Let’s Make Good Homes!
Sometimes a name reveals more than you realize at first glance. “My father, Bill Foster, was a real foster child,” Serrin Foster explains. “He experienced both the best and the worst of foster care. Horrifically and brutally treated by some, he was later placed with a loving couple and stayed with them for the rest of his life. … The good couple who took him in for the rest of his life would find food under his pillow after he had fallen asleep because he was so terrified about where he would find his next meal.”
Serrin Foster is the president of Feminists for Life. She’s made it her mission to bring to bring a pro-life message to audiences that only know the left’s caricature of anti-abortion arguments.
As you can tell from her description of her late father, foster care is deeply personal for her.
And it should be deeply personal for all of us. That was the takeaway from a National Review Institute event I just hosted in Washington, D.C., about foster care. It brought in a variety of speakers from throughout the country who play different roles helping to solve the foster-care crisis in the United States.
“This can’t be tolerated,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, the incoming chair of the Catholic bishops’ pro-life office, said during the event. He said that taking in foster children is another way families can be “open to life” and made clear that foster-care and adoption must be pro-life priorities.
The most compelling testimonies about these issues come from the children who are living in foster care or from adults who once lived in it. These stories can be spread via social media, where they can serve as inspiration. Foster stressed the importance of getting such stories out in the world. Feminists for Life, on the website womendeservebetter.com, have resources on foster care worth sharing.
Because of some of the things that happened to him over the years, her father couldn’t handle baths or bodies of water. At another foster-care event, I listened to a mother talk about something similar involving her son whom she and her husband adopted. The opioid crisis has added an urgency to the crisis, and children are suffering so much trauma in addition to addiction.
When I ask Foster about priorities she says: “Children first, of course.” That means we must be adults about the debate and not let it fall into the same kind of ideological silos that every other issue tends to fall into once it hits the political arena. That means keeping our emotions in check in our rhetoric and considering agreeing to disagree on some fundamental, complex issues. I’ve heard more than one former foster child tell me how they were literally starving at some point in their lives — for food and for love. Providing these children nourishment must be a priority, in homes, in churches and elsewhere.
If one family in every church in America became a foster family, we would not have the crisis we have today. Children would have homes. This was one of the takeaways from our forum. That’s something for people of faith to take as an examination of conscience and an action item. That’s something for activists who find themselves arguing with people of faith about marriage and family life to consider as well. People who believe in the message of, say, the Beatitudes, are people who might just provide good homes for these children. Maybe we can have a truce on some of those issues while we get some children into loving homes.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at [email protected]