For eight years, Mary and I were foster parents of adjudicated teenage boys. Over that eight-year period we fostered 25 different youth. We loved those kids and longed to instill the love of our heavenly Father within them. No state program compared to godly, affirming and accepting foster parents who loved unconditionally. Daniel was with us for over two years, went to Bible College for four years and continued to be in relationship with us until one dreadful day. This is what I learned from loving Dan.
- His stepfather’s abuse was not fair and totally undeserved.
- His pain was real and by listening I validated his history.
- He longed for nonsexual affection from a father figure.
- He needed to be affirmed and called into his manhood by a man.
- He needed to know God’s endless, redemptive and perfect love for him.
- He needed to hear the truth of God’s word about sexual relationships.
- He needed to know he belonged to a family who accepted him.
- He needed to hear words of hope for change.
- He needed to know God’s forgiveness, as well as, mine.
- He needed protection from a father, even if that father was a stand-in.
Father’s can’t meet all of their children’s needs. After a failed marriage and many failed same-sex relationships, we received a call that Daniel ended his, all-to-young, 45-year-old life. I wish it could be different, but I am so grateful for what he taught me about life, pain and love without conditions. I know his struggle was real and I just hope he felt real love and acceptance from a temporary foster Dad.