (NLT)
Instead of casting stones of judgement towards the mothers who choose abortion, maybe we should be looking closer at our own hearts. One foster mother shared this recently on her Facebook page:
“I ask myself how we the church can stand up and fight for the unborn, but be so unwilling to sacrifice to give these children the loving homes they deserve?
The answers I hear are:
“It would disrupt our perfect family.”
“We are just too busy with life.”
“It’s just not a desire I have.”
“It would be too hard.”
“I could not be a good parent to them.”
“It would disrupt our future plans.”
“My spouse is not on board”
“I’m afraid of how hard it might be”
…the list goes on. What I have realized is that all the excuses we might have to not choose these children are the reasons a birth mother who wanted to abort her children would give!”
We must act now. We must soften our hearts and give up our excuses. The future of all children, born and unborn, depends on it.
Looking for ways to help foster families in your area? Here are some ideas straight from a foster mom:
- Purchase school supplies or back-to-school haircuts
- Cook freezer meals
- Give a gift card to a restaurant to cover the whole family
- Get them a quarterly maid
- Buy movie tickets and popcorn for the whole family, fair tickets for the whole family, etc. Any family outing costs a ton of money when you have that many kids.
This post originally appeared at Medium.com, published with permission.