It was well over a year ago that Dan and I began our Foster Care journey. To be honest, we had absolutely NO clue what we were getting ourselves in to. All I know is that I could not shake the calling that God had laid on my heart. After all, why would any sane person want to add more children to their already large family? I know many (or many even most) of you think we are crazy and plain stupid for doing this. We just moved across the country. We have a very small support system. We surely don’t have endless amounts of money to pour into feeding more kids. It just doesn’t really make any sense why God would be asking us to do this. I have had to check my heart so many times within this process to make sure that I wasn’t “doing” foster care for the wrong reasons. We don’t want/need any attention from it. We certainly don’t make a profit from having foster children. We aren’t looking to adopt, but our hearts are open to the idea if it was ever an option. We don’t need to fill the void of having children or having foster children to further ourselves socially or career-wise in any way. It doesn’t’ really make any sense to me either when thinking about why God has called us to this journey. All I wanna say right now is…I didn’t sign up for this.
We have been around people who have fostered children. We were told the system is broken and messy. We went to the classes and have taken hours and hours of online modules full of information. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew it wasn’t going to be fair. We knew we were dealing with broken people in a broken world, but we also knew going into this that God was in control.
I desperately wish that I could give you all the details of our journey so you would be able to understand the roller coaster we have been on. The story of these foster children is not mine to tell so I can’t tell their story, but I can share my heart and my story thus far.
I didn’t sign up….to fall in love. When we first received J & J (our foster girls) my heart was guarded. They are not my children and they will eventually leave our family. In my naive thinking I thought we would be able to care for these sweet girls and keep a guarded heart. I have told their mama before that I am not their mommy and I am just here to care for them until they are placed safely back in her arms. Well, it is virtually impossible to have children in your home for an extended period of time and not fall in love with them. I had to let my guard down and let my heart love them. I know they are not mine but that doesn’t stop my heart from loving them. What came next in my journey was something I didn’t expect at all.
I didn’t sign up….to care this much. They teach you in the foster care classes that you have little to no communication with the parent of the foster children. It isn’t expected of you and I would almost say they are very cautious to let Bio Parent/Foster Parent relationships develop from past experiences. In the beginning part of this placement with J & J, I thought it would be a good idea to try and meet their mama. Again, without going into detail, our first meeting didn’t go how I had planned it to go. I almost let one “bad” encounter change the course of our journey. I let my flesh take over and decided to take the easy way out. We called placement and asked for the girls to be placed with another family. After all, we didn’t “need” to be doing this. Ha. Was I wrong or what? If I would have taken the time to pray and talk to God first, like I eventually did, I would have never doubted His plan. I ended up having a meeting with the Bio Mom and poured my heart out to her. I showed her pictures of her girls. I told her where they sleep and what they like to do. I held her as she cried on my shoulder and she thanked me for caring for her girls while she worked on her case plan. We have had the girls for almost 6 months now and not only have I fallen in love with these sweet girls, but I have fallen love with there mama too. I can’t fix the situation for the girls or their mama, but I can care and love people who haven’t felt cared or loved for in a really long time. After our first interaction together I would have never guessed that God would have brought healing to my heart and a deep desire to care so much about their mama. I’m not saying all is perfect, but I am so thankful that I gave her another chance. Without forgiveness and self reflection, I could have lost out on amazing growth in my own heart and lost out on more of the journey.
