This weekend, the hubs and I spent two full days in training. Two full days discussing, learning, and filling out paperwork, all so our family can become a bridge resource home. In normal words, we are going to be a foster family. After all of the information this weekend, we have decided that we are doing the equivalent of jumping off a cliff. At one point, we were asked to write down one question we still had about foster care. I wrote, “Are we crazy?”
So many questions have been asked by family and friends. I thought it would be appropriate to answer them here, in the hopes that they might provide a glimpse into our hearts.
“Have you thought about what it will do to your own kids?”
Though I know that question is being asked from a place of love and concern, the sarcasm monster rears its ugly head in my brain with that question. The smart aleck in me says, “Nooooo, we never thought about our bio kids when making this decision. I’m sure it will be a cake walk for them!” But, then reasonableness takes over, and I recognize what this question is really asking, “How will this affect your kids?”
The answer to that is tough. We have spent hours talking with each other and the kids about what changes we can expect for our family. We have talked about the joys we will have, and we have talked about the problems that we will run into along the way. Our daughter has a fairly realistic view of what we are stepping into. She is excited and apprehensive, a bit like her momma. Our son is young and just excited at the thought of possibly having another boy in the home.
Before we completed our home study, we had an honest discussion with our kids. We made a commitment as to what our limits are as a family. We know what we will accept, and what we cannot accept. We also know that despite our best efforts, there will be challenges. We believe God is big enough to walk us through those challenges.
“What if you have to give them back?”
Dear friends, that is the goal, to give them back. Steve and I firmly believe that the best place for children is with their biological family, if at all possible. We believe mentoring bio parents and loving their kids until reunification can lead to reconciliation of families. We know it will be difficult work. We know we will work with families very different from ours. We know we will struggle with emotions of anger, frustration, and sadness. We know we will be coming face to face with brokenness, every day.
I had a sweet friend ask me, “If you knew you would only have your son for a year or two when he was born, would you have still had him?” My response was, “Of course, he’s my son!” “It’s the same thing,” she said. “We don’t know how long we get them. We just have to love them while they are here.” We think God is big enough for that, too.
“Can you handle more kids?”
This one makes me laugh, because honestly, there are days when I would tell you, “No! No more kids!” The days when they drive me crazy. The days they fight. The days I wonder why there is pee on the wall in the bathroom!
But, then there are all of those thousands of moments, when I’m hugging them, snuggled up next to them, or just watching them play. I think about all of those kids, approximately 400,000 nationwide, who are in limbo. Who’s futures are uncertain, because they are in the foster care system. And, I think, “Someone should be snuggled up to them, telling them they are worthy, and just watching them play.”
I look at my husband, who is a walking testament to the power that loving families can have in the life of a child. Not a day goes by when I don’t recognize the way the Morris’ saved him. They could have said, “We have too many kids!” They could have said, “He’s too broken.” But they didn’t. They took him in and loved him just as he was. Without that sacrifice of love, Steve and I would have no love story. Our family would never exist. The world would never get to see our daughter’s amazing creativity, or our son’s ability to make everyone smile. They would not be here.
So, on days when I don’t think I can handle anymore kids, God gently reminds me every time I glance at my husband, “Yes, you can.”
As for all of the other questions, I don’t have the answers right now. But, I do humbly, have a few requests. Know that we will be hard to hang around sometimes. We will be taking care of kids that have endured trauma, and trying to create a “normal” family life for bio and foster kids alike. There will undoubtably be behaviors, tantrums, and awkward conversations. Please be patient with us. Please listen to us without judgement when we need to vent. At some point, I will probably say something like, “I just can’t do this.” Please offer an ear, a shoulder, or let’s be honest, a glass of red wine. Sometimes, we will just need to talk out our hurts. But above all, please pray for us. Pray that we know what to do and say in all of those moments when we don’t know what to do and say. Pray for our bio kids, that in the hard moments they understand the massive love we have for them, and the importance of the work that we (our family) is doing.
Through all of this, we know God is able. We know this cliff looks so high, and the fall will be tremendous. But at the bottom, we have faith that waters of healing will be plentiful, and joy indescribable waits.