My heart is incredibly heavy for the children in foster care.
I live in the St. Louis area. There are some affluent, lovely areas in the city, but there are also some really tough areas, places hit hard by crime and poverty. Seemingly every night, there's a story on the news about a parent who does something crazy-abusive to a child. For example, a few weeks ago there was a story of mom who punished her six-year-old daughter (for bed wetting) by bathing her in ice cold water, resulting in hypothermia and hospitalization. What?!? First off, six year old kids wet the bed sometimes. Second, what's the big freaking deal? But apparently, it was a big deal.
Miss E's interim care mother (the mom who had her for a few days until we could go to court for custody) got a call for a baby, an infant, with TWENTY ONE broken bones. How is that even possible?
Another news story. Man gets mad at girlfriends 22 month old son and throws him into the wall. Seriously?
I know, I'm not talking about rational, normal parents here. But I can't help but feel my heart breaking for these precious children.
I cannot imagine someone picking up my infant and throwing her into a wall because she was crying too much. Or shoving my toddler into ice cold waters because she had a pee-accident. Every time I hear a horrifying story, I think, that's a child who needs love, who needs a home, who needs a CHANCE. I put my child's face on that child in the news story, and I immediately want to cry.
This is going to sound crazy to some of you, but about a month ago, I became determined that we would take foster care classes offered in March and open our home to infant and toddler foster children. I know! I have an infant (three months old) and a 2-year-old. Life is already crazy-busy at times. But things kept happening that made me think...why not us?
The more I contemplated foster care, the more I was certain it's for us. For a few days, television shows and songs were talking about foster care. I flipped on the radio one afternoon to hear a Christian band (Mike's Chair) singing "Changing the World": "Something here is wrong/there are children without homes/but we just move along to take care of our own/there's so much suffering right outside our door/a cry so deafening/we just can't ignore." Then I would hear Carrie Underwood sing "Temporary Home." Then I was watching a police show where a young lady was being kicked out a foster home without any of her belongings. And I felt my heart ache and ache and ache.
So I went to my Bible. But everything I was reading didn't say DO IT. Really, God? Seriously?
I flipped through Ecclesiastes and stumbled upon the "season" chapter (3:1-8). To everything there IS a season. Is this our season to do foster care? Then I read Ecc. 7:8, "The patient in spirit is better than the proud is spirit." Was God trying to tell me to shut up and wait instead of getting all full of myself about the good mother I am and could be to other kids? Perhaps this season of my life is to raise and focus on the ones I already have in front of me...
Then I read Matthew 6:33-34 which basically states that we are to seek God first in everything and then everything else will fall into place.
Matthew 7:24-27 talks about the wise building their house (or I take it, our plans) upon the rock (meaning Jesus) while the foolish build their house on the sand (which is easily swept away).
Even good intentions can be built on sand.
Our pastor often talks about the definition of sin. It means "to miss the mark." Sin doesn't always mean outright wrongdoing, intentional wrongdoing, or ill will. Interesting stuff.
It's so easy to miss the mark. When your heart strings are being pulled and pulled and pulled, doesn't that mean, in Nike's words, "Just do it"? Well, no.
The truth is, doing foster care, I strongly believe, is in our future because:
1: I believe WHY NOT? We have a healthy, happy home, a stable environment, space, love, and education. We have the support and love of other foster and adoptive families. We have a great agency to work with.
2: I believe Christians have a duty to stop saying, "I could never do that," and start thinking, "How could I do that?" or "Is God prompting me to do that?" (whatever "that" is). And this is coming from me---Miss Plan Everything Out Perfectly. God never intended, I don't think, for any of us to have pampered, pretty, perfect lives. I do believe, however, that He wants us to have BLESSED lives, and blessings come to us in imperfect, confusing ways sometimes. Somewhere, somehow, we have to put our hearts on the line and our faith into action.
3: We love children. I have never struggled with loving other people's kids. I have worked as a babysitter, nanny, camp class leader, Bible school teaching, ministry coordinator, etc. And each time, I loved those kids with my whole heart, believing in them, caring for them, and giving to them. A child doesn't have to be biologically mine to be "mine."
4: We believe in good ethics. Biological parents have a right to their children. (Now yes, the courts can get really screwed up and make bad decisions...but overall, as a general belief, we believe that children need to have the opportunity to be connected with their biological families). Doing foster care is a way for us to demonstrate our beliefs. The foster care system attempts to reunite biological families.
We have decided we will not do foster care during this season of our lives. And we made sure our reasons were sound, not excuses. I'm not saying "no." I'm saying, "Until." I don't want to "miss the mark" or jump into a season that God hasn't planned for us. I eagerly anticipate the day that we will say "yes" to foster care.
If you are interested in reading more about foster care, I have read a few books on the subject and hope you will, too.
Three Little Words
I pray that you have the courage to say "yes" to whatever God is marinating in your soul.