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Foster Care and Adoption


[1] The miracle of Easter can only be known from the vantage point of Good Friday. Christ died for us. To experience the reality of death creates the potential to understand the incredible power of new life. Mary Magdalene's view of Easter is born of that reality. So is the experience of Chau, a young woman who has learned about death and life in a long and painful journey.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"…. Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.

John 20:1-2,10 (NIV) 

[2] Chau is a native-born Cambodian and is the youngest of 14 children. At age four, she lost her eyesight to a childhood illness. Her father's vocation required him to be away for long periods of time, leaving a large family with few resources. After struggling for many years, Chau's parents made the best decision they could and asked an uncle to care for Chau.

[3] Life for Chau, while living in her uncle's home, was challenging. Her uncle suffered from alcoholism and this caused much pain for Chau as she grew up. In an attempt to overcome the challenges of being raised in an alcoholic environment, Chau began caring for herself at an early age. Stumbling in her "darkness," she would wander away from her abusive home and spend time on the streets. It was dark. She felt alone. And she stood outside crying.

…..As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. …"Woman, why are you crying?"

 John 20:11-13 (NIV)

[4] Chau's dark life on the streets went on for many years. One day she was approached by a woman, an orphanage director, who became aware of her struggles. She took the time and caring to ask why Chau cried. Over time, she learned about the atrocities of Chau's life with her uncle. Befriending this nine-year old child, the director began looking for ways to find a loving, permanent family.

[5] The Orphanage Director knew of a Minneapolis church with member families willing to adopt refugee children. Soon, Chau found herself boarding a bus enroute to the airport and heading for Minneapolis to be with her new family.

[6] Chau remained with her adoptive parents for one year. Chau's blindness and the emotional problems resulting from abuse, were challenging for her and her adoptive family. Following a year-long struggle, the adoptive parents made the best decision they could, relinquishing the adoption and placing Chau in foster care.

[7] Chau continued to struggle. She was afraid, alone. Out of fear, she became ever more self-sufficient, isolating emotionally and refusing to trust. She was moved into 12 different foster homes over several years.

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus….. Woman, he said, "Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned to him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 John 20:13-18 (NIV)

[8] Someone to understand. Someone to listen. Someone to lead. Failed foster family placements, school systems that didn't understand Chau's disability and the scars of her experience, were made known to another caring person, Chau's county social worker. He began to explore the option of Lutheran Social Service (LSS) of Minnesota's Treatment Foster Care - care that would provide the additional counseling and support Chau needed to heal and to trust. That exploration led him to Treatment Foster Parents, who were specially trained to parent children like Chau. Chau also applied and was accepted into the Minnesota Academy for the Blind.

[9] Chau felt accepted and welcomed at the Academy. She enrolled in classes at a community high school and became involved in extracurricular activities. The Treatment Foster Care team guided her and taught her life skills that equipped her to reach her dreams.

[10] Chau's foster parents encouraged her spiritually as well. She became active in her church and youth group. Chau, her friends, family, and community celebrated her graduation from high school, and she now attends a State University.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 Romans 6:4 (NIV) 

[11] A new life. Whenever Chau has the opportunity to tell her story she shares, "I never unpacked my suitcase until I came to LSS."

[12] Chau describes her experience with the Treatment Foster Care Team and Family as transforming. Transformation is what Social Ministry is about. At Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, we are sharing in "changing lives." Lives are changed by "expressing the love of Christ through acts of service", so that "just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

[13] Are we all living "new lives?" Are we living new lives that require us to share with those who are struggling in our community? Or, are we satisfied to remain comfortable?

[14] How can we, by voluntarily entering the lives of others like Chau, create a deeper experience of Easter and a greater ability to share in changing lives?

[15] Mary Magdalene shared the good news: "I have seen the Lord!" Do others see the Lord through our care for them?"


© April 2003
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 3, Issue 4