There isn’t a right answer here. There isn’t a side to be had. There is just a story. Our story. How God spoke to us. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t speak differently to different people. But here is how we fell into the hardest and most beautiful journey of our lives…
When David and I started dating seriously I told him that if we were to ever get married he’d have to be open to adoption. I had known since I was a little girl that I would adopt some day. He had never imagined having a family in this way, so he honestly responded and asked for some time to think about it, A few months later he gifted me a book called Loved by Choice. In it he wrote a note that said he was in. I wonder if he had any idea?
Fast forward eight or so years, we are married, we have had Tre, and decided that we will pursue adoption to grow our family from here on out. I had always imagined our family as a tribe, from all nations, and colors, and thus we began our pursuit with international adoption. Through a series of events and God stories, we found ourselves sitting in our county’s Human Services offices and being trained as foster parents. A few months later we received our first placement, twin two year old boys.
Through the next three years nine children found a home within our hearts. Some of them were there for a few minutes (literally), some for a few weeks, others for a few months, and three stayed forever. These years were marked with a roller coaster of emotion, I wrote about our experiences, as much as I could without breaking confidentiality rules on our family blog. You can read some of our experiences here and here. And find many more there as well.
Now, when we look back on those years. And people ask why? Why should we sign up for loving kids who go back? Why should we say yes to foster care? Here are some of the things I say:
- A lot of people say, “I could never do that! I could never love a kid and then “give them back!” And I say, YOU are who we need in foster care. Kids deserve to be loved that way. Whether they go home or not. They deserve forever love, whether it is for two days or two years, they need it. And we need people who will give them that. The only way we can help heal kids and families is if we have people who will go all in with them. Who will sacrifice their emotions, their peace, their finances, and security, their time, and their safety, for kids and families who need us. As Father Boyle puts it, “The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather standing in the right place- with the outcast and those relegated to the margins…. Jesus just stood with the outcasts until they were welcomed or until He was crucified- whichever came first.”
Yes, it is the absolute hardest thing we’ve ever done. Yes it’s awful when kids go home. But no one ever told me that doing the right thing is easy. Sometimes the best thing is the hardest thing to do, and it is exactly where you find the richest blessing and fulfillment, and where you realize what you were made for.When we look back on our time as foster parents we see such a sweet season, a season in which we felt closest to God, we had an amazing support team surround us and help us. And we found beauty in kinship with people we never would have been blessed to call our friends if we hadn’t have done this.
- Foster care helps you find the pulse of your community. When you care for- and care with- the marginalized and broken in your community- you realize that you are them. That we are one. “You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until the behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear. ” (Father Gregors Boyle, again.)
- There. Are. So. Many. Kids. in your neighborhood, who need your help. In our small county there are over 40 kids waiting to be adopted. And over 1,000 children in foster care here. Check out the needs in your community. Yes, it’s a broken system. Yes you will get screwed over. But we couldn’t turn our back on the kids and families that we could help. We didn’t change the system, but we did change the lives of a few kids. And that is worth all of the injustices and brokenness that we experienced.
- Lastly, people who have biological children are always concerned for their biological children. I can honestly say that Tre
has been shaped and formed with a heart for people, and brokeness, a heart for compassion and understanding unlike many kids his age, and it is because of his experience as a foster brother to many. And guess what, kids only know what you tell them! We always told Tre that kids would come and stay with us while their parents were working hard to make safe homes and families, so they could go home. And when kids went home, Tre was so happy for them. he knew what it was like to be loved and be in a safe home, and he wanted that for them too. He did better than any of us!
Everyone isn’t suppose to do foster care. But if you are thinking about adoption, and/or helping children in your community, I urge you to consider foster care. It will be the hardest thing you ever do, I am not saying it isn’t. But I do believe that Jesus calls us to develop kinship and stand with (not for) the broken.