Some questions and answers about foster care

One family’s experience as foster parents

January 13, 2020

There are so many unknowns when you have kids. Whether you are biological parents, adopting, fostering, or even like me, babysitting someone else’s kids, you are regularly reminded that things are beyond your control. Kids get hurt; kids sin; you sin; things don’t go according to plan. Over and over, you’re confronted with the need for God’s sovereignty, grace, and control as you work with kids. 

This is especially evident in foster care, as the entire extent of fostering contains many questions. There are many concerns that can arise. Who is the child we are bringing into our home? What trauma have they experienced? What decisions will the court make? Will they be reunified with their biological family? How long will they be with us? How do we best help them with the time we have with them? 

The unknown is often scary, but many good things would be missed if we avoided anything that we were unsure of. As I’ve had the opportunity to watch some of my dearest friends parent, and now foster-parent, I sat down to ask them questions about being foster parents. I share our conversation with you for three purposes:

  1. That you would thank God for how he works through the foster system.
  2. That you would pray for all those involved in the foster care system.
  3. That what seems so unknown might become more familiar, and that the Church would include more foster parents in 10 years than it does now.

What led you to become foster parents? 

We’ve always been very interested in adoption. We initially pursued international and domestic adoption but experienced varying challenges. Around that time, we read an article that stated there were over 30,000 children in the foster care system in our area who needed homes. After seeking counsel and praying through the option to foster, we decided to step forward in faith despite our fears. 

What concerns did you have to work through before you signed up? 

We were worried about the “normal” things like the pain and sadness that would accompany loving and bonding with a child and then having that child be reunified with his birth family. But we were actually most concerned with how foster care would affect our two biological children. We were worried that they wouldn’t understand how fostering worked, and that they would be damaged by the instability of it all. We still worry at times about that as we’ve now had our foster son for close to two years. It has been hard for them as we talk about reunification, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Our kids, through this process, have learned to love and serve even when they gain nothing in return. We’ve had honest conversations with them about family, love, anger, loss, and much more.

What inefficiencies or ineffective policies have you observed in your experience with foster care?

Many areas of the foster care system are in need of reform. The current system doing its best to serve these children who desperately need protection and love, but at times it falls short. There are so many inefficiencies. As someone who loves efficiency, it’s been a continual reminder that our world is broken and desperately needs Jesus. Some of the inefficiencies are found in the court process. Many social workers are overworked and worn out. But, we have chosen to foster through the system, so we try not to complain about the problems or inefficiencies, and do our best to abide by the policies even though they may not seem best to us. 

What specific challenges have you faced throughout fostering?

After initially having our foster son placed with us, we had to help him work through his extreme fears of being abandoned. We have walked through being falsely accused of horrendous abuse by his family and potentially having the safety of our biological children endangered. We've ridden the rollercoaster of the promise that our foster child would be adopted by Christmas, and then a few weeks later being told that the county was trying to find a new foster family for him because his birth mother wanted him closer. Each week after our foster child’s visit with his mother, we have had to help him work through the range of extreme sadness, anger, and clinginess. It’s heartbreaking to see a child you deeply love be triggered by weekly visits with his mother. Now that he’s getting older, his clinginess has shifted more to anger. Our biological children are confused as to why his little personality is so different the days following his visits. 

Foster care is one means of loving our neighbors and of caring for the orphan.

What have friends and family done that was helpful or unhelpful?

Jesus has been so kind to provide an incredible community to surround and support us. They’ve showered us in prayer, provided dozens of meals, and volunteered countless hours of childcare for trainings and court days. They’ve provided a listening ear for hard news and hard court decisions. They’ve dropped off baby supplies and offered playdates for our older two so we could bond with our foster son when he arrived. Our church has provided counsel and support through various groups and conferences. Honestly, we’ve had very few unhelpful friends and family. We’ve had some well-meaning friends ask insensitive questions about the future, but for the most part, our family and friends have been incredibly gracious and sensitive. We are so thankful for the body of Christ. 

What have interactions with your foster child's family look like?

Our initial hope was to help and support our foster son’s birth mom in hopes of providing her the time and help she needed to break her addictions. Over time, however, it became apparent that she wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with us and made false accusations against us. We’ve been able to pursue relationships with our foster son’s grandmother and great-grandmother. And we are thankful for opportunities to redeem long court days by getting to sit and talk with them in the waiting room. 

