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I’ve been asked recently:

Knowing now, what you didn’t know in the beginning, would you do it all again?

Fostering may not be perfect, and there are times when it is messy and ugly, but the short answer is:

ABSOLUTELY.

And because I’m not one to give short answers, I will elaborate.  You knew I would anyway.

Yes, the foster care system is terribly lacking, in some cases horrifically corrupt, full of lazy, jaded workers, and broken.  I think everyone has heard these stories.  But let me shed some light on another side:  workers that work tirelessly, all hours of the days, nights, weekends and holidays for children that may never know of their efforts…many who fight them in all areas.  I know and have seen and have worked with DHS case workers that would give their own homes to shelter these children, I’m sure have given shirts off their backs, money out of their pockets, and probably lunches too.  They know the system is broken, but they work so hard to give these foster children more, better.  They are seldom encouraged or thanked for their work.  Well, from MY heart:  THANK YOU foster care workers, placement workers, adoption workers and case workers!

So, for them, I would gladly do it all over again.

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Between fostering ours, and volunteering at the Emergency Children’s Shelter, I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve experienced a lot.  Most of it hurts.  I’ve been through emergency brain surgery, states away from my home, on a 3 month old that has his head beat against a wall 4 times.  I’ve had children who ate out of trash cans or off the floor because they had no idea if they would eat again.  I’ve had children so hurt by their families, they cut themselves to relieve the emotional pressure in a physical way.  Some cut little shallow cuts, and some are large, and scary, and deep.  I’ve walked in on a child trying to hang themselves because they just couldn’t deal with knowing they had been “thrown away” by their family.  I’ve waited, helpless, as the emergency vehicles came, sitting next to this child, shaking and crying uncontrollably.  Strength is hard to muster when you sit with a child who doesn’t want to live anymore.

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I’ve sat in the Shelter with children begging me to take them home with me or in the least, find them a family.  I’ve testified on behalf of children in court and if the parents even bothered to show up to court (most don’t), you get the evil eye.  I’ve been trashed verbally and all over social medias for doing this, sharing our stories, and that is really rough.  Knowing that we’re following God, and hearing terrible things being said about you, it hurts.  I’ve seen the faces of children who have lost all hope for their future….or a family.  I’ve sat and held children that cry for their abusers, the very ones that hurt them, and I don’t understand.  I’ve sat in on family therapies when their families didn’t come, even after orders from the courts, and heard stories that would break your heart and give you nightmares that evil to this extent does exist in the world.  These are the stories I can’t bear to tell.

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My heart is broken in so many pieces.

But each time, God mends it back together and is patient with my cries of not understanding the ugliness of this world, my cries of my own selfish fatigue.  Sometimes, the ugliness is so evident, and directed at me, and I want to circle my wagons and shut out the world….shut out the ugliness.  The filthy, lying, yucky, unGodly, , abusive ugliness.

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But I can’t.  These children need us, ALL of us.  I can’t quit and I would never even consider going back and NOT doing it again.  The kids are worth all the pain, heartbreak, evil eyes, and trashing behind my back.  Even if I had them only short term, knowing they were whole-heartedly loved while they were here, will heal some portion of their hearts.  If nothing else, for just a short time, they had peace.  Their demons were quiet.  Their abuse had stopped.  If only for awhile.

Their smiles, their laughter, their learning all make it worth it.  And every child deserves that.  So yes, I would gladly, unashamedly, do it all again, even knowing all that I know now.

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