Religion While in Foster Care

Thoughts on foster parents incorporating religion into the kids lives. At what age should they be given the choice to attend religious service with the foster parents ? Asking because (not the blog writer but from the original post) – I have an acquaintance fostering who is heavily involved in their congregation and really wants to have the kids in their care also be involved at least to the extent of attending service on Sunday’s.

One response – If their families of origin are not religious, no. It’s wrong to impose religion on that child without their birth family’s consent. Sunday makes the perfect time for visitation with their family.

Another – it really depends on the situation. Both my husband and I are church goers. Our younger kids come with us, but part of that is because that is also their family’s preference. We made sure to talk to their family before we brought them with us. Our older kids do not have to come. We had one who suffered religious abuse and chose not to come. We try to be very respectful of their beliefs. The only thing we have refused is when they ask to be baptized because they want to be dipped in water but they don’t actually believe in God or go to church. We did say at that point baptism would not be appropriate. You have to work with a child and family. We do not hide our religion but we do not require participation. If we had younger kids who absolutely could not attend services – my husband and I would alternate.

Then, this advice – your friend needs to ask her caseworker about this because there actually might be legal guidelines around it. If the child is 0-9, then their parents should choose religious activity (or none at all) and 10-18 should make the choice for themselves (without coercion, which is easier said than done.)

In response –  if family of origin chooses something different/nothing at all, is there a respite or option so that the foster family can continue to worship? I know the point is that it’s about the kids and not the family, but I know that some individuals find strength from being able to worship. It might be worth considering that this could be a learning opportunity for foster parents, if their religion or denomination differs. Personally, I enjoy seeing how each service was a bit different.

(blogger’s note – as a child we were allowed, even encouraged to experience a variety of religions – therefore, when I need to go to a church (rarely) I am always comfortable there.)

Some options:

-If a 2 parent household, parents go to services at different times or switch off weeks so one is home with the child;

-Hire a babysitter during worship activities;

-Express to the caseworker that they only want to be placed with children / families who are open to their church attendance;

-If the church has a nursery that doesn’t teach about religion but just provides childcare (maybe the option for the 0-2 crowd?) that may be an option to ask caseworker. Note – I’m not sure if that type of childcare is allowed for foster children as I never fostered a child under 8 and I do not attend a church.

Another person writes – A child should be given a choice and not be made or coerced in participating in religious activities they are not comfortable with. Furthermore, if the child’s family religious beliefs differ from that of the foster parents, it is the foster parents responsibility to facilitate attendance for the child to the church of their choice and assist in helping the child follow various practices of their faith (such as no pork, kosher dishes – these are just examples). If a child says they don’t want to attend the foster family’s church, they should not be made to attend and other arrangements will need to be made for child care, so that they don’t have to go.

From a former foster care youth – I was made to attend church and sermons, and abide by religious rules: it’s abuse of their power plain and simple. That’s not the foster parents place and it should be clear that it’s not, but then, again proselytizing is a hell of a drug.

One with experiences writes – So our oldest was placed with us at age 16. She wasn’t allowed to have any alone time (per Child and Family Services – CFS) for the first few months after she was placed with us. At the time, my husband was a youth pastor and I was heavily involved in youth group. Our daughter didn’t have a choice of whether to attend, but always had the choice of whether to participate. If we were both at the church building, then she was as well, but was allowed to hang out in one of the back youth rooms on her own during service/youth group if she wanted, or she could come be in service/youth group with us. As soon as CFS said she was allowed to have time at home alone, she was given the option of being there. She opted out of Sundays but kept up with youth group for a while, until she stopped attending that as well. We never pushed, though had lots of conversations at home about where we were spiritually, just to make sure we understood our daughter. Our younger foster son (age 3) has participated in various fun things, but we’ve since left the church we were at and don’t have any real intention of finding another one any time soon.

