Everything about Foster Care is difficult. Heart-breaking. Messy.
[And I haven’t even had a placement yet!]
But Foster Families choose it anyways. Not because we think we ourselves have it all together, or because we think we can handle it. Because we don’t (no one does) and can’t (only with Him do we even try).
We do it because the alternative is to pretend we aren’t being called to this. To ignore the numbers…the over 437,000 youth in US foster care. Once you start down the path to become foster carers, it is hard to turn back. Trust me, at times I wanted to. Because, this is not going to be easy. But I cannot un-learn or un-hear what I have learned and heard.
As a new foster parent “in waiting”, the most difficult assignment I have had so far was to write a personal letter to the parents of children who may be placed in our home. I sat at my computer unaware of the emotions about to well up inside me (and eventually pour out of me). What started as just another thing to check off the long Fostering To-Do List, turned into a heart-breaking experience.
Because what do you possibly say to parents experiencing the worst days of their lives? To parents being told they can no longer parent their own child, from their own womb? To parents being told “here, read this letter” (from the parents we have chosen for your child because of your present inability to parent them)?
Needless to say, I stared at a blank page for quite some time. Then, I typed and….held down the backspace until I was back to square 1.
Blank. No words. Because foster care is hard. And messy. And not at all a part of God’s original plan for family.
But since I had to turn in the assignment COMPLETE, blank was not an option. So I typed with tears welling up in my eyes, clouding my view of the screen. And I’m still not satisfied with my letter. But I won’t ever be, because in this whole world there are no right combinations of words to make any parent feel better about losing their child to foster care. No words to make any of this any better.
Oh how I dream of the day families are not broken, the day “bio parents” is not terminology needed, the day God’s design for family is the norm and children are not caught in the middle of sin and turmoil.
The truth is though, we are all flawed.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
So here are a couple excerpts from my letter- from one sinful mother to another. No judgment. Because I do not know what chains-biological, chemical, relational, financial, generational-weigh her down from being who God designed her to be.
We’d like to take this opportunity to share some information about our family, in the hopes that getting to know us some will ease your mind a bit about who is caring for your child & provide some comfort knowing that they are in loving hands and being cared for and nurtured. But first, we want you to know that we love and support you as well and want to do anything we can to help partner with you in strengthening your family during this very difficult time in your lives.
…. [I went on to explain our family dynamics and routines]
We feel honored to be able to be a part of your family’s story and pray that God blesses you and brings strength and healing to your family. Know that for as long as we care for your child they will be treated as we treat our own, with love, and that we will be devoted to providing a warm, happy home where your child will know they are loved, nurtured, and protected & where they can learn, grow, and explore.
The ***** Family
As I re-read the entirety of what was “submitted” to our social worker, I have some critiques of my own.
For one, I am sure she will NOT be honored that I am a part of her family’s story. I bet she wishes she never had to meet me quite honestly…the “other mother”. The mother “doing it right” when she is being told all the ways she falls short of meeting her child’s needs. But what I hope all the parents of the children who enter our home come to realize is that we are here to help, not to judge. We are not perfect either. And we are NOT here to take their children away from them. We want more than anything to see reunification and healing. To see God restore their lives and lead them all to Him.
I believe in a God capable of the impossible. And I pray that He uses our family in this ministry of fostering to draw others closer to Him. To THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS.
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
“‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)