This is the final piece in our monthly series on fostering and adoption; if you have followed the series this week, and God has stirred something in your heart for this arena, this article should highlight some opportunities in this that you can pursue.
This is not a straight-forward area, and the content that has been included has merely been to illuminate some key components of fostering and adoption and demonstrate the heart of God through His church. These opportunities are not just for those who are ready to consider fostering or adoption, there are a wide range of ways that people from all circumstances can serve in this area.
Fostering, in particular, is not necessarily a full-time commitment. Whilst full-time, long-term fostering is one path to take, you can also sign up to be a short-term foster carer for children who need temporary care – perhaps as issues at home are addressed – or a respite foster carer. Respite foster carers provide relief for full-time carers, so this could possibly involve having children for regular overnight stays. It should be clarified that the opportunities listed below are generally for the Northern Irish context, however vulnerable and marginalised children is a global issue and there are many ways to serve that need on an international basis which will not be included in this.
There are currently five agencies that can be approached if fostering/ adoption is a route that you would take. You can contact as many as you like before making a decision:
HSC Trusts: You can sign up for foster care/ adoption through the public trusts in Northern Ireland; there are five so it is depending on where you are based. The information line for this is: 0800 0720 137.
Four private agencies: there are four private agencies that also can be chosen from. These include; Barnardo’s (02890652288), Kindercare (02890020247), Action for Children (02890460500) and Foster Care Associates (0800 434 6000).
There are also agencies who exist to provide wider support.
These include The Fostering Network NI, a charity who exist solely to support foster carers, or those who are considering this route. You can contact Doris Dickison: 07918748415.
Adoption UK exist to support families who are considering, or are on the journey of adoption. You can contact Elizabeth Lyttle on ElizabethLyttle@adoptionuk.org.uk.
Home for Good: Home for Good are a Christian organisation, they came from Evangelical Alliance and Care for the Family, who seek to see the Church respond to the Biblical call to care for the vulnerable and see every child provided with a home, in safe and welcoming communities. They can speak to Christians who are considering fostering/ adoption, or who want to become involved more generally. For those who are considering fostering/ adoption, they can put you into contact with local Christians who have experience of this and currently have a growing number of Christian support groups in place which you could be linked into. Home for God also have a really inspiring and wide vision to see everyone play their part in helping the Church to be a more welcoming place for everyone involved around adoption and fostering. Small and simple actions by people who will never foster or adopt can have a profound impact on the lives of children and their families. For more information about becoming a Home for Good Church or how Home for Good might be able to help you or vice versa; contact Malini Colville: 07515419292.
It must be noted that there are opportunities to support children and young people who are vulnerable/ in the care system beyond that of fostering or adoption. One example of this is Extern mentoring, where you can mentor a Looked After young person. For more information you can call Lauren: 07483428576.
We would encourage you to prayerfully consider whether this is something that God is placing on your heart, and if so, how you can listen to what He’s saying and respond.