When we first became foster/adopt parents many years ago, we didn’t have any bio children. We didn’t have any children at all. It seemed acceptable to want to take this path toward parenting. Well, maybe not acceptable, but tolerable.
Now we have six children, five in our home. Five, aged six and under. There seems to be a great deal of concern for their safety. Please don’t hear that I am not concerned about how fostering will affect my children. Of course we are concerned. There is a mighty long list of things I am concerned about when it comes to my children. That list includes things like the semi-busy street we live on, the medications my son with ADHD takes, bullies at the playground, too much tv, too little nutrition, nightmares, whether or not the baby is breathing when she is in her crib at night, and on and on and on. I am not completely disregarding the effects this giant change in our family will have on my children. We are praying for wisdom and we move forward gradually, talking as a family as we go.
Here’s the thing though…my son can’t live with the reality that there are children who live in shelters and group homes. His little heart is broken by the truth that there are brothers and sisters, just like his family, who can’t live together because no one is willing to take them all. He asks me why we still have an empty bedroom. In fact, his compassionate heart is the reason we’re here at all.
The Lord called us to care for the children in foster care many years ago. We’ve always known the need and for the past four years, we’ve declared our inability, our unwillingness to jump back into the chaos that is foster care. We’ve made our excuses and we’ve told God that there was no way we could handle the heartache again. We talk and talk and talk, but neither of us had the courage to move forward, knowing what we know about how much it will hurt. And then…
After a conversation Man #1 had with a sweet friend at church one morning, he stewed in his new knowledge. She told him that she had a new brother. This little guy didn’t come out of her mommy’s tummy though. He had a different set of parents, ones who weren’t able to care for him properly. So her mommy and daddy were going to take care of this new little guy for a while so he wouldn’t be alone. Man #1 thought and thought, being our most introspective child. And then he spoke.
“Mom, did you know there are kids who don’t have parents?”
“Yes buddy, I did know that.”
“Mom, why aren’t we doing anything about it?”
And that was the beginning of the end. The end of making excuses. The end of guarding our hearts and our homes from the calling of the Lord.
My children will face difficulty in life. There will be trials. There will be pain. There will be loss. I can’t shelter them from these things, nor do I want to. I want to teach them how to respond in the storm. Compassion. Love. Joy. Longsuffering. Bearing burdens.
It turns out, the best way to teach these things is to do them. My sweet son is leading the charge. We’ve been as honest as we can about the reality of taking in children from hard places. He doesn’t care. He isn’t deterred. He can’t understand why we would turn away from hurting kids when we clearly have the resources to provide them with all they need. He wants to share his parents, his home, and his heart.
What about my children, you ask? Well, my children want to know what happens to the lost and broken children. They want to know what we’re going to do about it.
I dare you to suggest to these brothers that we ought to hide from a challenge. They might end up asking you what YOU plan to do?