Why did we choose foster care?
Another simple answer...
When we moved to Louisiana seven years ago I accepted a job at a state funded group home. I worked there for nine months... Those nine months were absolutely life changing. They were my first real exposure to the world of foster care and the children in the system. We cared for children from about eleven to seventeen. Traumatized, hurt, angry, damaged by the things they had experienced in their lives so far. Longing for love, but understandably guarded. When they allowed me to love them, that was the greatest of privileges. These kids changed me. Completely. And I'm SO blessed to have been able to keep in touch with several of them who have continued to let me love them and have loved me back in a way that humbles me and brings big weepy tears to my eyes.
I want to share an experience with you... One single day at work that changed our lives and our future for good.
Christmas day, 2008. Chris came to work with me, there were eight kids who had nowhere to go on Christmas. No family, no aunts, grandparents, no mama or daddy, no willing previous foster home... nobody.
I look back on that day, on the tears, the fighting... there were TONS of gifts that had been donated, and I wondered for a moment why these kids were so ungrateful... they threw things, they yelled, the color wasn't right, it wasn't the brand they hoped for... didn't they realize they were getting gifts?? From strangers who cared about them?
I quickly realized where the grief poured from.. while their friends from school were in their homes opening gifts from their mama and grandmama, they were in an institution opening handouts from strangers...
These eight children very literally had nobody.
...and did I mention it was Christmas??
Nobody should have nobody on Christmas!
Chris and I went home that night with a new understanding of the calling the Lord was placing on our lives. We walked into our three bedroom home and we knew.
These kids needed somewhere to go, someone to love them on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, weekends, Thursdays, Mondays, every day, every hour and every minute.
And we had room.
When I left my job several months later we quickly sought foster certification. For the next several years until our daughter was born we welcomed these teenagers from group homes into our life and our home on holidays and weekends and whenever we could. We cooked with them, prayed with them, had family dinners, watched movies, opened gifts, played games, LOVED with every ounce of our hearts because these kids are SO lovable. We loved each one who spent time with us and we will love them forever.
Each of these moments were gifts from the God who called us and prepared us. I will never forget some of the experiences we shared with these precious ones and how He used them to mold me into who I am today. They showed me that not only did I have room in my home, I had even more room in my heart.
And even after Mercy came into our lives and filled our hearts so full, those sweet ones who have kept in touch continued to remind me of how much room there was to love, and even one more little heart ready to share her love with the world.
As Mercy grew over the course of that first year, I would walk into that empty bedroom and just wonder who would fill it. I often prayed for our future foster children in those moments, not knowing if they had been born yet or when we would meet them. I prayed that our hearts would be prepared, I prayed for their safety, their hearts, I prayed for their parents and I thanked God for giving us room to grow our family, even if only temporarily, through these precious little ones in foster care.
Three bedrooms, still only two were occupied.
Three hearts, so roomy and so ready to love.
...and friends, that's about as simple as it gets.
We have room, so we said yes.
And oh how very blessed we have been by saying yes to this sweet little man who has filled our home and our hearts over the last five months!
Do you have room? ...in your home? ...in your heart?
If you have some empty space, will you commit to praying that the Lord show you ways to fill it that will honor Him? It may not look like foster care, adoption or respite care, but if it does please continue to pray, contact me or other foster parents and organizations in your area, seek information and pray. Don't. Stop. Praying.
**This post is part of a series of posts aiming to answer the question, "Why did you choose foster care?" If any of these words or these posts spark an interest in your heart to consider foster parenting, please contact me or visit crossroadsnola.org/foster-care for information about fostering in the St. Tammany Parish and New Orleans area.**