The Ballaghs: A perfect illustration of what it can look like for a foster family to demonstrate God’s love by coming alongside a family in crisis.
When a foster family takes a child into their home, the aim is for that family to love and care for the child as if he or she is their own as long as needed. And while that same child is with his or her foster family, it is hoped that the biological parents seek help or that another family member will be ready and able to provide care. In the meantime, the foster family has a unique and blessed opportunity to show that child an alternate way of life. The Ballaghs did just that.
Janet and Travis provided care for three boys whose parents had a history of drug abuse. During their time together, they did what many healthy families do. They established daily routines, shared weekend adventures, took photos of their time together and grew to care for one another. As time went on, God began to shift Janet’s heart to not only care for the boys, but for their biological parents as well.
“God grew my heart in a way that I would never have imagined. He helped me begin to care for the birth parents of our foster children. Easter came and we had three little boys living with us. We had known the birth mother a little bit and we had just met the birth father. We invited them to come to our house for Easter,” says Janet.
Because of safety and confidentiality, birth parents of foster children are not given a lot of information about the foster family-and vice versa. They know their first names and at times, a bit about their history, but that is the generally the extent of the information shared.
Given their past record of drug abuse, Travis was apprehensive about letting the birth parents into their home and allowing them to know where they lived. But as the days passed by, the Lord began to not only move Janet’s heart, but Travis’s as well. They knew they were taking a risk, but it was a risk that they believed God put on their hearts.
While Travis and Janet began to build a relationship with the birth parents, they were making the transition for the boys to go back into their home smoother and more effective. Over the course of the next two years, Janet and Travis began to see something that they never imagined they would see. What at first seemed to be a hopeless case of abandonment, resulted in the birth father coming around to embrace his three boys.
Janet explains, “I would send pictures of the boys to their parents when they lived with us. The father had said, ‘I have never seen my boys be this happy.’ And from there, he made a decision that he was going to be clean. He had not been clean in 20 years, and he since has become Superdad. It has been amazing to watch him. He loves his boys. He works hard to take care of them–and actually right now, the three boys are placed with their father as their primary caretaker. He is doing it by himself.”
Both FaithBridge and the Ballaghs’ church have supported the Ballaghs and the boy’s birth family through our Community of Care model. What began as supporting the foster family has now extended to supplying of the birth family with bunk beds, clothing, a double stroller, and other basic needs that they didn’t have or couldn’t provide. And although these items were needed and necessary, the beauty of this story is not in the generosity of material goods alone. This story illustrates what it looks like when the Church and surrendered families come alongside families in crisis to demonstrate God’s love.