That experience shared – you should be honoring the faith of your child’s origin family, always. If you are a Christian and have a Muslim child placed with you, you should be giving them everything they need to practice. If the foster child wasn’t practicing anything, any and all religious activities should be cleared with the family of origin beforehand.

ALSO: if your pastor or religious leader is not supportive of your foster child practicing their own religion – or no religion – and pressures you go involve the foster child despite what the child/family wishes, find a new place to worship that is supportive of you supporting the biological family.

Another writes simply – You should continue whatever their family has established. Otherwise, its not your place to convert them. If that means you give up your church going, then that’s what you do.

From the wisdom of experience – As a parent who indoctrinated my children into Christianity gently and thoroughly from a young age (they are now teens) I recommend *not* doing it, even to your biological kids – unless it’s a matter of the child’s heritage. Consider this – 1) people should be allowed to choose their own belief system, 2) children are people, 3) all children are vulnerable to indoctrination, and 4) these are not your children.

In one foster care case, she notes – We had one placement that the mom attended church with us as well most Sundays.

Endthepatriarchy’s Blog Comment

At the end of this comment, the person wrote – “I am truly astonished you have read this entire comment. You must REALLY care. Thank you for reading.” I do – REALLY CARE.

This appeared in response to the blog titled Adoption Is A Selfish Act, which I posted back on Nov 25, 2020.  I write daily so that is going pretty far back.  I am surprised to see that blog had 23 views because I am lucky to get a couple of views on any single day.  I did go back and read it again.

And I did read all of your long comment and found it sincere and thoughtful. 

Your comment went into my spam folder because of your using MY Gazing In The Mirror WordPress website address. This troubled me right away.  How you could even do that is beyond me but obviously it is possible.  BTW that blog has nothing to do with this one except they have the same author.  I attempted to email you to clarify this but it bounced.  It appears to be related to Greenbrier Schools in Greenbrier, Arkansas. My paternal grandfather’s family is deeply rooted in Arkansas.

I was inclined to approve your comment anyway but have decided, to instead address your comments in this new blog, and feel that you may see this one too.  I always try to not only be honest but respectful and considerate of anyone who comments. So that you have hidden yourself makes me sad. Maybe you do not have confidence in yourself enough to present yourself to me honestly.

I will make a few responses but because of all of the above will not show your entire comment.

Certain references to saviorism, which often does drive adoptions – especially on the Evangelical Christian side of religion, seem to have troubled you. I can understand that you feel an emotional objection to that as you state that you are a Christian.

As to overpopulation, at one time I was more worried about that but it is expected to peak at 8 billion in 2040 and then decline. Overpopulation article on Vox.

Regarding “Open Adoption”, unfortunately a lot of good intentions going into such an agreement fall apart – either sooner or later. Most do not succeed in living up to the promises.

The identity issue you dismiss is real and I don’t think it is brought on by being treated differently due to adoption (except in cases of transracial adoption where the difference in race between the adoptive parents and the adoptee stands out). Fact is, babies are born with a name given to them by the conceiving parents and in adoption, most adoptive parents change the child’s name to something different that they like better. My parents (both adoptees) used to tease one another with their birth names – once they had been able to even learn those. An adoptee lives under an “assumed” name much like a criminal on the run might.

What is interesting is that you seem so passionate about these issues – when you admit that you are not adopted and that you don’t even have children yourself nor do you want any. If you could be open with me about who you are, I’d be happy to discuss whatever in more detail with you. As it is, I have written about almost everything to do with adoption or foster care so much – that I’ve probably all said it all before and am always in danger of repeating myself. I wish you well-being and happiness.

Complicated

I’ve been following threads this morning that touch on a topic that I have struggled with before.  It is complicated.  I am pro-Life in a pro-Choice way.  I believe it is a woman’s right to choose and I am deeply concerned about efforts to overturn Roe v Wade.  I just read yesterday that an amicus curie brief was released in which 205 Republican lawmakers, including 39 senators, have asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the 1973 protection of the right to an abortion “should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”

Personally, I once resisted the suggestion to have an abortion.  My husband was a heroin addict and had developed hepatitis.  We had a nephew with severe birth defects.  My husband was concerned that our baby would also have negative impacts.  I don’t know why but I just knew she was perfect and defended her life.  She is perfect.

