So many of the cases we face while fostering are complicated, messy, and messed UP. It’s so easy to get jaded by the process of foster care.
I have been frustrated with the trauma-induced behaviors, sleep deprivation, the forms, and the myriad of appointments.
Then you have these precious, confused, broken hearts and I usually don’t have the answers these kids need and want.
Phew! Shall I go on? Foster care can be overwhelming!
It can even feel unfair at times. There are days when I have felt like maybe I missed it.
Maybe my “calling” was to go back to school, become a judge, and grant all the children expedited permanency creating a quick, easy process for the foster parents. But I don’t have a way to see the future or a way to know truly what is best for each child at first glance.
SO what has kept me going?? (other than the fact that law school sounds like a death sentence)…
It’s simply not their fault that they are in foster care. It’s not their fault that sometimes keeping them safe isn’t a “cut and dry” process.
It’s my job to love hard and care for each one the best I can in the space that I’ve been given. Sometimes I feel like my limited rights confine me at times or that my skills are insufficient for the child’s needs.
The truth is there is no case worker, lawyer, or therapy session that can provide the love of a parental figure (do the research). Do I seriously not expect the enemy of humanity to be working overtime to make these kids’ lives a nightmare—to rob them of their destiny? Of course he is.
Even if my time with a child is short, my impact can be life-long, and my prayers will always be heard.
If not me, who?
Let’s be honest, good foster parents are desperately needed. I could give up and give in to the forces at work against me, but there is no way to know where these children will end up.
We all have heard the fostering stories of less-than-ideal foster parents slipping into the system or stories of the negative impact institutions can have on a child’s security and ability to attach. I want to be a solution to the problem of bad parenting.
He submitted himself to broken, unholy people, and to an unholy world. He bore my shame and sin. Despite associating himself with murderers and prostitutes, He made a rippling impact in lives for all of eternity.
Daily I choose to submit to people and governmental structures that are imperfect (like Jesus did) for the sake of love. I know that Jesus is truly the only hope for our foster children, for caseworkers, for biological parents, and for me.
Daily I choose to say to my child, “By God’s grace, I will bear the weight of the mess (in the form of dangerous family or an imperfect legal system). I will try my best to shield you and show you the love of Jesus.”
Chances are you, like me, began your journey in foster care because you felt God tugging at your heart. Sometimes that calling comes through a “still small voice”. Sometimes it’s through a gift of compassion from a story you heard.
No matter how foster care moved your heart, knowing that you’re called will keep you moving forward. I believe God is good to me and that he will use everything I face in the trenches for good.
It’s when I doubt whether or not I have truly been called to fostering that things get extra turbulent. The Bible says in James 1 that “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (NIV)”
It’s important to hold on to the assurance of the calling you’re given. Honestly, I don’t think the enemy would call me into fostering and providing care for orphans.
I am changed
I’ll never forget the first precious foster baby I held. Her eyes had red dots on them from being strangled by her father. Nor will I forget our second placement–a violent, scared little boy that had me sitting at a psych clinic for hours on my birthday.
There’s a myriad of fostering stories I carry. Each one has taught me to stretch my ideas of grace, die to myself, and trust God in ways that only another foster parent can understand.
Pressing through the tough days has provided me with priceless gifts. Yes, gaining character and increased love for others has come at a cost, but as I look back, I treasure all of it.
Hope & Home
The support and encouragement we receive from our foster care agency has kept our wheels turning.
I’ll never forget, only a few days after saying “yes” to take a four-week-old baby, we received a surprising call informing us that his twin brother would be joining us weeks before we expected him or were ready for him.
Another foster mom in our Hope & Home community found, purchased, and dropped off another bouncy seat for him. Other parents have provided toys, meals, and clothing.
Parents check-in with each other and provide emotional support. The support group we attend monthly has allowed us to feel less isolated on this journey that few understand.
Our children love being part of the unique community at Hope & Home where a kid is a kid no matter when they joined the family, how they behave, or what they look like. The resources and community they provide have been a lifeline.
So, I’m asking you today, please, hang it there. Trust that God is working a bigger picture even when it hurts. We only see a small crazy piece of the big picture, but it’s all worth it – really.
A verse that I cling to when I don’t understand where God is in the mess, or how to navigate our lives as foster parents is James 1:2 which says “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought (MSG).”
We are kidding ourselves if we think for a minute that our “professional parent” license makes us perfect parents. Thankfully we can trust the One with all the answers and all the love that we need for each day.
Foster care is not for the faint of heart, but don’t grow weary in doing good. Get support. Get respite. But for the love of the kiddos…don’t give up!
If you are considering becoming a foster parent, there is an incredible need for more people who are willing to serve these incredible kids! Contact Hope & Home today to get started on your way to changing the lives of children in foster care.