A Social Worker’s Perspective


Through my work, I have witnessed miracles the Lord has accomplished through the small and simple acts of loving foster parents, who have helped to heal wounded souls.

Foster children range in age from newborn to seventeen years old, and many have been physically or sexually abused or neglected. Many have been emotionally mistreated. Some of them stay in a foster home for only days, but others stay months, even years. Sometimes their lives are permanently improved, but sometimes foster care offers only temporary relief for them.

Foster parents must remember that not all children can be successfully treated. No matter how much love is given or how hard we try, children still have the agency to choose their response and behavior.

Foster parents can be selective about the children they accept into their homes. Discernment can guide foster parents regarding which children to accept and which children would do better elsewhere.

On a dreary March day several years ago, I sat in a courtroom while a mother was sentenced to prison for child abuse. Four of her five children were then placed in the custody of a social services agency. (The oldest child had already been put in foster care nearly a year before.) Several months later a sixth child was born while the mother was in prison.

Eventually, all six children were placed in foster homes and later adopted. I was able to attend the sealing ceremonies of five of these youngsters to their adoptive parents. At the end of the last sealing, I watched the adoptive father and his son embrace. I knew that this was a match made in heaven, and I was grateful the Lord had allowed me to be a part of his work and his plan.

Even if a foster child does not become available for adoption—and few do—a foster family can comfort the child and be forever blessed by their association with the child. At the very least, a foster child can be taught that there is a Heavenly Father who loves him or her and who can answer prayers and help with the problems of life.

Ordinary people can make a profound difference in the lives of children in need when they serve as foster parents.

Suzanne M. Timmerman, a social worker, serves as a Relief Society teacher in the Kaysville Eighteenth Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake.