Lora Petersheim always will remember the baby that broke her heart and helped her overcome fear of becoming a foster parent. A nurse, she was taking care of two babies in a neonatal intensive care unit. One had an adopted home, and throughout the day family members visited, brought gifts, laughed and spoke happily about bringing the baby home. The other baby was in the custody of the state.
“There were no gifts, no phone calls, no signs of love for that baby,” said Lora. “When the infant was discharged that night to DFACS, I cried and cried. I felt just a little of the pain that God feels for His children, and it was almost unbearable. My fears vanished as they were replaced with the desire to love children who needed to be loved, no matter the cost.”
Lora and her husband, Craig, attended an orientation session with The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur to learn more about fostering. This was followed by a series of classes, background checks, paperwork and a home study. For Craig, this was when his fear began.
“Fostering a child was getting close to becoming a reality,” he said. “I was scared of the kind of children we would bring into our home, of their experiences and behaviors. I was afraid for our two-year-old son because he wouldn’t understand what was happening. I was afraid we would get attached, that we would get hurt. Was this going to be worth it?”
A devotional from a friend reassured him. It spoke of overcoming fear, saying that if we live our lives too safely, we will never see Christ’s full power in them. Craig was ready to put away his plan and live by Christ’s.
“Lora and Craig are great ambassadors for our foster care program,” said Tondra Stowers, foster care worker at the Children’s Home. “There is a misperception that you can’t foster until you’re older, until your own kids are grown. But they are showing others that it is not about your age, but a true calling and heart for this population.”
Fostering a child is hard – for Lora and Craig, there have been illnesses, hospital visits and loss of sleep.
“It takes special people to be foster parents,” said Stowers. “They must love a child like he or she is their own, even though the child does not belong to them.”
Now with their second foster child, Lora and Craig believe that fostering is the most rewarding thing they have ever done.
“We are doing our best to truly love each child that comes into our home, whether it is for one night or forever,” he said.
Could you be a foster parent?
In 2014, the Children’s Home has been forced to turn away more than 700 children in need of a home because we lacked foster parents and supplies. Help us help more children in need by:
Learning more about becoming a foster parent.
Inviting us to talk to a group about fostering (Sunday School class, Garden Club, Civic Group, etc).
Donating money or supplies such as diapers, new clothing or baby equipment.
Supporting local foster families in your community.
Praying for the needs of these children and families.
To get started, contact Denise Peacock at The United Methodist Children’s Home at 404-327-5864 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo by Melody Mann Facebook.com/melody.mann.12.)