This past weekend we held our very first foster parent training in Colombia. ICBF is the child welfare division of the Colombian government which oversees foster families and adoption. They were so gracious to give us this opportunity to pilot a program to educate local Colombian foster families through a two-part training.
This opportunity arose after Beth Perez, our Latin America Program Director, started realizing children were coming home through adoption after being fostered- but the foster families had not received the same training that caregivers and adoptive families were being trained through. Our team approached ICBF and asked if there was any way we could share this training with foster families throughout Colombia. The protective division of ICBF was open and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to partner with them in this way.
Education & Training Topics for Indigenous Families
During the two day training, the Lifeline team got to teach on topics such as the importance of their role as foster parents, God’s design for family, caring for children who have experienced trauma/grief/loss, preparing children in care for adoption, the influence they have on the kids lives, as well as empowering and connecting with children in their care.
Beth said, “it was so fun to make the connection between the challenges in the foster and adoptive families in the USA face are the same as what these Colombian families face. They loved hearing about how the children transitioned for adoption and how they could better help the children do so while they are in their care preparing for the adoption process.”
The foster moms in this region were required to attend by ICBF but some dads chose to willingly attend as well. Many of these families entered the fostering process with so many unknowns facing them, and they are in the thick of the challenges of helping the children adjust and really see healthy family dynamics. They absorbed the education and were highly engaged during the training.
“It was funny because we had so many situations in which they wanted to ask their questions or share their experiences in the middle of the teaching, so we would just stop and talk through it with them. I loved how they were sharing their successes and failures with the group to help each other learn through their own experiences. These women are fierce and passionate. They want what is best for their children while in their care. They were asking us how the kids adjust in the USA when adopted and what they can do to better support the transition,” said Beth.
Understanding and Supporting a Growing Partnership
The foster parents helped our team better understand the gaps in the system and even asked to be a voice to the government here to improve the system for the children.
“During breaks and after the trainings, the parents would come up to us individually to ask basic counseling questions, and my heart ached for them because these are the SAME conversations we have with our adoptive families. We realized they just need equipping and support through this journey,” said Beth.
Beth’s overall prayer is that they would realize the worth of their roles and why God has them in the position of caring for these children.
“When we shared this with them, there were tears and applause from the families. They know their role is challenging but to hear that people pray for them, that they matter to us, and they have the ability to help the children adjust and transition just impacted them (and us) so deeply. It is a HARD job to know you have these kiddos for a temporary time and not have control of their futures, so we want them to feel confident in their roles as foster families and feel supported and appreciated by all of us,” said Beth.
Prayers and Plans for the Future in Colombia
Beth has been living in Colombia for over a year now and she feels that this is what the Lord has been bringing together for His glory, but she’s confident that this is only the beginning. These trainings are an unbelievable opportunity to share the gospel with foster families in Colombia. Our prayer is that these trainings impact the way they love children and ultimately leads the families and kids in their care to Christ. We desperately want to see the local church getting engaged, leading these trainings, and loving on children. The team had a meeting with local pastors and church leaders the last day of the trip, and they saw that the Lord is sharing His love for vulnerable children with these leaders.
We are excited to see God opening the doors to facilitate training in a few orphanages throughout the year. We also have opportunities to train more foster families in three other major regions throughout the country. Our hope is to better develop the training so that we can meet the needs of these families and evolve it to be more culturally adaptable for their circumstances. We want to see the local church, mission teams, and post- adoptive families get more involved in the trainings to better equip the foster families, and eventually, for it to be led by the church here in Colombia.
Here’s how you can partner with us in prayer:
- Pray that the Lord be present in all of our training and equipping. We need the Lord here in this. It’s all a bandaid on a wound and can become more humanitarian work if this isn’t all about Him from day 1. We don’t want to step forward without His going before us, being with us, and going behind us.
- Pray that we would link arms with the local church and work in unity for His glory as we create opportunities love and care for the fatherless in Colombia.
- Pray for the local church in Colombia to take the lead in orphan care opportunities.
- Pray for ICBF and all the work that they are responsible for in protecting the children and seeking what is in their best interest.
- Pray for the foster moms to be encouraged and feel equipped to implement what they have learned to best care for the children in their care.
- Pray that God uses this education to help foster families effectively care for the children before they transition back to their biological families or new adoptive families.
- Pray for the children in care to come to know their Father, who loves them fully and who never leaves or forsakes them.
This training weekend was all made possible because a family gave Lifeline a scholarship to educate and equip caregivers in Colombia. Families in the States have the ability to make a huge impact through their giving.