I’ve been pretty quiet about foster care lately. We have actually had several phone calls from caseworkers lately that were cases we could say “yes!” to, and we did. Which honestly felt great to actually be saying “yes,” to something because for awhile it felt like every case we received a phone call about were cases we had to say “no” to.
Only problem is, when you say “yes” in foster care it still doesn’t mean a child is going to show up at your house that afternoon. It just means you are saying “yes, we are willing to take this child in,” but what you don’t understand when you aren’t walking the road of foster care, is that many other agencies are all reaching out to their own foster families who could be a match for this particular child at the same time our agency was calling us. So it really becomes a race against the clock….whichever agency finds a family that matches this child’s description, and gets that family to say “yes” wins. Well….not really wins, but from my seat as a spectator that is what it often times feels like.
The first few times we said “yes,” my heart was beating faster. I was waiting in anticipation to hear back from our caseworker. I was envisioning what our supper table would look like that night with one extra face sitting around it. I was wondering how hard the first few weeks might be. How much sleep will I lose? Juggling around schedules in my head of how we would make this next season work, and right about the time when I was coming to a place of peace with it all, I would get a phone call back from our caseworker saying “The county chose another family.”
It kind of feels like a big punch to the gut.
So I would mentally shut the door in my brain to knowing that child was no longer a possibility for being a part of our family, and would pray for trust in God’s timing for the child He had chosen for us.
Until the next call…then I did it all over again.
Two weeks ago our caseworker reached out about a child we will call “L” (for privacy purposes), whose parents rights had been terminated so she was legally free for adoption. I started sobbing when I received the email with information about “L.” The ups and downs of foster care are no joke, and a huge part of the hardness in it all are ALL the unknowns that as a foster parents we have absolutely no control over. One day the county rules for increased visitations for a child that has been placed with you, and you know how hard the shorter visits have been for this child, let alone increasing the length of time and frequency, but you are at the mercy of the county to have to follow the rules, and do what they say even if your instinct as a parent would choose something completely different for them. To know that “L’s” parental rights had been terminated meant that it would be a much shorter road to get from point A to point Z to actually adopt her. That’s one of the reasons why I was sobbing….the thought of potentially not having to go through all of that was relieving. The other reason why was because this time I had a picture of her, and a name….often times when you receive phone calls for placements you don’t even get a name before you say “yes.” They tell you age, gender, and pertinent information, but very few details before they are placed with you. I saw her sweet face, and now not only did I envision another person around our dinner table, and in a bed in our home, but she had a name, and I knew what she looked like!
We said “yes” to submitting our profile to “L’s” caseworker, and even though I knew better by this point, I got my hopes up, only to find out within hours that her caseworker didn’t think our family would be a good fit due to our biological children being so young, and the attention she would probably need. I literally had just told a few of my closest friends, and then worked up the guts to tell the girls in my bible study, only to find out minutes afterward that our answer had come quickly….
“L” would not be joining our family.
That time it felt like a much larger punch to the gut.
You see, my heart breaks a little bit each time our “yes” turns into a “no.” Knowing that more often than not, the “no” is probably coming, makes it really hard to want to tell anyone. When I was talking with one of my foster friends about this she empathized and said she knew how much it hurt, but she encouraged me to still share, even though it’s hard, because it helps people on the outside looking in understand more the emotional roller coaster that this can sometimes feel like. It helps me lean on others for strength when I don’t have it, and helps them know how to more specifically pray for us in this process.
Last Thursday when I was traveling to Chicago, I received an email from our caseworker about another little girl whom we will call “R.” Her current foster family is unable to adopt her, and they are looking for a family to permanently place her with before terminating parental rights. So though “R’s” case is not as far along as “L’s,” the situation is very similar. There would still be hard things if she was placed with us, but not as long and drawn out as a placement can be when they are placed with us from day 1. We said “yes” to “R,” and have not heard anything yet. It could be days, or months before we do.
I’m much more guarded this time, after realizing that even saying “yes” to these types of cases, doesn’t mean anything until the county says it does.
Through all the waiting, though it can be tiresome, and emotionally exhausting, each time what makes me pick myself back up is thinking of these poor, sweet faces, and all that they have lost, and all that is broken in their families in a way that God never intended them to broken, and I’m over here with 2 healthy, biological children who get to grow up in a stable, Christ centered home, and I’m sad that “our family doesn’t feel complete yet.”
My gain will be because of their loss.
Our family’s wholeness will be because of their family’s brokenness.
And I know it’s ok for me to be sad. It’s ok to wrestle with God on these feelings of control, and timing. I don’t have to numb myself to that. It’s ok to mourn that, however it’s not good to stay there forever. My hope is, and always will be in the wholeness that Jesus brings to each of our lives, not in my biological children, or future children. Only in Jesus.
You see, before Jesus died on the cross, He had a moment with God where He asked Him to “Take this cup from me,” but then went on to say “Yet not what I will, but what you will” Mark 14:36. Jesus knew how excruciating the next days of His life would be, but He trusted His Father despite the hard that was to come.
Whether God places a child with us who has had parental rights terminated and is nearing adoption, or if we will get a placement who is just starting their foster journey….we trust that our God is good, and has a bigger plan than we can see despite the pain that it takes to get there.
Take a listen- this a great reminder of where our hope really lies: Cornerstone- Hillsong