As adults, they’re more likely than their peers to experience homelessness, poor health care, poverty, unemployment, and prison. They number 400,000. They’re the U.S. children in foster care.
Add these numbers, and their future looks even darker:
- 54% will earn a high school diploma.
- 2% will earn a bachelor’s degree.
- 84% will become parents too soon, perpetuating a cycle of neglect and abuse.
- 51% will be unemployed.
- 25% will experience homelessness.
- 30% will receive public assistance.
A few years ago, a new co-worker at AFA turned out to be a foster parent, and I was challenged to learn more about the subject, about the system, and about the needs in the U.S. It was a real eye-opener. But that family moved on, and the subject slowly slipped to the back of my mind as more pressing priorities came to the forefront.
Then, a few days ago, a young man’s voice mail on my telephone spoke with a passion and an urgency asking me to please take a look at Wanted, a short film he’d made.
Now, AFA receives more pleas like that than you would believe, certainly more than we can ever handle – phone calls and emails from creative people who are using their gifts for God’s glory; they only want a chance at a little good press. Unfortunately, all too often, we have to reply that we simply have no one with time to review their work.
But something in the sincerity and humility of Nathan Jacobson’s voice grabbed my attention and moved me to talk with him about his project. In his early 20s, Jacobson said this is his first such film. He’s writer/director. He dreams of earning a living as a filmmaker; I predict, and pray, that he’s well on the way.
But for this one, he said, “I just want it to minister to people, to encourage them, and maybe to make life easier for some kids in need.”
It’s a beautiful film, a gripping short story that’ll move your heart. It’s pro-family. It’s subtly but solidly Christian. It’s challenging. It’s convicting. It’s pro-foster care, pro-adoption. It’s this film that told me there are 400,000 foster kids in the nation. It also told me there are 76.1 million families who could foster or adopt them.
May is Foster Care Month, and the least I can do is try to bring a little attention to the need for capable and caring Christian parents to pray about giving a kid a chance.
If I could do one thing to help the church face this issue, step up to the plate, and consider these 400,000 kids, I would require that every congregation watch Wanted. And then pray about it.
In Jacobson’s moving narrative, Luke is on the cusp of aging out of the foster system, but the Johnsons are determined to offer him a family only days before his 18th birthday. The story is clever and creative, with a climactic twist that reveals a startling bit of backstory. It turns out that … well, I won’t spoil it. Production values are equally superb. These 22 minutes are worth the investment of your time and a few bucks. You can watch the trailer and rent or purchase Wanted. You’ll also enjoy following Jacobson and his work on Facebook.
Alex Kendrick of Kendrick Brothers Films (Courageous, Fireproof, War Room) praised the film: “Rusty Martin [who plays Luke] has a bright future ahead of him, and Nathan Jacobson is a talented young filmmaker with features in his future.”
Looking back at the issue itself, another critical concern today is that the system is grossly overcrowded. Typically, a baby in foster care will live in three different homes before his first birthday. Foster children, on average, will spend 26.6 months in foster care, two years plus – long enough to diminish any child’s sense of safety and security for a lifetime.
… more likely than their peers to experience homelessness, poor health care, poverty, unemployment, and prison … 400,000 … our children in foster care.
Editor’s Note: For more information on foster care, go to angelsfoster.org.