Do you remember how you first became aware of the foster care community? Maybe someone close to you started fostering? Maybe your spouse invited you to pray about pursuing this? Or perhaps a certain statistic impacted your heart?
Ryan MacDonald attributes becoming aware of the needs within the foster care community through his wife’s passion for the topic and a class he took in school about how followers of Jesus can engage society. Ryan describes it as his wife pulling on one arm and the Lord pulling on the other. (Maybe you can relate?) He is now involved in the foster care community at a variety of levels—at work, through the church he pastors, and within his own family.
Ryan is a follower of Jesus, husband, an adoptive, foster, and biological dad, pastor, and the Regional Director of Foster the City over Los Angeles and Orange County in California. He is a self-proclaimed coffee snob but believes there is a time and place for diner coffee. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife, all things theology, basketball, and playing with his kids.
In this episode, Ryan shares openly about his experience as a foster parent, the importance of celebrating reunification, the reality that foster parenting is a skill you get better at over time, and so much more. This was one of my favorite conversations I’ve had on the podcast!
(Don’t forget that through the month of August, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Double your impact today.)
TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY’S CONVERSATION:
1. God is faithful to open our eyes to the need.
For Ryan, God pulled him into the story of foster care by opening his eye to the need that existed. He heard about how children will stop crying out for help when their needs are not getting met at a young age. God is faithful to open our eyes to the vast need that exists, and continue to remind us about why this work matters deeply.
“He told me, ‘When I’m in the world of these fantasy video games, no one can hurt me.’”
2. The “fatherless” can make us fathers.
The Bible talks about how God is a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). Sometimes the role of foster parent can be a unique position where we experience something similar. It is such an honor to step into that role and have an impact on children’s lives that we may never know the full extent of.
“I was only able to care for him literally for one week, but he was such a gift to me because he introduced me to fatherhood. I hope I get to meet him again one day.”
3. Celebrate when families are restored.
Reunification is the goal of foster care. When reunification can happen safely, we should celebrate it! Ryan shared an incredible story where they had a combined adoption and reunification party where they were able to celebrate the hard work of their foster son’s mom. A biological parent’s efforts often go unrecognized and unnoticed. Just as we celebrate when a child finds a forever home, it is important to celebrate when families are restored.
“We wife started asking the question, “Who is going to celebrate all the hard work that the mother of our foster son has put in to get her son back?”
4. Practice Sabbath between placements.
There is a great need for “career” foster families, but this can’t be done without rest. Foster parents need to practice a Sabbath and find rest to continue the work. Ryan and his family practice a weekly Sabbath as well as a Sabbath between each placement to fend off burnout. If you have a desire to be a career foster parent, it is important to prioritize filling your cup and finding rest consistently.
“We need career foster families because the burnout rate is so high.”
Meet Our Guest
Ryan MacDonald is an adoptive, foster, and biological dad. He works as a pastor and the Regional Director of Foster the City over Los Angeles and Orange County in California. He loves spending time with his wife, Stacie, playing with his kids, and all things theology, basketball, and good coffee.
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