The Future Relics of Foster Care

Earlier this week, I found a foreign object on my front porch. It was a strange book with a picture of a municipal building on the front cover.  It was clear from the moment I opened it that this was not going to be great reading. However, it was extraordinarily organized.  Every single line was alphabetized. And on the back cover, right there in full color with big print, was a very nice smiling man offering to help me if I ever get in a car accident.  It even said I could call him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I wonder when he sleeps?

Anyway, after further research I determined that this strange object is something you earthlings used to call a “phone book”.  Apparently, once upon a time, you had to use actual numbers in order to call people.  I asked Siri about this and even she had to refer me to Wikipedia.

I am guessing that some of you may have also recently received one of these odd books and so, as a service to you, I did a bit of quick research and found dozens of things you can do with a “phone book.”  Here are a few of my favorites:

-Weed barrier for flowerbeds

-Cage liner for birds or rabbits

-Target practice

-Origami practice

-Paper maché

-Christmas decoration wrapping


-And finally, you can fold the pages into FREE envelopes (how the postman will know which address to deliver to I’m not quite sure)

This all got me thinking about the idea of obsolescence.  What happens when something very integral to our reality is no longer needed (other than for origami practice, that is)?  I began to think about the future and what will happen one day when the vast majority of churches are actively caring for kids and families impacted by foster care.

What will happen when we as the church are working humbly with others to provide “more than enough” for kids in foster care?  It’s important to note that we are not talking about the foster care system itself becoming obsolete.  The sad reality is that there will always be a need this side of eternity to keep kids safe. The government uniquely has the authority to do that.  However, what we are talking about is getting to a day when certain aspects of our modern foster care experience become obsolete.

For example, I LOVE heart galleries and all they do to help kids get families.  I will love it even more when heart galleries are no longer necessary.  Imagine that a social worker could have complete confidence when a child comes into care that, with only a phone call or two, a great placement could be found.  Imagine an adoption worker knowing that when termination of parental rights is sadly necessary, there will be several great options for a permanent family for a child.

This reality is not so far fetched.  This exists right now in the private adoption world for healthy newborn infants.  No heart galleries are necessary and workers at these agencies know there are good families waiting.  I look forward to the day when this will also be true for our kids in foster care.  I believe that day can and will come.  Foster care will still be necessary to keep kids safe but many of its components will become relics – obsolete structures and programs fit for the bottom of the birdcage.

Here are a few questions for you and your team to consider:

  1. What components of the foster care experience could be made obsolete in your county in the next 3 years? 5 years?
  2. What are 3-5 things that would have to happen in and through the churches where you live for that to become true?
  3. What is one thing you can do this month to take the first step towards that reality?