“Come sit down,” my husband said for the 26th time that night. It was nearing midnight and I was anxiously peering out the peephole of our front door. How could he be so calm in a moment like this?! We were about to meet our first child and he wants me to sit down! He has a way with rationality. Apparently the car won’t actually pull into our driveway any faster if I’m looking out the peephole or sitting on the couch. Anyways, at the door I stood.
The car eventually pulled into our driveway and two Officers of Social Services carried a car seat with a newborn baby girl out into the night and straight into our hearts. My life was about to change in ways I didn’t yet understand.
I made a “deal” with God, you see. I would love any child He brings into our lives unconditionally and He would protect me from the “heartbreak” of a relationship with birthparents.
Yeah – right.
We had Baby A for approximately 21 minutes when the CPS officer handed me the phone number for Baby A’s mom and told me she’s expecting a call tonight. I’m sure he noticed the obvious deer in headlights look on my face so he gently told me, “she’s scared too.”
I have this sign hanging above the window in our kitchen that reads, “If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”
Well I did make that call to reassure Baby A’s mom that she was here and she’d be taken care of. A short 3 days later I found myself walking into my very first visit holding Baby A in my arms and handing her to her mom for her scheduled visitation. I monitored that visit and would continue to monitor for the rest of the time Baby A was in our home.
God refined my heart through this hard experience.
It’s doesn’t take much work to take the easy road. Profound, I know.
Where I thought I’d rather save myself the pain of knowing Baby A’s mom I would have lost the experience of creating an irreplaceable relationship with a girl that now looks up to me as a mom. I learned it wasn’t about me, but was about them – not about what I would lose, but what they would gain. This is a lesson that stretches far beyond foster care, although I’ve had the difficult opportunity to learn this lesson more than a couple times as a foster mom.
So often we jump to our own conclusion about how things should go – how they’ll work best. This can be so dangerous for ourselves, and ultimately for our faith.
God doesn’t promise us a life without pain, He just promises to walk through the pain with us.
Sometimes those painful moments are the most refining moments.
I’d be lying if I said that forming a relationship with Baby A’s family was easy. It took more patience than I had, more work then I expected, and in all honesty, she didn’t really like me at first. God pushed me to stick it out. A short five months later I knew why. I had formed an amazing relationship with this family and on a Thursday night at 7pm, Ryan and I drove to the same parking lot we had met every week for five months and handed Baby A to her mom for the last time. We all cried and one mom drove home with the baby she worked to get back while the other mom drove home with an empty car seat.
Ryan and I drove home in silence that night and, as expected, we were hurting. It was a bittersweet hurt. We were so happy for this family but we were, once again, childless and left without control of these feelings of loss. We raised and loved this baby as our own and she was now gone. The human side of me felt this loss deep in my bones.
Foster care is not about us. It’s about giving to others in their time of need. This being said, you pour 110% of your heart and soul into these kids and, if you are able, into their family. In the end it goes one of two ways – adoption or reunification. As much as we loved Baby A we also loved her mom and rooted for and supported this mama’s efforts during the entire 5 months.
I love our kids fiercely, but this love isn’t even close to the love the Father has for His children. He loves Baby A more than I ever could have. He loves her family, and He loves the mama that handed that baby girl over that night.
He loves my broken heart whole again.
In my weakness and in my sadness, He loves me and carries me through.
Sisters, He mends our broken heart.
Three weeks later, my phone rang again and we said a prayer over the newest little life in our home. As I rocked this precious girl to sleep that night I was reminded that He is the Healer of brokenness. Through brokenness, Minnie came into our lives and we’ll love her without bounds, regardless of what tomorrow might bring. Hopefully, that love will teach her of the love of Christ – the love of the only one that will never, ever, fail her.
He is good. Always.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
May is foster care awareness month. There are so many ways to involve yourself with the foster youth in your area. Whether you have an hour to give, a day, or forever, there is an opportunity to help those that need your love the most. As always, please reach out if you need help connecting to these opportunities.