Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Hey there! My name is Tanner House, I am the Lead Pastor/Planter of Redeemer Church in Odessa, TX. I am a coffee snob and a vinyl record enthusiast. My wife Kendra and I have 4 kids that we adopted through the foster care system. We fostered for 6 years, and would like to encourage you to join in the mission.
Let me be honest for a minute; I did not want to do foster care. Maybe those of you are considering it will relate to what I am about to say; I was scared. I saw the emotional toll that it took on some dear friends of mine. They were placed with a beautiful 6 month old baby boy, and a month or so into their case, he was moved. It was devastating for them, and in 2011, I declared what I have heard so often about foster care, “I could never do that.” The thought of getting a child placed in your home, attaching yourself to this child like he or she was your biological child, being a parent to a child, loving that child, to then see that child be taken from you… this created so much fear in my heart. I was unwilling to allow myself the slightest chance of getting hurt in that way. There was a moment though in late 2013 the Lord worked to change my heart. We were pursuing an international adoption and our plans were at a standstill. I was presented with some statistics and realized that our area has such a need for people willing to foster and adopt kids, that I could no longer ignore the Lord’s calling on my life to pursue loving people in my own backyard.
So there I was, being asked to do something I was terrified of doing. There I was being asked in a very real way to demonstrate faith and dependency on the Lord. There we were being asked to die to ourselves, our plans, our wants and were asked to step into a world controlled by a broken system, where the broken people were. You know, all the things that Jesus wants from us…I quickly learned some things that have however changed me in some profound ways.
Here are a few things I have learned:
My perpetual temptation in foster care is to speak and act like I am the savior of these kids. I also am constantly tempted to speak and act like I think I am better than my kid’s biological parents. Perhaps, you’re guilty of saying something like, “I would never do that. I would never mistreat my kids that way.” That’s pride and I am guilty of it too. Foster care revealed to me an ugliness in my heart, and a hardness towards people who need the love of Jesus just like me. When you really consider the cross of Jesus, when we truly recognize how sinful we really are, we realize that we are all people in desperate need of grace. I can not save anyone, including myself. I am just as broken as these parents, and I need the loving embrace of the Savior’s completed work on my behalf.
Another thing I learned was that foster care is so incredibly difficult. It is easily the hardest thing I have ever done by a hefty margin. But here’s the thing, taking into account all the weight I’ve gained over the last 6 years from stress eating, taking into account all of the new grey hair I have that was not there when we started this in 2014, taking into account all of the heartache and heartbreak and painful goodbyes that were said, considering all of the sleepless nights and the hard that we endured in our fight for our children’s well-being, I would do it all over again.
My hope for my family is that my kids understand how deeply loved and wanted they are by our Heavenly Father. My hope is that my wife and I will reflect that type of love. I hope that reconciliation can and will take place between my kid’s and their biological families, someday. My hope is that people will see our family, and understand that the need in our area is great and the fight is so worth it. My hope is that because my wife and I said yes to doing something hard in the name of Jesus, generations are changed through the ministry of foster care. My hope is that you and I can go grab a cup of coffee, and I can point you towards the Gospel picture of adoption, and encourage you in your pursuit of this type of ministry in the Permian Basin.
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