On the 19th September Simon and Gwen attended the Home for Good conference in Milton Keynes. Here are some of Gwen’s reflections on the day.
The day was opened by Rob Parsons from Care for the Family, one of the founding organisations behind the Home for Good Charity. The phrase that stuck with me was the phrase ‘my mission is to make music out of what remains’. Rob was telling the story about the international violinist Itzhak Perlman who famously played a violin concerto in its entirety despite breaking a string in the opening bar! When interviewed afterwards Perlman, who suffers significant mobility issues due to contracting polio as a child, explained that having battled his own physical challenges throughout his musical career he has always had to make music out of what remains.
Home for Good supports individuals and churches as they seek to engage with the need for fostering and adopting within the UK. There are 14,000 children waiting for fostering or adoption in the UK and most, if not all of these children are carrying the damage of the emotional and physical trauma that they have experienced in their lives so far. As I listened to their stories as told by foster carers, social workers and adopters I was reminded of the comfortable life I live and challenged once again to step out of my comfort zone.
The challenge for me personally and for us as a church is to welcome children in care, more than that, to have a vision to include those children in our midst. To make my home and our home at Jubilee a place of inclusion and acceptance. These are children to whom love means danger, unpredictable behaviour, anger and often abuse. Our call must be to teach them what love really is.
We already have a number of looked after children in our midst on a Sunday and if God continues to grow us and grow our impact in the community we will surely see more, not less.
Another key phrase that has stuck with me was a comment made by a social worker and foster carer – Al Coates. The phrase Al kept repeating was this
“Behaviour is language”
He reminded us through this phrase that the behaviour of a fostered or adopted child might be the only language they have to communicate pain and insecurity. We need to look beyond the behaviour itself to what the child is trying to express. Because our behaviour, our reaction to them, is also language. It is only when we can behave with loving acceptance despite their potentially disruptive behaviour that we can help them learn a more healthy way of communicating.
It was an inspiring day which regularly made me feel uncomfortable about my levels of compassion for the orphan and widow in my society. I was reminded time and again that my God is the God who places the lonely in families and to worship him is to play my part in this process. Home for Good exists to help local churches step up as communities and welcome the lonely into their midst.
HFG has healthy links with 5 different adoption agencies up and down the country and now strong links with Local Social Services departments. These local authorities have been deeply affected by the fact that HFG have had 10,000 people respond to their plea for help for unaccompanied minors.
If you would like to find out more about Home For Good, or to get involved, head to their Website: http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/