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Foster dad says, “You Never Outgrow the Need For a Family” (+podcast)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

(Air1 Closer Look Joel Reagan/Marya Morgan) – “Christians, at their best, all throughout history, have been known for caring for vulnerable children,” says Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

"Back during the Roman Empire when Christians were a small and marginalized minority group, even then they earned a reputation for going outside the city walls when children were abandoned to bring them home and care for and raise them as their own.” In more modern times, CAFO unites more than 190 Christ-centered organizations nationwide that are specifically dedicated to serving orphans.  With annual campaigns like Orphan Sunday and the CAFO summit bringing 2,000 leaders together to talk about orphan care, “I would say over the last 10-20 years there has been a reawakening to that historic role.”

Despite marked progress in connecting American churches to kids in foster care, myths persist that hamper the work.  For one, the idea that foster children are somehow at least somewhat at fault for their own situation. Medefind is quick to refute. “These precious kids are in the foster system because those that were supposed to care for them were unable to.” Another misconception? That all foster children will automatically need a brand-new family. Not so. Reunification is the goal. “In most cases,” he explains, “our hope and our prayer is that biological parent or parents of this child will be able to get to a healthy place and receive that child back.”

Another mountain in orphan care is the very real struggle to find homes for older kids. Children older than 8-yrs are too often abandoned to grow up bouncing between group homes with no roots or reliable parental guidance and at 18 they have no home base from which to launch a successful adulthood.

“It is a heartbreaking story when you look at the statistics,” says Medefind. “By the time they hit their mid-20s, kids who have aged out of the foster system without being adopted, less than half are employed, of the young men 64% have been incarcerated around 70% of the young women are on public assistance.”

That’s why CAFO launched its Aging Out Initiative to educate organizations on helping an 18-year old who is forced to leave foster care.  “You never outgrow the need for a family,” he says. “You may no longer need someone to tie your shoes in the morning, but you do always need a place to go to for holidays, someone you can call for advice, someone with you who can figure out how to apply for junior college. These are things that most of us really take for granted.”

CAFO members recognize not everyone is called to take a child into their home, but Medefind insists everyone can do something. “Every one of us can play a role in making the church a place of ‘welcome’ for children the world has forgotten.” He recounts a time in his own life when he and his wife got an emergency call from the social worker to take a newborn baby boy. Within hours, people from his church began showing up at their home with “infant diapers and bags of clothing and this Diaper Genie that would not let any stink out of the diapers,” he laughs. The community provided most of the things the family needed, even running errands and doing the grocery shopping. “It helped us feel we were not alone in this journey.”

Medefind’s personal experience as a foster dad fuels his passionate plea for community to ‘wrap around’ foster or adoptive families. “If there’s a family in your church that has adopted or is fostering, just step up and say, “hey is there a way we can help?” even if they say ‘no we’re fine,’ figure something out and do it.”

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