by Debra Niesen
“To be truly pro-life, we must ensure that every child has an environment where he or she can thrive.” –Archbishop Naumann
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This is a time to celebrate those whose lives are touched by adoption, to pray with couples waiting to adopt and to support expectant mothers in difficult circumstances who are lovingly and courageously making adoption plans for their child.
This is also a time to raise awareness of the more than 500 children in Kansas foster care who are waiting to be adopted, and the many more who need a foster family to care for them until they can safely return home.
Each of these foster children is a precious gift from God with unique talents and dreams. They have been removed from their home through no fault of their own for a variety of reasons.
They come from all communities, backgrounds and socio- economic groups. Many have experienced trauma and are scared, confused and lonely. All deserve a loving and safe home.
The Kansas foster system, while working hard to protect vulnerable children, is overwhelmed. There are around 7,500 children in the system with only 2,000 foster families able to help.
As a result, children at times have to do multiple one-night stays with different families until a long-term foster family can be found.
Reunification with their biological family is always the goal of foster care, but sometimes this is not possible.
Teens who “age out” of the system without the loving support of a family face sobering statistics: 20% become homeless; 25% enter the justice system within two years; 71% of females are pregnant by age 21; and many fall into the trafficking industry.
The church is the solution! Because care of the orphan and works of mercy are part of the mission for all baptized Catholics, we have the grace needed to answer this call.
This past spring, the archdiocese launched a new foster care ministry with the mission of supporting children and the families who care for them.
We thank the many heroic Catholic foster and adoptive families who have already opened their hearts and homes to care for vulnerable children.
We know their journey is rewarding but also immensely challenging at times. Fifty percent of foster families quit within their first year often due to lack of support.
As Catholics, we are called to respond. What if every parish inspired two new foster families, five new respite families and multiple parish “support teams” that wrapped around these families, assisting with their meals, household chores, and material and spiritual needs?
Imagine the impact that could make in the lives of our children! Not every family is called to foster, but everyone and every parish can do something to help. Go online to: www.arch kcks.com/foster to learn more.
Archbishop Naumann also says, “The mission of the church is to make Christ’s love real and tangible in the world.” Answering this call through fostering and adoption is a way to actively live the “Gospel of Life.”