Children for Sale
By DANNY MINTON
The picture below appeared in post-war 1948 newspapers across the country. Although life resumed and the economy began its upswing, there were still places where despair and poverty thrived. Seated on the steps are Lana (6), Rae (5), Milton (4), and Sue Ellen (2). Their mother was expecting another child, David. The right circumstances have faded with the passing years. Some believe it was poverty and the inability to care for their children. At least one of the children believed their mother was just wanting money. A couple bought Rae for $2 and took Milton because he was distraught at Rae’s leaving. The remainder of their childhood faced a life of forced labor on the couple’s farm. All four children and their unborn brother would eventually go to other families. The children eventually found better lives despite their childhood struggles.
Children separated from their biological families continues to break up homes daily. Each year an average of 250,000 children enter foster care in the United States, and in any given year, there are an average of 400,000 plus children in the foster care system. They enter the “system” for various reasons, from losing their parents and families unable to care for them to abuse and neglect. Many find themselves placed in group homes, while others become lucky enough to be adopted into loving families. Thousands, however, find themselves in the homes of people who decide that they want to help care for unfortunate children without a home. These families become foster families for children who need someone to care for them. Some will eventually return to their biological family, while others will spend the remainder of their childhood in foster homes.
Some unsung heroes are the “foster mothers,” who spend the most time with the children who come into their homes. A child who enters the “system” enters with baggage, and the older the child, the more issues they carry. Hunger, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, illness, and abandonment by family weigh heavily. Foster families, especially foster mothers, deal with the deep emotional needs of those they have promised care. The task can be overwhelming and sometimes so burdensome that the child never overcomes their past. Those families who decide to foster these unfortunate children often show the only love many of these children have ever known.
Anna Rose’s “Room for One More” was published the year following the photo. In the book (later a movie) written as a memorial for her late husband, she relates how she and her husband, along with their three children, fostered three other children; a child of divorce, another a victim of starvation, and a third child with polio. Each presented unique problems; however, the Rose family decided to keep each of the children. Their being in a loving and caring family environment changed their lives.
Jesus loved children. Matthew 19 records one of the warmest moments. “Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-15 (NASB) Earlier in Matthew 18, His words related children to the kingdom of Heaven. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6 (NASB)
Foster mothers and families fulfill the will of the savior when they unselfishly take in the children that God so loves. The influence that foster families have on these children changes lives. Whatever comes their way in adulthood, they will at least be able to look back and know that someone cared enough to disrupt their own lives for them. I have seen firsthand how loving foster families change the lives of children. Thousands of children live better lives because of the unsung heroes who give their love to unrelated children because of their hearts of compassion.
Besides fostering children, there are other organizations involved in helping children. They exist because volunteers give time to be a part of children’s lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters offer adult companionship for youth who need positive role models in their lives. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) use volunteers to walk beside children in the “System.” They make sure that the children’s needs and care are adequately provided. The influence of foster care and community volunteers is rewarded, not as “Children for Sale,” but by seeing a child’s life grow because of unselfish love.
Danny Minton is a former Elder and minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Thank you for this, Danny. Any individual or organization that steps in to aid children deserves commendation; they are doing God’s work.
Your article is very timely. Taylor County has many more children than we have local families to foster them. I deeply admire those who foster and volunteer as CASAs. Those jobs require a lot of devotion and self-sacrifice.
Foster families demonstrate tremendous sacrifice and are due much gratitude from society. Their reward will be great due to their current lifestyle adjustments.