I thought that he or she would have been here already . . .
I thought that maybe the little darlin’ would arrive just before Thanksgiving, just in time to be welcomed by the beautiful fall decor I had displayed for the season.
Brightly colored pumpkins, warm wreaths, and brilliantly colored mums all joined in a chorus – prepared to welcome the heart of a little child.
Emotionally, I had been holding my breath . . . hoping that the mums would live long enough to whisper “Welcome Home” Little One . . .
And then they died.
The fall season has come and gone and now the season of Christmas is upon us – the season of Advent . . . the season of waiting.
Once again, I’ve decked my halls with boughs of holly, festive poinsettias, happy snow men, Christmas bells and nativity sets . . .
And still, we wait.
While the world is commemorating the arrival of the Christ child, I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of our forever (foster) child.
I am pregnant with anticipation. I am filled with joy. I am cautiously optimistic.
We trained for this. My husband and I sat in classes for hours on end for this. We bore our souls in meetings to strangers for this.
We gave caseworkers tours of our home for this . . . let social services into every nook and cranny of our lives for this.
We are “ready”.
And still, we wait.
Sometimes, when I walk the floor in the stillness of the day, I remind myself that at any moment, “this” will all change . . . this life that we now live and know.
A little stranger will come into our home – afraid, angry, and alone. And we are all supposed to make nice and play well together.
I will have to be emotionally stronger than ever and wiser than ever, all in an effort to give this child the home away from home that he or she needs in thier time of crisis.
What made my husband and I think that we could do this?
We wanted to adopt, but the costs were astronomical. My husband was open to the idea of fostering, but I was not certain that I was a “catch and release” kind of mom.
I wasn’t certain that I could fall in love with a child for years on end, and then possibly have him taken away; but we knew that we had to do something. And we knew there was a good chance – a God chance – that some of these kids would end up becoming our own.
That sounds so terrible! – to envision that a parent’s rights are terminated and we end up inheriting their child. And truthfully, I do not wish that at all, but I know that it will eventually happen. A parent will lose. A child will lose. And I will “win” by default.
Honestly . . . maybe we all loose and we all win?
A parent will lose a child, but have the awareness that their child was placed in a loving home.
A child will lose their birth parents, but gain parents who want them wholly and fully.
I will give a permanent, loving home to a child who would otherwise float around in the system.
This is the tragedy of foster care. This is the hope of foster care. This is the world we live in.
Truth is, this world is broken. People are sinners. Parents are flawed – and fail their children. Some of us pay a bigger price for our failure than others.
And I’m the first person to say: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” — John Bradford
We are all pregnant with sweet expectation . . .
We are all waiting for him or her to arrive.
My two youngest children think that the arrival of this child will be like the joy one experiences on Christmas morning. One says, “When will she be here, Mommy?” The other: “Mommy, I want my little brother already.”
I’m careful to remind them that a child being placed in our home means heartache and sadness for that child.
I remind them that the goal of foster care is for the child to be reunited with her birth parent(s).
I’m careful to explain that God knows exactly who to place in our home, so we will eventually be able to adopt one (or some) of the children.
But what I don’t have the nerve to tell my two youngest is what my husband and I were told in our foster care licensing class.
When we first began the class I was gung-ho on taking in kids, but as the class sessions progressed I quickly learned that this child’s placement in our home could take our family from DEFCON 5 (which I was fully prepared to accept) to DEFCON 1 (Oh no! I don’t think so!).
One of the class goals was to fully prepare parents for the realities that lie ahead – by giving us some worst case scenarios – all in an effort to reduce the risk of us calling our agency in the future and saying, “I can’t do this. Please come and get this child!”
You can see how that would ruin a child – causing them to feel like they are unwanted and disposable. It’s one of the very reasons why some choose not to bond with their new foster family, because they are waiting for the other “I no longer want you…you are disposable” proverbial foot to drop.
That is a type of abuse in and of itself.
Well, our teacher/trainer was so thorough and so convincing that she convinced me right out of the idea of fostering!
She had successfully weeded out another wanna-be foster parent . . . ME!
I wanted to drop out of the class, but I was too embarrassed for my husband and I to be “that couple” who didn’t make it. We had been warned that the class ranks would thin out as the sessions progressed. Oh, my pride! So, we persevered until the completion; but in my heart, I knew that I would not accept a placement.
I was completely terrified!
I knew in my heart that I simply could not handle the scenarios that the teacher/trainer was referencing. I was not up to the task. I was ill equipped.
So I walked around with my new unconfessed secret: that I wasn’t up to fostering children; only admitting the truth to my husband and a dear couple at our church, who were foster parents.
It took a while before the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart and straightened me out. He had me to realize that I was right: I could not do it! I was not up to the task!
If I were to go forward with fostering a child and possibly have him turn my family’s life inside-out and upside-down, I would have to do it in His strength and in His might. Not my own!
That was a light bulb moment for me.
A game changing moment.
I don’t presume to know the mind of God (other than what’s been written in the Bible), but I don’t believe that God has called my husband and I to foster and adopt children because we are equipped to do the job, but rather, that He will equip us because He’s called us.
And so we wait . . . we wait for that blessed call.
I am happy and joyful once again; full of expectation – no longer fearful.
I spend my time wondering if this sweet little child will fit into our loud and boisterous home, if he will like sleeping in a bunk-bed, and hoping (s)he doesn’t mind joining the line for our bathroom. #largefamilyliving
My home will once again swell with children. It’s basically bursting from the seams; even still, it matches the status of our hearts: full of joy and anticipation for the Christ child, and for our forever child . . . while we wait.
I’ve shared this post at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.