Part of our Christian call is to care for the vulnerable. In this three-part series, Kendell Borkowski explores how to live out Scripture engagement through her call to adoption and foster care. Find out how you too can act on God’s Word through discerning and responding to your call and advocating for those in need.
When our son was 2 years old, we started thinking about the next steps for our family. Having successfully navigated our first adoption and feeling convicted by the call to care for orphans (James 1:27), continuing that path seemed the logical way forward. I went to Uganda with The Archibald Project to collaborate with other creatives, sharing a vision to see the orphan crisis eliminated. I was passionate about the cause, but in the secret places of my mind, I also hoped it would be the catalyst for another adoption story.
I can’t help but laugh when I think back now, how I was designing my own plotline. I didn’t know then that God would alter my hopes to apprehend my heart, or that God would invade my idealized imaginings for something even better. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (Proverbs 3:5-6). These verses encouraged me when I was deep in discord, confused about what I thought I knew, and helped me trust that God would align the details. All I had to do was seek him.
Beloved Child of God
I was wrecked on that trip to Uganda; the burdens I witnessed broke my heart. But, there was much beauty too. The work we documented was heavily focused on family preservation—supporting families with resources, skills, or medical care in hopes that the family can stay together and trauma or loss of custody can be prevented—and I realized I had put parameters on my desires, my call, that God was about to stretch. I absorbed, as if for the first time, how imperative it is that every child is loved and how urgent it is that families have advocates willing to pour into them and believe in them. In our son’s adoption process, I was intentional about comprehending the profound loss of the first family, but, now, I wanted to do what I could to prevent that loss whenever possible. My eyes were ready to see another layer of God’s purpose for my life. I was ready for foster care.
God wanted me. He chose me. It is through God’s perfect plan and Jesus’s unparalleled sacrifice, that I am a child of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). This powerful show of love should inform my own and saturate how I approach the stories of everyone I encounter. The more I ponder these truths, the more solid the ground of love I stand on becomes and the easier it is to see that every person is precious to God.
This understanding is imperative in foster care. The people I meet are the ones often viewed as “unlovable.” But, so am I. “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8). I am a sinner, and yet I was adopted by God, brought into God’s family. How glorious that I can do a sliver of the same here on earth.
Expanding My Vision…and Family
We have brought three children and their families into ours so far on our foster care journey.
Our first foster daughter came to us at 13 days old. Loving her is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I walked alongside her birth-mom, supervising their visits together. When I pulled up to the park where we met for the first time, I cried to Jesus, I reached out to my prayer-warrior community, I gasped for Scripture like air. In our moments together, God helped me to see this woman through his eyes. The pain of her past, the addictions of her present, and the fears of her future became something I held, too. Ultimately, she wasn’t healthy enough to parent. After 563 days as our foster daughter, with the support of her maternal grandparents, our daughter joined us forever. We had chosen to open our hearts to another family, and God gave us a daughter. I have never felt more humbled.
Our second foster daughter came to us just one brief month after her birth. She was small, beautiful. Her presence changed many things about our family dynamic and about what I thought I was capable of, now parenting three. Within six months in our home, I watched her mom fiercely complete everything required. We were from dissimilar backgrounds and had drastically different personalities, but we worked together well, ensuring the health and happiness of that sweet girl. The day our second foster daughter reunified with her mom was one of the hardest of my life. I had watched her learn to roll over, crawl, eat solid foods. I had watched my children love her as a sister. But, I was also the one to drive her away from our home for good and, through guttural sobs, watch the door close behind her.
In our third foster placement, we welcomed a nine-month-old son. The case pushed me in more ways than I knew were possible. Journeying with his biological dad, in complicated circumstances, was isolating, confusing, and exhausting. I questioned what I was doing and how well I was doing it more than once. But, the road was filled with hints of redemption. That boy with the huge brown eyes, the giggling affinity for swings, and the koala-like hugs, reunified with his dad after eight months in our home, and I was beautifully wrecked again. I can’t think of anything more worth my time and tears than loving them and learning how to seek God during the turmoil.
Trusting God’s Purpose
In foster care, I have certainly experienced suffering, but I have also seen glory like I couldn’t have imagined. These children and the people their narratives introduced are a gift. To allow the brokenness of this world to settle in my bones is as heavy as it is necessary, but I don’t have to be afraid (see Romans 8:15-17). God doesn’t call me to friendly, safe love while professing faith from a distance. God calls me to uncomfortable places and an in-the-trenches kind of love, love that exposes my vulnerabilities and brings me to the end of myself. God is calling me to himself, so I can really see and value his children.
My former foster daughter and son still spend days with us from time to time, and on a recent visit I took a picture of all four of the kids together, my unconventional crew. Because of God’s plan, we belong to each other. As I stared at the sweetness of life on the screen, I thought of all the people connected to each of them that I love as well: biological parents, grandparents, aunts, and half siblings. We are a family that God built. And I could have missed out on all of it if I hadn’t answered God’s call, if I hadn’t trusted God’s purpose for my life. In that picture I see God’s children, sharing in his blessings.
Responding to Your Call
- Can you identify any places in your call where you are trying to write your own plotline? Are there places you need to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” not relying on “what you think you know”? “Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- As you are growing in your call, talk to God about what it means to be his child. How does that affect your call and the people you encounter in it? Remember, God chose you and “this was his pleasure and purpose” (Ephesians 1:4-5).
- I encourage you to continue uncovering the layers of your call—through prayer and a committed time of Scripture reading every day. Trust the process, “For if we share Christ's suffering, we will also share his glory” (Romans 8:17).
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