Yet, then I became pregnant under worrisome conditions.  I was taking exotic drugs of a psychedelic nature frequently.  My partner was not the kind of man who was going to be a supportive father.  I was not in a financial position to raise a child on my own.  I had already voluntarily surrendered my daughter to her paternal grandmother while I tried to get on my feet financially.  Shades of my maternal grandmother and how she lost my mom to adoption.

I had an abortion because it was safe and legal.  It was not an easy decision to live with, I will admit that.  It haunted me a bit.  I remember a message coming into my awareness that my son would come back when the timing was better.  It would happen 25 years later.  A son was born into a stable marriage with good circumstances.  Interestingly, my daughter had a similar experience with a still birth and when she became pregnant again, had the same kind of knowing that this was the same son’s soul that was lost before.

I have some concern about a missionary zeal that takes babies from vulnerable young women in order to indoctrinate them into evangelical Christian orthodoxy.  Yet, I also recognize that homelessness and drug use and a lack of financial and familial supports are a serious issue.  I have concerns that Roe v Wade will be overturned and young women will return to back alley abortions in their desperation.

I don’t really have answers to any of this.  Just concerns that are on my mind this morning.  Personally, I believe we live these lives to learn and develop at the soul level and that there are no mistakes, no death and an eternity in which to expand our awareness.

Harmed By Religion

I grew up Episcopalian.  I always thought of that church as do what you want Catholics.  We were similar but with more freedom to choose.

My mom conceived me out of wedlock and she once admitted to me that she believed she had sinned and that baptizing me in the Episcopal Church (which was against the wishes of my dad’s Church of Christ adoptive parents because they baptize much later in life) was a way of securing my bastardized soul.

It is known generally that the Catholic Church has done a lot of bad things in its existence.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame is about torturing a young woman.  Then there is the burning of Joan of Arc and the Spanish Inquisition.  I grew up in El Paso Texas, a heavily Catholic region of the United States and so, I have some familiarity with that religion.  As a school girl we always had fish on the menu at school on Fridays because of the church.

An early adoption story is the tale of Moses.  His mother Jochebed put him in a basket to spare him from being killed along with all the other Israelite baby boys.  The Pharaoh’s daughter finds Moses and adopts him as her own, sparing him the fate suffered by other Hebrew boys.

For old-time Catholics, the laws of the Church took precedence over the laws of any secular government.  Catholic teaching dictated that the manner in which I was conceived made me illegitimate, a bona fide bastard.  Fortunately, my parents married before I was born.

Some children, like my dad, became legitimized when they were adopted by a married couple.  At that time, in the 1930s and 40s, his birth certificate (and later his baptismal certificate) was altered to make him appear “as though” he had been born to his adoptive parents.  The Salvation Army played a role in his becoming an adoptee.

I believe that my mom’s maternal grandfather and her paternal grandmother both played some role in her becoming an adoptee by not being willing to be supportive of my mom after her birth nor my grandparents’ marriage.  I can’t know that for certain.  I just feel it in my soul.

Throughout it’s history, the church has refused divorce, my dad’s adoptive parents could not be elders in the Church of Christ because of their divorces from spouses before they found one another.  And I do believe churches in general continue to look down upon women who do what comes natural and have sex outside of marriage.

Validating a strong and moral family life has always been at the heart of most church teachings.  I won’t argue that such a family is not a blessing.  My two sons have grown up within such circumstances and thrive.  I also have friends with children my children’s age who chose to be single parents.  Their children thrive as well.

What seems to matter the most is that the child was truly wanted.  When a child is born “accidentally”, meaning unintended, it is a hurdle to overcome but not impossible to.  Love matters more than any other factor.