The Apostle Paul was a prolific writer. We have 13/14 of his letters included in our New Testament, with a clear endorsement from another apostle regarding their divine inspiration. Peter writes: “His (Paul’s) letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures …

We are permitted glimpses of Paul’s ‘modus operandi’ in many personal passages in these writings, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 we find extremely pertinent references to ‘parenting’ – vs 7 & 10, 11

“…We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children …. you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God…”

With that as a backdrop, I’d like to share something of our personal journey.

Meeting my wife, Sue, 44+ years ago, as students at Bible College, we were married 2 years later and moved to Immingham to serve the Lord. We were blessed with two children: Miriam born in 1977 and Mark, born 14 months later – both arrived safely at the Croft Baker Maternity Hospital in Cleethorpes – and so our adventures in parenting began over 41 years ago – what a roller-coaster. Much of it was a matter of ‘trial and error’ – our error was their trial !

Years later Mark met and married Michelle – a young lady whose family attended our church during our ministry season in Brigg. In the first 5 years of their marriage they produced 4 grandsons. The oldest, Daniel is 12 at the time of writing. So, added to our parenting experiences we’ve had 12 more years learning the joys of being grand-parents.

Additionally, we spent all of our married life caring for others in a professional capacity – Sue as health-care professional and I as a ‘church minister’, and even since leaving paid ministry our commitment to parenting has continued. We’re delighted to have been ‘adopted’ by a Nigerian daughter, and more recently, by a Ghanaian son, who pastors a growing church in the vicinity.

However, 6 months ago, one Thursday in early September 2017 our journey took an unexpected twist. Sue attended the Cancer Support Group which she’d helped to initiate, and which meets weekly at our local Library. For some weeks she’d been accompanying a lady through her personal cancer trauma. On this occasion, the lady, who happens to be a foster parent shared that her greatest grief during the whole period, was the temporary removal of her foster children, deemed necessary to allow her to receive vital treatment. After offloading her burden, she said to Sue, “You would make a great foster parent – you are such a good and caring listener”. On her journey home, Sue pondered these words & they took hold of her. Yet she had serious doubts about my agreement with such a course of action.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch that very morning, and for an inexplicable reason, I read a leaflet that I’d picked up at a Church Celebration event some 2 years previously. It had laid around the lounge, unread, all that time. Its title was:

“Open your heart, Open your home. Foster.”

 I was very taken aback when the thought crossed my mind: “We could do this”, and, of course, with hindsight, I was being set up for Sue’s return ! You may imagine the conversation which followed, in which we decided to ‘try the door’.

Then a quick phone call, kicked off a lengthy process, which included:

  •   Pre-assessment (with a social worker, who is a church goer, and is related to someone who shares our surname, Depledge)
  •   Training – over 3 days (18 hours) – with 5 other couples, 2 of which are church-goers
  •   The main assessment, with weekly visits from a different social worker – each lasting 1-2 hours, with loads of form-filling,  questions, discussions, voice-recordings – no stone left unturned.
  •   Fire Safety visit – 3 burly firemen, complete with machine looking at our bungalow & advising on escape plans
  •   Medicals with our GP – very thorough (and re-assuring) lasting an hour each
  •   Gathering references – some face to face, others by phone – family, friends and former employers
  •   A Panel Interview – still to be arranged, as I write, which will give its approval – hopefully !
  •   If/when approved we may well have our first foster-child by the end of June 2018

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I’ve shared this because we’d appreciate your thoughts/prayers as this exciting, and challenging journey in ‘parenting’ continues.

THANK YOU !

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