We are anxiously awaiting the date of our upcoming adoptions of all 3 children, and now, I am looking back over the last 17 months with these children, and I am amazed.
Amazed how far the kids have come:
Diva Princess has matured and grown so much. She has bonded not only with us as her parents, but with her siblings. She doesn’t have that deep FEAR of everything and everyone, and her circumstances and her new family and not being LOVED! She is BEAUTIFUL and so very HAPPY! She is a joy to my heart!
Little Man is TALKING! Whole sentences! And while it still sounds as if he is talking with a mouthful of marshmallows, it is COMMUNICATION! He has gone from a TERRIFIED child, afraid to be touched and held and rocked, to CRAVING it. His favorite past time is sitting on my lap in the rocking chair. I love that past time. He was so afraid of leaving the house (afraid he wouldn’t be back) and strangers coming to the house (afraid they’d take him away)….and he has such FAITH and TRUST now.
Baby Boy is a miracle. I cannot say that enough. He is walking….more like running. He is a climber. He has this unbelievable CURIOUSITY about him, he wants to know what everything is and how it works. He is beginning to try to communicate with words now instead of screaming or pointing. Medically he is healing so well. He has epilepsy, and yes, honestly, it does break my heart for him, and yes, we must carry an emergency backpack of medication for him wherever we go….and yes, it will effect the rest of his life down to the sports he will be able to play, or even the Christmas lights he will hang on his tree….it isn’t a death sentence. He was given a death sentence in the hospital, and that is gone. He has been given LIFE and I want him to live it and enjoy it to the FULLEST!
This is what fostering has taught me:
I am so much stronger than I ever imagined.
I am not going to sugarcoat fostering. There is always struggle: emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, etc, with the children, with your family, in your job, with your spouse. Some days, it hits all at the same time! But, being able to carry on, keep living, muddle through, PURSUE and let LOVE win out, is the ability to adapt and grow and change.
I had this image of fostering before we did it: angelic children, cherub babies and fat chubby baby thighs….smiles and laughter…..OK, well, I wasn’t that delusional, but close. I knew we’d have damaged children, physically and emotionally. But it’s so much BIGGER than that! And being able to HANDLE all of it has surprised me. I can do this! But I couldn’t have done this without Christ. I could give you story after story, example after example, of parenting moments I had to LITERALLY, physically leave the situation, get completely alone, and just for a second, cry out to Jesus. “Holy Spirit, I have NO idea what to do here.” “I have no idea how to parent in this situation.” “Help me to understand.” And every time…..EVERY time I asked, He did. But I had to humble myself and understand that alone, I will fail. I had to know enough about myself and enough about God to know, HE KNOWS WHAT TO DO, I don’t. My plan fails every time.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil 4:13
Love changes everything.
So cliché right? But I know the difference, I’ve seen the difference! I’ve seen fostering done for all the wrong reasons, and I’ve seen firsthand what it costs the child. We decided to foster out of obedience to God and out of the OVERFLOW OF HIS LOVE FOR US, no other reason. If we had treated these children as “foster children” or a “pay check”, that isn’t love and we would have failed. If we had just stuck the child in the back of the house and played music or the tv so loudly it drowned out the sounds of the baby crying, we would have failed. We can’t count the days or weeks or years til they were “gone”…that isn’t love. We can’t look down on them for their parents or their upbringing, their s e x or their age, ethnicity or culture. If we did, we wouldn’t have been doing this out of LOVE. We had to go into this knowing we were going to have LOVE through very ugly situations bigger than us and had to go to Someone bigger than us for help.
I had to know the One that loves me first, in all of my wretchedness, before I could love someone else, especially a broken, abandoned, abused child. I had to be willing to set myself aside, my selfish wants (sometimes needs) aside, to show LOVE to these children….even when it hurt, even when I was exhausted, even when I had NO idea what I was doing. I had to SHOW LOVE. Every day. In every circumstance. If I couldn’t show MINE all the time, I had to show Christ’s. And that saved our family, our children, our lives.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Cor 13:1-3
Fostering is worth it.
I hear the giggling of the Littles playing together, I hear all 6 of the children playing a game together and my heart rejoices. I see one of the children reach a milestone or achieve something and I get excited. It’s worth it. Every dime spent, every mile driven for medical, every therapist, every hour of sleep lost, every tear cried…..all of it: they are worth it. They are worth our time and energy.
More of us should do it. Not EVERYONE…trust me, there are some that should not do this and I understand that. But so many good, patient, wonderful parents are out there that CAN do this and aren’t. I am begging you…..look into it.
The system is hopelessly broken.
I cannot even begin to give an answer that will fix this problem. The longer I do this, the more I see it is an iceberg: I only see a tiny piece of it….when underneath is a whole societal issue, and society cannot fix itself until society as a whole wakes up and gets involved. It isn’t just MORE foster parents…it’s fixing the broken adults that are creating the foster children. It isn’t a better foster care system or better workers. I’ve seen AMAZING workers! I’ve also seen the awful, lazy ones, don’t get me wrong. But these people see unbelievably heartbreaking situations and they change lives for pennies. Their job is hard and pretty thankless. Well, from my family to all the wonderful caseworkers trying to change the world: THANK YOU.
If you can get involved in some way or the other, do it. Please. I don’t pretend to know all the answers or claim to never to have failed. But I have loved, wholeheartedly and unapologetically, whether we keep them or send them home….I have loved.