By Jennifer Carr Allmon
Executive Director, Texas Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops
Even after news reports of children sleeping on office floors, or worse, their tragic deaths, Texas’ foster crisis continues. We need more foster parents ready to serve God’s children who are caught in the state’s beleaguered child welfare system. It would be so simple if Christians heard the Scripture’s call to “let the children come unto me” and opened their homes to the thousands of children needing safe families. But fear and circumstance hinder many of us from answering this call.
During Advent, we wait for our Savior, while these precious children wait for their saviors every day of the year. The Scripture we read in Advent gives us a clear example to follow when we see a child in need of a parent and shows us what to do when we are paralyzed and can’t respond.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he intended to divorce her quietly and leave the child fatherless. Despite being a righteous man, taking on the care of a child that was not “his” was more than he could bear. The angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream telling him, “Do not be afraid.” Through Joseph’s courage, he became our Lord’s foster father; he became the protector of Jesus and Mary. Later, another angel tells Joseph, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Egypt.” Through obedience to God, Joseph shielded our Lord and our Blessed Mother from Herod’s wickedness.
As the foster children of Texas wait, we must have the courage to heed this same message: “Do not be afraid.” Yes, the needs of these children are many, and you may not feel adequate. Let’s be honest, you probably aren’t. But your Church and your community has resources to help you. Like the magi who brought gifts to the Holy Family, ministries and non-profits stand ready to assist you in providing for the needs of these children. While we may not experience angelic dreams calling us to action, foster children in Texas need us to be attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit telling us to rise up and take care of these beloved children. Will you consider the call?
Jennifer Carr Allmon is executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB), the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas which represents 15 dioceses and 19 active bishops. Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice, accredit the state's Catholic schools, and maintain archives that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.
Follow Joseph’s example to become a foster parent
To find a local foster care provider near you, visit Texas Alliance of Children & Family Services at www.tacfs.org. Or, follow the Magi’s example and donate to the Rainbow Room (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/Rainbow_Rooms/), a resource center for children in foster care.