Imagine being taken from your home by strangers and deposited into a house with strangers. Everything is scary and unfamiliar. You have no idea what is happening. The world as you know it—even if it had been chaotic or harmful in some way—has been turned upside down.
For 606,031 children in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2021, this was their reality, as this is the number of children who passed through the foster-care system in that year. Many returned home, yet 391,098 remained in foster care.
November 18—National Adoption Day—is a day to focus on the needs of these children and on the immense love and hope that foster-care families offer them. It is a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the children who can never go home and who so desperately need permanent families. Since the day’s inception in 1999, over 75,000 children have found permanent homes and have left foster care.
Foster parents are incredibly special people who open their hearts and homes to children in need. They truly exemplify the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
An author for Our Sunday Visitor recently wrote of these virtues, saying, “Faith calls us to open our hearts and minds to all people” and that “ideally, faith in God leads to hope.” She explained that we must then give that hope away to others—in the form of love. She stated, “We need to step out of our comfort zone if we want to give a hope that can change the world.”
For two incredibly special foster moms, offering that hope that can change the world comes in taking in children and giving them the love and stability they so desperately need. These women and their families have dedicated their lives to helping children heal, to teaching them, and to showing them love when they feel there is no one left to love them.
Kathleen Paydo is a foster mom and author of a book about the journey she and her husband began over 20 years ago. Fostering Love: A Glimpse into Foster Care tells the story of her family’s journey and of why they chose to foster children. It explains the value of caring for needy children and relates stories that will both warm your heart and break it.
Kathleen states, “My husband, Ron, and I help children to process through their loss and trauma, work towards the development of their God-given talents, and find positive momentum in life. We know that families are the foundation of society; when we care for and protect children, we ensure that future generations thrive as well.”
Bonnie Walker is another foster mom who understands how crucial it is to care for children. Over the past 35 years, she and her husband have adopted and raised 24 children from the foster-care system. Bonnie has written two books about her experiences and is hoping to create a community called Refuge Ranch, which will hold 12 homes that foster and adoptive parents can lease. Refuge Ranch will include equine therapy and counselors and will offer respite for families who are hurting and in need of healing.
We know that families are under attack in our society, and the emotional, psychological, and even physical impact on children is devastating. Fatherlessness, divorce, drug addiction, neglect, mental health issues, and abuse are just some of what today’s children face. They are heavy burdens for young children to carry, and foster parents understand this.
These generous parents do the best they can in the sometimes short period that the children are in their homes. And when the children cannot return home, they need loving and understanding families who will permanently welcome them and help them heal.
Therefore, as we celebrate National Adoption Day and think about the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care, let us prayerfully ask God what He would like us to do for them. Do you feel called to adopt? Do you feel called to foster a child? If not, maybe you feel called to help a family who fosters—either by giving your time, resources, or donations of clothing or toys to make their lives easier.
As pro-life people, our responsibility to those in need extends across all ages and abilities. Everyone can do something to make the lives of children brighter and to help them feel valued and wanted. This is the epitome of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity that we must all practice if we are to build a culture of life here on earth.
In 1 Corinthians, we read, “If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Acting upon this love is one of the greatest things we can do for others—children especially. Acting upon this love will indeed change the world.
This article first appeared in Catholic 365 at catholic365.com/article/32423/national-adoption-day-reminds-us-to-protect-children-in-foster-care.html.