By Maridel Sandberg
Erik* is 16 years old. He is tall, athletic and very handsome. His smile lights up a room. He is polite and acts just like all the other teenage boys who have spent time in my home – they are always hungry and will eat pretty much whatever you give them.
I just found out that Erik is a foster child.
He has been in and out of over 20 foster homes. He was about to be adopted, and in his pain, made a poor choice and was removed from that home.
Now he is floundering, missing his buddies, and trying to find his way at a group home for “troubled kids.” He faces another new school in a different community, another chance to make new friends, another basketball tryout for a coach who has never seen him play. And even if he does make the team, who will stand in the crowd to cheer him on?
Who will help him get his first job? Who will teach him about money?
School is hard for him. He has never been in the same school long enough for him to get the kind of help he needs and deserves. Who will advocate for him?
Who will make sure he gets his senior pictures taken for the yearbook next year?
What happens at parent teacher conferences?
These thoughts keep me awake at night.
Erik has a host of “issues”- a story that would scare most folks away from getting too close.
He regularly speaks out on a teen panel telling people like you and me that all he wants is to have a family. You never outgrow a need for a family. There are graduations, weddings, illness, children….a whole lifetime of memories meant to be shared.
The Bible says that “God puts the lonely in families”.
This is his plan. He created the family unit to be a reflection of Him.
Erik is one of over 100,000 kids in the USA waiting to be adopted out of the Foster Care system. These kids need parents who will love them – NO MATTER WHAT.
I’m seeing more and more young people taking God at his word and invading their culture with extravagant acts of mercy coupled with radical truth and love in Jesus name—individuals like Alex and Brett Harris, who are rebelling against the low expectations of their culture by choosing to “do hard things” for the glory of God.
Those of us a few years older could do well to listen and learn from these young folks. God never stops asking us to “do the hard thing”. As a matter of fact, God asks us to do impossible things! Gospel living will always cost us our lives, but oh the glory of the return on our investments.
Erik still needs a mom and dad. This will be a hard thing. Don’t miss it.
*Erik’s name has been changed.
Maridel Sandberg is president of The MICAH Fund and mother of eight (five of which came to her through the miracle of adoption).