If you call yourself pro-life, you need to become involved in the foster care system.

I am pro-life. I believe abortion is wrong, and I want to make it absolutely unthinkable. However, I am also practical. If those of you who consider yourselves pro-life will not use your resources to care for the children already alive, then you have no moral high ground. Solely condemning abortion and calling for its abolishment, even if you are morally correct, does not solve the problem. Who will care for these children? Many pro-life Christians aren’t opening their homes for the children who already exist, nor supporting those people who do. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2017, 862,320 abortions were performed in the U.S. My home state of Massachusetts performed 18,590 of these. According to The Imprint, in Massachusetts in 2020, there were 9,693 children in custody of the state, yet there are only 5,868 licensed foster homes in Massachusetts. These statistics are sobering, and reflect the national trend of having almost double the number of foster children as there are licensed foster homes. In 2020, there were 214,421 licenced foster homes and 418,917 foster youth in the system nationally, according to The Imprint. 

Today, even though hundreds of thousands of unwanted fetuses were never born, the foster care system — which works to provide safe homes, temporary or permanent, for kids from unfortunate family situations — is completely flooded. Let’s say that in the future, the pro-life movement achieves its goal and abortion is heavily restricted or banned. If the lack of involvement with foster care persists as it does today, and if even half of these unwanted fetuses are born, what will we do with all the babies?

If the pro-life movement redirected its resources and energy into lobbying for positive policy reform, as well as increased involvement in the foster care system, I believe we as a nation could eventually be in a position to care for not only the children in the system but also the babies that could be born if abortion is banned in the future. At the bare minimum, the kids who are in the system should have homes while we work to ban abortion. And, while we attempt to ban abortion, we should also be working to reduce the social conditions that often factor into the decision to have an abortion.

As a college student, it isn’t practical to become a foster parent, but there are a plethora of opportunities to support foster families. Together We Rise and One Simple Wish are two of many organizations that make it easy to contribute to caring for foster youth. Or simply ask around at church to see if any foster families would benefit from an evening of childcare. If kids aren’t your thing, maybe make dinner for said family. 

I realize many individual Christians in my community, and yours, are involved in the foster care system to the furthest extent they can. I honor that. The emotional stress is taxing. But even though systemic change of the foster care system is desperately needed, do not use that as an excuse to do nothing. I know it is hard. But it is unimaginably harder for the traumatized kids who live this reality. 

My family babysat a boy who was born addicted to drugs. A tiny little baby going through the pain of withdrawal, without anyone to call mother, is one of the saddest sights in the world. Another kid was taken from his parents for a month at the age of seven. In that month, he didn’t stay at the same foster home for more than four consecutive nights. Can you imagine that level of uncertainty in your life? Hearing the countless stories of brokenness shatters my heart over and over again.

The pain of loving my foster sister, while living in the anticipation of potentially having to let her go, is beyond words. This pain is the excuse I hear most often when I ask people why they are not involved with foster care. People say things like: “I couldn’t do it. It would hurt too much to let them go.” I understand. But these children need love so much more than you need comfort. “Pain did not stop Jesus from loving,” as Pastor Mary said on communion Sunday. Pain will not stop me either. Do not let it stop you.