Turkey (MNN) — Yesterday, we talked about how the Turkish government is still on the hunt for dissenters after the failed coup in July. The targeting of military, police, and other government personnel to flush out coup supporters isn’t new.
But Business Insider recently reported that Ankara has also fixed their punitive sights on a surprising group: foster families.
If authorities find foster parents to be coup supporters, they will remove the children from their foster families. The foster family investigations have been ongoing since August 23.
An official from the Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Policy reportedly told Reuters, “It would not be right for a child to remain with a (foster) family if links to FETO are confirmed as a result of the examinations.”
FETO is also known as the Gulenist Terror Organisation — the group that Turkish authorities allege was behind the coup.
Various human rights organizations and the European Union have called out President Tayyip Erdogan for democratic “backsliding” due to an over-reaching scope of post-coup arrests and crackdowns.
What could happen to children who are removed from Turkish foster parents? We spoke with Bill Blacquiere, President of Bethany Christian Services, to get some input. Bethany does not have any programs or activity in Turkey, although they do receive refugee families and minors from the country.
“I think what would happen is many of these children would end up in institutions, and by that, I mean large orphanages. Their bond with their [foster] parents would be severed and it would be a horrible psychological situation for a child. It would cause fear and these children would suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and you’re going to see them having struggles the rest of their life due to this kind of action.”
Blacquiere says, bottom line, “This would be a horrible thing for children, and under this martial law, the government is just destroying family relationships.”
Right now, our first line of defense is to surround foster families in Turkey with prayer.
“Pray that the children would be protected and not separated from their parents for political reasons. Secondly, I guess to pray that these leaders would think through what they’re doing to families in long-term hurting to children and families, what this would cause. Then, thirdly, we should pray for foster families. A lot of foster families are believers and they advocate for children, for justice, for mercy — and in this type of situation, because of their Christian beliefs, they’re actually being persecuted. So pray for those family members for comfort and strength as they go through this turmoil.”
You can also take action. “People should be writing…contacting their senators and representatives to say, ‘Can the United States and their relationship with Turkey advocate for families and children?’ So many times, things just get political and people forget about the harm it does to children, and maybe Turkey would listen if there was some international advocacy made to say, for political reasons, you should not be harming children and families.”
And, of course, you can be an agent of Christ’s love to a foster child by becoming a foster parent yourself with Bethany. Blacquiere encourages, “At Bethany, we’re continually looking for foster families, both for refugee children as well as children here in the United States!”
It’s a good reminder for us that children and foster families need the Church’s support and Christ’s love, not just in this situation in Turkey, but in our backyards as well.