In my idealistic and glass half-full mindset, I want our fostering stories to end well with healing and with everyone happy. In my fantasy foster scenario, Frank and I take a vulnerable child into our home, love on her for said number of months until she returns home. We teach her about God and how to be a family. This then results in her healing and becoming a productive, happier person who can then confidently navigate this crazy world.
But this has not been our story…
Our first child stayed a mere 23 hours and returned to her dad whom she hadn’t seen in two years in another state. We’ve heard nothing about her since.
Our next placement was a seventeen-year-old mom with her newborn. After seven weeks, she disrupted her placement with us because of her erratic and dangerous behavior, causing her infant to be placed separately from her. Again, we know nothing of her whereabouts or whether that precious baby is still in care.
Our next placement was a thirteen-year-old child of a meth addict and alcoholic mother. She remained with us just three short weeks before she was allowed to return home to her father in a dilapidated trailer. Via her posts on FB we witnessed a downhill slide, which confirmed our fears that returning home was surely not in her best interest. She landed back in foster care.
How have we learned to reconcile what we’re doing with the sometimes, tragic, seemingly “unsuccessful” results we’re experiencing?
Well, I have to admit that at first, I kick and scream and get pretty mad at God. I do not go gently into that night of the unknown. But, once I’ve ranted and am wondering what to do next, I am reminded of two great truths. I lean into them when the trauma and tragedy of foster care loom too large.
The first is God’s sovereignty. If He truly has the whole world in His hands, then He’s got this. I remind myself of terrible situations that I’ve been through, that only with time, was it obvious how He has worked them for good. If I believe that He is in control, then I can believe that He has a plan, yet I may never be privy to how it will work out in the years to come.
I’ve realized He’s writing these children’s stories, and their time in our home is just a short or long chapter, and there’s so much more of the story to come.
The second truth is that God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful. To Him and to the children we serve. That is enough of a struggle day-in day-out as I deal with my own emotional reactions to the lying, crying, whining and general disobedience we often experience. Sometimes I don’t always want to respond in a loving, understanding way to these kids who are coming from hard places. Sometimes my patience runs thin, and I just want them to behave and obey. I forget what they’ve been through. That’s my struggle to be faithful.
And I struggle to love the unlovely – the birth parents of these kids. Herein lies the true test of faithfulness. To love and honor them in spite of the history I know and the hatred they show toward us. Loving your neighbor takes on a whole new perspective when your neighbor acts like your enemy.
Without God, I could never do this fostering thing. He gives me the strength and patience to do what I don’t want to do or don’t want to take the time to do. I thank Him that He doesn’t expect me to be successful, just faithful.
After all, He’s got this!