Fostering was something I had thought about for years. Several things held me back from beginning the process. To begin with, the training was never convenient. For both Cole & me to attend the training 12 consecutive weeks, on a school night, for three hours with no child care seemed impossible. Second, I thought it would be too painful emotionally to love and invest in a child who could be taken away in a moments notice. Third I was afraid I might do bodily harm to someone or put myself or my family in danger when aware of the circumstances of a potential child placed in our family and if that potential child was returned to an environment that I knew to be harmful, abusive, neglectful….I tend to have quite a mama bear complex and was concerned about my ability to trust in the system and ultimately in the sovereignty of God.
After attending an adoption conference in Texas and praying about the direction the Lord was taking our church in adoption/orphan care, I came away confident that the Lord wanted our church/our family to come along side our foster system. What the Lord revealed to me was how many times in my reasoning for not being involved I was saying “I”and “me”. And what He boldly revealed to me was that it’s NOT ABOUT ME! It’s about being His hands and feet and meeting the needs of the children hurting around us. This used to be a ministry of the church, but somewhere along the way we turned it over to the state. Why?
Who knows the only One who can give peace in circumstances that most of us can’t even imagine, but is a reality to many just down the street?….The Body of Christ!
Who has been rescued from our desperate circumstances and brought into a family that doesn’t judge us on our past but offers a promise and hope for the future?…..only the Body of Christ!
There is only one who can:
comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve
bestow on them a crown of beautyinstead of ashes,
the oil of joyinstead of mourning,
and a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)
Should we avoid being involved in situations that could cause us pain and hurt or require us to sacrifice some of our comforts or take us out of our comfortable routine and organized life? We flee from the need in front of us because of fear.We’re afraid of changing what we’ve always done.Our lives have become comfortable and manageable.We have to put ourselves where the needs are!
Scripture tells us as believers we are to die to self daily, take up our cross and follow Him!
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16
In January our church hosted foster care classes taught by the Department of Human Resources (DHR)
social worker and Debbie Dickson of Shepherd Staff
. It was such a blessing to be able to attend classes during normal “church” hours and to have childcare and children’s activities available (thus removing reason #1 for not going through training). We finished classes in March and turned our paperwork in at the last class. We didn’t hear anything from the DHR for a few months and then they called to schedule our home visit for September 7th at 10 o’clock. We had a great visit and I asked tons of questions about intake, caseload, etc and they mentioned getting a couple of babies in that week and one that morning. We have plenty of square footage in our home but only 4 bedrooms and 7 kids, you can do the math . When we bought this house we had one child and I was pregnant with our second….we had no plans to have a large family…..bet God was laughing then 🙂 We are working on house plans that would give more room options for fostering in the future, but until then I told them we could easily make room for a child 0-6 and to call with situations older and we would have to determine based on age, sex, and circumstance if we could make arrangements that would work. After checking the fire alarm, water temperature, escape plan, etc…. they were gone and life resumed as usual……until the phone rang at 5:15.
The baby they had told me about that had been discharged that morning was still sitting at DHR. His foster family that was supposed to be picking him up hadn’t showed all day…..could we come get him?!?!?!?
I flew up to the attic to get the infant car seat, called SK to see if she was almost home from cross country because I had to get 4 kids to soccer practice, so she pulled in and I handed off Eli and the 4 soccer players (who had no idea what was going to be waiting on them at home after practice) and Emme and I jumped in the bus headed to DHR. About half way there my phone rings…it’s Cole (completely forgot to let him in the loop). “Hey honey…what’s the plan for tonight (meaning dinner)..um, well, it just changed….SK is running soccer practice and I’m on the way to DHR to pick up a baby!” :-0) …..ooooookaaaaay, how long will we have him? You were in classes with me…who knows! Love ya!
45 minutes later we pulled in the driveway
This is what I picked up
Can you tell we left in a hurry 🙂
before we finished unloading Cole made it home and helped us inside!
This is the most patient and loving man you will ever meet.
Not sure he would have “put a ring on it” 11 years ago if he would have know what the Lord had planned with our union. Just kidding!
About 10 minutes later the rest of the crew arrived and after laughing at their shocked and excited faces we were able to get a group shot before supper, baths and life as we know it (with just a lot less sleep)
How long will he be with us? Who knows! It could be a few more days or it could be a lifetime. What I have complete peace about it that my God has a perfect plan for his life and for whatever amount of time He allows him to be in our family we will love his as our own, teach him about his Heavenly Father and tell him how precious and loved he is. Will my heart break if he leaves us? Yes! Will I cry? You bet, already bawled at the thought many times! Will I regret opening our hearts and home? NO WAY!
Hebrews 12:2For the joy he knew was coming he gave himself.That’s our example.As we focus on fulfilling what is on God’s heart, looking ahead to the joy He promises –we help others find the love of God through the giving of ourselves.That’s the ultimate goal!
21 Foster Parenting Truths As Seen By a Veteran Foster Parent
from Keith Thompson:
My wife and I have been doing foster care for 17 years. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that seem to be givens when working for our children.
1. Love may not be enough, but when you add unlimited patience and a sense of humor, you can usually get through.
2. Things go best when you go by the book – but you have to be using the right book!
3. Having a spirit of contention accomplishes nothing – especially when you are trying to work with the “system”.
4. You can’t help every child, but you can still cry for them.
5. You can’t help every child, but you can still pray for them.
6. Some people know how to fix a broken child, and some people know how to fix a broken system – very few people have the time and talent fix both!
7. You can feel close to God when changing a diaper.
8. Foster Care is the worst paying job in the world.
9. Foster Care is the best paying job in the world.
10. Enjoy the good days when they come – on the bad days, find someone to serve.
11. Kids who’ve had it rough in life need good, strong parenting.
12. Kids who’ve had it rough in life need someone to serve them.
13. Knowing when to be a parent, and when to be a servant brings the greatest joy and success.
This is the one I’m most partial to:
14. Abused kids are used to being yelled at – try using funny voices instead!
15. Never let a child go to bed without a “tuck-in”.
16. A 10 year old who’s never been allowed to be a 10 year old, will not become a 10 year old upon arrival in your home – pick your battles and conquer one behavior at a time.
17. ALWAYS expect that the children will not resemble their “resumes”.
18. Children are more important than furniture.
19. Work as if everything depends on you – Pray as if everything depends on the Lord!
20. The greatest lesson the Lord has ever taught me about fostering children came during a church meeting one Sunday. Our newly arrived, nine year old foster son came in during the meeting and asked me to tie his shoes. My first thought was to scold him for not being able to tie the shoes himself. My next thought was to kneel down and tie them for him. My final thought was – I am kneeling at the feet of the Savior!
21. And since I have still not learned everything, my most recent lesson comes from someone I only recently met. When we ask ourselves why a child had to be born to such an abusive parent, remember that the birth of a child is the keeping of a promise made in heaven.