I didn’t sign up…to have a newborn. This past week has by far been one of the most confusing and heartbreaking parts so far of our journey. With very little warning or confirmation we were called on Wednesday while sitting at Cocoa Beach, almost 3 hours away, that our newborn foster baby was ready to be discharged from the hospital. We had just set up our beach spot and had met up with our dear friends form WI. Surely God wouldn’t ask us to do this right at that very minute. Dan and I found ourselves in a heated debate on the beach about what to do and before I knew it, I was in the van headed to the hospital. I left him at the beach with no car and no plan. I figured I had 3 hours to figure out what to do and how to get him and most of my children back home. On the way to the hospital, I successfully ordered a car seat and arranged for it to get picked up and taken to the hospital for me by my daughter and her boyfriend. Dan found a rental car and would drive himself and the kids back home after they had their beach day. I had a friend offer to bring her pack ‘n play over and felt as prepared as anyone could for a newborn baby without planning for one. I will never forget walking into that hospital room and seeing her sweet face for the first time. She was not my baby, but I instantly fell in love. Every mommy instinct I had fell right back into place. I knew exactly what to do and what questions to ask. I buckled that tiny baby into the car seat and walked out of the hospital with a heart that was so full but at the same time was aching for the mommy and daddy. It’s a lot of pressure in itself to have a newborn, but imagine having to care for someone else’s newborn baby. Now that is a lot of pressure. It seemed so surreal that all of a sudden we were being asked to care for this sweet baby but I didn’t care, she already had my heart. She was up most of the night and finally at 5am Dan asked me if I wanted him to take her so I could get some rest. I probably slept for 2-3 hours that night and looking back, I wish I would have stayed awake for those few hours to snuggle her more. The next morning we got the call that our sweet newborn perfect baby that had stolen my heart was going to go be with her daddy. I so desperately didn’t want to give her up, but she was never mine to begin with. First and foremost, she is a child of God. He knows every hair on her head and how amazing she is going to be when she grows up. He knew that she needed to be with her Daddy and not with me. I had an internal battle with myself to make sure I wasn’t operating out of selfishness in wanting to keep her…and to be honest, a little bit of me was. From the beginning of our journey I have been praying and begging God for a newborn baby to love and care for. I adore babies and that is possibly why we had so many so close together! I truly felt that after years of God knowing the desires of my heart to care for a newborn that He was finally answering my prayers. However, this sweet baby was placed back into the arms of her daddy where I know she will be loved and well cared for. I am confident that God will still use me in whatever way He chooses with her and I am her biggest prayer warrior right now! I gave a little piece of my heart back with her when I handed her back to her family, but I am ok with that. I never thought I could love someone not of my own flesh and blood in an instant and boy was I wrong.
There is so much uncertainty in the world right now and I don’t know how to process it all. I am grieving with the baby’s mom as she has carried this child in her body for 9 months but cannot hold her in her arm right now. I am rejoicing with the baby’s dad as he gets to experience all the “firsts” of having a newborn baby. I am aching in my own heart as I don’t have a baby to rock in my arms right now that I so desperately wanted to have. I am confused as to why God created me that way He did but also so thankful He gave me a heart to care so passionately about other people. I know I can’t change other people or make them do or be things they aren’t ready or willing to do or be. However, that is exactly how God looks at me a lot of the time if I am really being honest. How many times do I not do what He wants me to do? How many times do I not loved that way He has called me to love? How many times have I not offered grace the way He extends grace to me time and time again?
God called us to Foster Care for this very reason. To love children that need to be loved. To love people who feel like they don’t deserve to be loved. To love itty bitty newborn babies that need to be loved and held for just one night. To care more about others and to put their needs before ours. I am sorry that I can’t share all the details as this would all probably make more sense if I did…
I didn’t sign up for this…but God knew exactly what He was signing us up for and as long as my eyes are focused on Him, all is gonna be ok. What is God asking you to “sign up” for? What has been heavy on your heart and you keep pushing it down? I encourage you to pray about He might be asking of you. Without pressing into what God was laying on my heart for years, I would have missed out on the opportunity to rock a newborn for just one night which I will never forget and will forever leave an imprint on my heart. Use your hands to help someone. Use your feet to go somewhere (well, maybe after the quarantine). Use your heart to love someone that maybe hasn’t felt loved by someone in a long time. Use you money to help someone in need. Use your mouth to encourage someone. Use the body God gave you to make a difference in a world that is broken.
I wish I would have taken more pictures and I wish I could show you just how adorable our foster girls are…but I can’t. So when the quarantine is over, you have an open invitation to see in person for yourself just how adorable they are!