What has been the emotional toll on you and your family?

Initially, we had been able to lovingly care for this precious baby boy and love him while knowing and expecting him to reunify. However, as the months and now years have passed, it’s been more difficult to imagine not having him be a part of our family. Our case took a bit shift this past summer, and it’s been sad to still love him while knowing that it is very likely he’ll be returned to his birth mother. I think the hardest part of our experience with foster care is not just having a child we have loved for years be reunified with his birth family, but having him go back to an unsafe and unstable home because a broken system has made a decision that we don’t agree with. However, almost everything we have experienced, we knew about going into the process and were warned about by other foster parents and our agency. 

What have you done to help your kids in the process? 

We’re hoping and praying that the stability and safety we’ve provided for our little guy has given him a strong foundation. We know he cannot grasp that the God of the universe deeply loves and cares for him, but we’re hoping that through our care and love for him we have given him a small taste of that love. We’re also hoping that the comfort and care we provide after his visits is a reminder that he’s safe and loved. We’re actively working with him to better understand his emotions and proper ways to respond to his “big feelings.” He’s caught up, for the most part, developmentally and physically. We have been working with him on his speech development so that when he is reunified, he is able to communicate if he needs help or is hurting. We are doing everything we can to prepare him, even at a young age, to be reunified. If he were older, that would mean more conversations and preparing him for loss in a way that helps him transition and doesn’t make it harder on him even if the loss hurts and is hard on all of us.

For our biological kids who are a bit older, it has meant many honest conversations to explain reunification, court decisions, etc. We also have made it a point to have a family day around each of the court dates so court days aren’t dreaded days. We know one of these days they will likely lose a sibling they love and our foster son will lose his big siblings whom he loves. These days away give the entire family time together and allow us to do something fun during a hard few days.

What things can foster parents do to help the foster kid who gets reunited or moved to another home?

Honestly, we’ve racked our brains to figure how we can give him tools and sources of help after he’s reunified. We’ve come to realize that because he’s so young, if he’s reunified, he’ll likely forget us. As heartbreaking as that is, we’re comforted by the fact that our heavenly Father loves our sweet foster son more than we ever could, and that he has crafted a perfect story for our foster son that best honors him. So, in the meantime we rest in the knowledge that for the last year and a half, he’s been kept safe, he’s been loved, he’s been invested in, and that investment will, we hope, bear fruit in the future. 

What has helped you as you have experienced sorrow in the fostering process?

We marvel at how people who don’t have the hope of the gospel walk through foster care. Our strength is rooted in the sovereignty of our good Father. We have seen how he’s used tragedy and hardship in our own lives to cause us to better understand him and to grow us. We’re praying that he uses this to cause us to trust him more. It has caused our prayer life to grow, and we’ve been forced to bank on the promises we’ve found in Scripture. 

What have you learned through foster care?

Foster care is a daily reminder in our fairly “unbroken” life that we live in a very broken world. The Lord has placed us in a lovely community with a wonderful home, dear friends, and an amazing church. I could see how without fostering we’d be tempted to place our hope in the comforts that surround us. We’re also thankful for the way that it’s connected us to hurting people and the opportunities it’s provided to share the gospel. And most of all, we’re thankful for the opportunity it’s given us to love a little boy and his family in a way that can only be explained by the power of the gospel. We were worried that fear and self protection would keep us from fully loving and bonding with our foster son. However, the Lord has been kind to show us so much grace and has given us a deep, deep love for our foster son. We’re so thankful for that. 


Foster care, like so much of the Christian life, is hard but good. Foster care is one means of loving our neighbors and of caring for the orphan. As my friend testified, families that participate in the process not only provide a loving home for a child, but they are changed by God in the process, too. It is an opportunity to trust in God’s promises while selflessly serving the vulnerable. Whether you have the opportunity to foster or not, you can join this important work by praying for the system, praying for the foster parents and kids you know, and by being good friends to foster parents in your church.

Jenn Kintner

Jenn Kintner is the associate dean of academic affairs at Gulf Theological Seminary. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24