Friday, February 27, 2015

Three Years of Fostering

Today marks three years of being licensed foster parents. We could not have known on February 27, 2012 where this road would take us. Its been filled with challenges and blessings, tears and smiles, sins and forgiveness, selfishness and selflessness, questions and answers, compassion and judgments. We've made plenty of mistakes along the way, most of them of the "rookie" variety, but God has always been faithful.

In honor of this day, I'm reposting a piece I wrote on the one-year anniversary of bringing our first foster child, "Z" to live with us. We've had two long-term placements and 11 respite kids, staying for various lengths of time.

April 10th.  I wonder if this day will always be meaningful, or if the significance of it will fade over time.

It marks the day Z, our very first foster child, moved into our house.  It was a day that caught us by surprise in some regards, which we would later learn is par for the course in these dealings.

We officially were licensed on February 27.  On February 28 we got a call that there was a 9-year old boy in need of a place.  Oh, and he also had 1 and 4-year old siblings who would be coming once Z got settled and adjusted.

I sat down and took some deep breaths of prayer, then called Shaun at work.  Shaun didn't really hesitate...there was a need, we were able to fill it, what's the discussion?  One of the million reasons I love him.  We did, of course, discuss it, as it was bound to have a major impact on our family and was certainly more than we'd signed up for, but his heart has always been "to whom much is given much is required" and "freely you have received, freely give".

We first went to the safe home on March 20 where Z'd been staying since January.  We met him, talked with the various professionals involved in his case and made the decision that he would be a good fit for us.

The agency we are with is very big on making a placement stick, so there is a due process involved before a child comes to live in the home.  First is the initial meeting, then several "out in the community" outings, then a visit to our home, then an overnight, then a weekend, then the transition happens.

All this happened in the middle of tax season AND the safe home was a 45-minute drive from our home.  It was also around Easter, so we were neck deep in Passion rehearsals and performances.  It was, um....intense.

We'd been pressing the powers that be to move along this transition process, get him out of the safe home and into ours.  We really didn't want him to be there longer than he already had been.  It looked like they would be stretching it out longer, but out of nowhere, on the morning of the 10th, we got the email that it was ok to bring him home.  I remember that (crazy!!) day well, mostly because it happened to be a 10 on 10 day and I have it all recorded.

Remarkably, a year has passed!  It was busier and more full than I had ever previously thought life could be.

We went through (are going through) a learning curve with all things Department of Children & Families and our agency.  Unexpectedly, the administration part of having Z is a part-time job...meetings, emails, phone calls, paperwork, meetings, transportation, supervised visits.

Its been a year of learning and growing for all of us.  Some days are really hard, especially the ones when I turn the focus on ME and my selfishness.  Dozens, maybe hundreds of times, I've had to remind myself, this is NOT about me.  Nearly all of my hurt, frustration and anger can be snuffed out with that fresh knowledge.

It is a painful process to die to yourself.  Painful, and seemingly continual (at least for me), but it is what  Jesus has asked of us and I'm convinced its the only way to truly be happy and fulfilled.

Then Jesus said to all of them, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me."  Luke 9:23

The kids accepted their brother and this unorthodox lifestyle almost immediately and after some innocent, legitimate and awkward questions (Z, why are you wearing those clothes again?) they settled into their new life.

A roller coaster is the best way to describe the journey.  There are some high times, some low times and many jerks around a corner we didn't see (I speak as if I ride real life roller coasters...I don't...just metaphorical ones :).

So much, we've discovered is completely out of our control, which is challenging when you fight it, not so much when you recognize the bureaucracy that is the state and that its not going away anytime soon and you just make up your mind to go with it.

The deal with his siblings is so sad...there are so many things we shake our heads at and wonder why, the fact that they are not all together is among the top.  We've relied on the knowledge that God is ALWAYS good, ALWAYS faithful and we can trust Him.

When I'm crying out to God and asking for forgiveness for the sins in my heart I also sometimes say I told you so.  I told you I'm not a kid person.  I told you I'm selfish and judgmental.  I told you I would get too frustrated with the system.  I told you I'm not an overly loving or compassionate person.  I gave you the list of reasons why I should be disqualified for the the job of foster mom and you ignored it.

But then He gently reminds me that He didn't choose me because I came with a glowing resume or because of my credentials.  He simply chose me because I dared to trust Him.  In that way, He gets the glory, and I love that.

We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw hecouldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”  Romans 4:17-18

And so, today is certainly with mixed emotions as our family recognizes this mark in time.  But for sure, my overriding feeling is one of thankfulness.  Thankful to have followed that initial tug God placed in our hearts, thankful for the work He continues to do in our hearts and especially for the undeserved love and grace He pours out to us daily, even sometimes moment by moment.


sara said...

you have such a big heart! I think of all the changes in my life this year, having to step out of foster care is the one that has hurt the most. I miss it.

The Bug said...

It seems like just yesterday that you brought Z home, and then again, yesterday that you had to let him go again...