At the conclusion of the meeting, I climbed the stairs from the lower level of our office and there she stood – all 36 inches of her. Sara is a beautiful little two-year-old girl with the most adorable curly blonde hair I have ever seen. What gripped me most, though, was the fear and uncertainty in her eyes, as if to inquire, “Will you take care of me?”
After looking up at me, she ran to her foster mother and embraced her leg. One of our staff members quietly made her way to me and whispered, “She has just been removed from her home because of abuse.”
My heart sank. How can this be? How could anyone do anything to harm this precious child?
As difficult as it is to believe, children are removed from abusive homes every day and placed in the safety of foster families until investigations can be conducted and plans implemented to assure the safety of the children.
There are currently two lead agencies in Lincoln and Omaha responsible for placing children through organizations like Christian Heritage. On December 19th one of these agencies reported having 270 children waiting for placement in foster care. These children are sitting in group homes, shelters, treatment and detention centers, and out-of-state facilities. Not only are these children waiting for a family, on December 1st, they had 175 children free for adoption.
At a celebration we hosted for children and their foster families over the holidays, a 12-year-old girl I will call Abby sat at our table. She had been abused, neglected and abandoned by her parents when she was small. She and her foster parents had arrived late. After they were seated and began to eat, she looked to her foster dad and said, “We forgot to pray.” This family of three bowed their heads and quietly thanked God for his provision.
For over 30 years, Christian Heritage has been caring for children like Abby and Sara, who need more than a family; they need to be loved and to learn that they have a loving Heavenly Father who will never abuse or abandon them. What an awesome privilege it is to care for children and to provide them with loving and compassionate families! This is the essence of what we do and why we exist.
Many of the organizations that have cared for children in Nebraska are closing. In December an organization in Omaha that has served children for over 60 years closed their doors. According to the director of the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board, a total of 22 group homes, treatment facilities and shelters have shut down since the beginning of Child Welfare Reform two years ago.
These are difficult days for children in the foster care system and for providers. The need for additional foster homes has never been greater. Many families are walking away, when children need them the most. Are you burdened for these children? Do you have room in your home to care for a child? Would you be willing to open your heart for just one of these 270 children?
Foster parent classes will begin in March. If you would like to learn more about Christian Heritage, please check us out online at www.CHNE.org, or call us at 402/421-KIDS (5437). Together we can make a difference in the lives of children.