Walking a Hard Road

We’ve got a meeting at the end of this week to discuss the reunification of our foster daughter with her birth family. 

There are a lot of emotions going on right now. On the one hand, this morning as we drove to school, I prayed for each of our family members and for our foster daughter’s family as well. Which we have been doing for two years. And I had the thought, Why are you surprised that prayers are being answered? Except, if I’m being honest, those prayers were more for the benefit of my foster daughter than because I had any faith. Anger and unforgiveness has kind of made me only able to make a blanket prayer, God be with them. But at the same time, I’m proud of her birth family. It’s been a long hard road and they’ve worked hard to overcome some really big obstacles. 

When I’m dealing with some big tantrums and crazy behavior, I find myself thinking, Well, at least this will no longer be my responsibility. But then sweet moments happen and I think, what is our family going to look like without this child smack in the middle always stirring things up? And I worry about my other kids’ grief that they will have to process. 

And I wonder, how on earth are we going to come up with a smooth transition that will produce the least amount of trauma? How much assistance do I offer to make this easier for my daughter? How much assistance will hinder her bonding back with her family? How do I make sure she knows, beyond all doubt, that I will always love her and I am always going to be her mom, and I’ll always be here for her if she needs me? How do I step back from primary caregiver to friend of the family? 

I don’t know. 

I have no regrets. But I hate this. 

I’m sitting here in my living room while I write this and I looked out the window and saw a bunch of birds swooping through the early morning gray sky. This verse came to mind. 

Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

This is what I have to cling to in faith. That Jesus loves my foster daughter even more than I do and he has his hand on her life. My job is to say yes to whatever love and care God needs me to offer this child, but I also have to let go when he says it’s time to let go. Though maybe not a complete release, just a loosening of my hold. 

I try to look forward into the future, and fear shows me all the things that could go wrong. But faith requires me to stay in the moment. Right now what am I required to do? I’m required to give her birth family another chance. And I’m required to walk with them through this process. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I know what I have to do today. 

All prayers are appreciated as we walk this road. 

Plug for Foster Care

Foster Care is kind of in a crisis right now. They need families to sign up to be foster parents. It’s a constant need. I see ads and articles talking about this pressing need all the time, but I have been hesitant to take up the call and start advocating and pressing other people to consider being a foster family. Mostly because we have been on this journey since December 2019, and it’s been hard. And I’m in a place where I can very clearly tell you how hard this is on a day-to-day basis, and do I really want to be responsible for someone else signing up for foster care and then watching them be weighed down by this same burden? 

I kind of feel the same way about having large families. I love our large family. I would not go back in time and do anything differently. But, it’s been hard. It’s not an easy path. So, I don’t go around telling everyone else that they should also have a large family. 

But having a large family is what has made me who I am. Refining by fire. And being a foster mom has been a whole other level of refinement. 

I didn’t pursue fostering. I had a desire to be a foster parent, but the size of our family disqualified us to be official state foster parents. The prayer in my heart was kind of, Ok God, I have a heart for these kids, but there is nothing I can do. If you want me to foster, you will have to fling open the doors. So he did. We ended up with what is technically termed as a kinship foster placement, even though we were just good friends of the kids, not formally related. 

I think about concerns I’ve had about fostering. The main one is, what about my own children? I don’t want to harm them in any way! After all, kids who enter the foster care system are usually coming with some sizable baggage that affects their behavior and their ability to get along with others. 

In the first months that we welcomed a sibling group into our home, we had a lot of rough spots. Very rough spots. During that time many of my children came to me in private to complain and ask why on earth these kids were in our home. I was very straight forward with my answer. James 1:27 (NIV) says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I am a Christian. God wants me to take care of the orphans, and these kids might as well be orphans since the State will not allow them to live with their parents. 

They need help. 

We are able to give help. 

We help. 

This is not to say that I purposefully put my children in danger just because I felt like I should help foster kids. In the end, two of the kids had to be moved to a higher level of care than I was able to give. But we were able to eventually have the youngest sibling on a more permanent basis and she is still with us. And while those two kids didn’t stay with us, I do know that I offered them love and safety during the time they were with us and helped them on their journey. 

I think in the end, it’s always a heart issue. What is your heart towards the orphans and widows of this world? What is your posture when it comes to obeying James 1:27? It’s been my experience that if you are willing to obey, and ask God to give you HIS heart for the needy, God will fling open doors so you can help. Whether it be to actually have children in your home, to help other families who are fostering (they need all the support they can get!) or to find some other way to help, if you are willing, there is always something you can do. 

This is my plug for foster care. These kids are God’s creation. They are beautiful children with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of them. 

They need help. 

We can help. 

Let’s help. 

My Heart is Full

My heart is full right now.

Our youngest foster child has returned to our home. 

When she got here the kids had a welcome sign hanging up and there was much squealing and hugging and running around. In the midst of all the chaos, she turned to me and said, “Esther, I was waiting for you!” 

You know, I never pursued foster parenting. But it has pursued me. Over the years I have heard stories of the need and my heart would break, but I always felt helpless. What can I do? In order to be a foster parent through the state, you can only have six kids in your home. We have ten of our own. It’s going to be a long time before I can even qualify to become a foster parent. 

And then I would hear another story about the desperate need for foster homes. And my heart would break again. And finally, I told God, if you want me to be a foster parent, you’ll have to do something special to make it happen. 

And he did. 

And we walked a rocky road with these kids, full of extreme ups and downs. 

And then they left and I had no more power over the situation. And I felt bruised and battered, heartbroken. And I told God, I guess you don’t want us to do this anymore? Well, if you do, you will have to work some kind of miracle, because I can’t make it happen in my own power. 

So he did. 

Again.

And my heart is full.