Dr. John DeGarmo
New Hope Publishers (2016)
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (07/17)
Full disclosure. My wife and I are not yet foster parents, though we are considering it. If you have a heart, “Faith & Foster Care” by Dr. John DeGarmo will make your heart ache for the children and families torn apart due to bad choices (like drug addiction) and bad circumstances (like parents dying in a car accident). One of the driving themes of Dr. DeGarmo’s book is that life is unfair, but that’s just how it is. It is up to us, then, those that are more fortunate and those that are called to make an impact on not just the lives of children like those he describes in this book, but their birth parents as well, by showing them what God’s love truly looks like.
If you, like me, are unfamiliar with the foster care system or what many foster children endure, you’ll appreciate that DeGarmo highlights the most important aspects of fostering:
• being called to be a foster parent
• showing real examples of what a life of faith looks like in a foster home
• defending “the least of these”
• praying for your foster children and their birth parents
• maintaining a strong marriage even at the worst of times
• handling your foster children leaving
• adopting foster children full time
• and helping foster families through the Church.
The author ends the book with examples of former foster children impacted by faith in Jesus and a list of resources for foster parents.
DeGarmo does not hide any of the more emotional aspects of being a foster parent. In fact, he opens up about how difficult his family’s foster journey has been. He describes how many times they wanted to quit being foster parents because the emotional strain of children (children that you have come to love like one of your own!) leaving their home is unbearable, only to open their home and hearts again when asked.
That said, if you have ever wondered about becoming a foster parent, this book will act as a primer to understand more clearly what happens in the lives of foster children. While DeGarmo shows us the great pain and abuse many children endure, he also shows us that we can help ease the pain for some of these children by providing them a loving, stable home with God at its center (even for a short time). In fact, one former foster child shares a story of how a foster parent (whom she can’t remember) shared Jesus with her, allowing her to survive her tumultuous teen years.
DeGarmo reminds us that with God, we can make a positive difference in these children’s lives. I would ask that, as you read this book, keep the story of the starfish fresh in your mind, asking yourselves the same question:
One day, a boy and his father were walking along the ocean after a great storm had pushed millions of starfish onto the beach. As they walked along, the boy would throw starfish back into the ocean. Finally, his father asked him, “Why are you doing that? You can’t save them all.” The boy responded by picking up another starfish and tossing it back into the ocean. “I made a difference to that one, didn’t I?”
If you are interested at all in learning about the possibilities of foster care, I strongly recommend “Faith & Foster Care” by Dr. John DeGarmo.