Considering foster care, but worried about the risk it may pose to your heart and your family if you move forward?
Perfect. I'm glad you're here!
And since you're here, let's go ahead and get one thing straight...
You're going to cry.
Because there is nothing joyful about families being torn apart.
Broken homes and broken bodies are not a laughing matter.
Because you might be the fifth family the one year old has lived with, and she will have a hard time attaching to you, she's never learned to attach, and the idea is overwhelming for her fourteen month old heart.
Because who knows when the last time that little bottom has seen a baby wipe or a fresh diaper, and the three and four year old are hoarding food under their beds because they have never experienced enough, much less abundance.
Because the fourteen year old has been in more homes than she can count, and since she's never connected or attached to a secure adult, she fears connection, she refuses attachment for fear of the rejection she has come to expect. And even though you will love her with every fiber of your being, the minute she begins to feel something resembling love, she will fight, run, yell, scream, do everything she can to prove to herself and to you that you cannot and you will not love her. She will do her best to sabotage what you've worked so hard to build... and there will be tears.
Let them fall.
...because children who grow up in dysfunction often do not know any other way to live. They raise their children in the same dysfunction that raised them, and those children will likely grow up and raise their children in the very same devastating generational cycle of dysfunction.
Because mental illness is a terrifying, debilitating disease that tricks it's victims into thinking they're well when they are so very not well.
Because addiction is a ferocious monster who devours everyone it can get it's hands on.
Because no matter how much they want to be healthy, it is nearly impossible to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves so many years ago.
And if they could travel back in time, they would go back to the day they made that one awful, life-altering decision that has taken their children from them. They would unmake that decision, they would raise their children and they would live happily ever after.
But time travel is for movies. Not real life. And that decision that was made years ago will always be part of their lives. And that is something to be mourned.
Mourn. Weep. Cry yourself to sleep and wake up in a puddle of tears.
Expect it, own it.
...maybe even love it.
Because eventually you're going to realize that you were lied to. The enemy placed a stronghold of fear on your life, he convinced you that foster care would put the health of your heart in grave danger and that the decision to proceed for the sake of families in crisis, would in return put your heart in crisis.
At some point on your journey the reality, the truth, will hit you....
...maybe when the baby is sleeping safely and peacefully in your arms after weeks and months of struggling through withdrawals due to months of prenatal drug exposure.
...or when the seven year old's walls begin to crumble and he finally let's you side-hug him for a quick second after months of pushing you away, and you begin to notice his tears and tantrums are slowly transforming into smiles and laughter.
...when the ten year old falls asleep with her light off after weeks and weeks of needing it on at night to feel safe. She's safe now, she knows that, you've shown her that.
...when the seventeen year old sits down with your family, smiles, sighs in relief, and tells you this is the first time she has ever had a family dinner.
...or when your foster son's parents turn their lives around, fight their demons and come out on top, and when they pick him up one last time to take him home forever, they hug your neck in gratitude, tell you how very much they love you for placing their hearts above yours, for not only loving and taking care of their son, but for loving and supporting them too.
And get ready, because you're going to cry that moment when it hits you, when you realize how long you bought the lie, and the vast number of capable parents and families that continue to buy it and allow it to keep them from these children... The truth is that YOU being involved in foster care is not dangerous at all. Alternatively, your heart is the safest piece of the foster care puzzle the Lord is building piece by piece in your life.
Take a step back and glance at the big picture. The risk involved in foster care isn't about your heart.
It's about the families and children in your community who are struggling, and what their lives will look like if we take the risk of not stepping into their world and loving them. It's about risking their health, their well being, their futures in order to spare our hearts the risk of being sad. The two are not even comparable. One of these risks is not so risky after-all, is it? The other risk is life-altering for children and families who so desperately need the safety your heart can provide.
The events that lead children and families into foster care are dangerous.
And the reality that there are far more children in need of safety than there are families willing to BE their safety.... that's dangerous. That's risky.
I'm not going to lie to you, though.... the utter sadness of foster care will break you and turn your life upside down. You're going to cry more than you thought was possible. That's not going to change when you recognize that it isn't your heart at risk in this situation.
...but those tears are sanctifying tears and God is using each of them in a powerful way, echoing the work of the Gospel in your journey on this earth, as you step into another family's mess, put aside your own comfort and convenience, and sacrificially love each of these family members He has placed in your path, supporting redemption and reunification along the way. And then, right in your deepest moment of brokenness, you're going to realize that the tears, the children, the families and the hard did something completely unexpected. Foster care didn't break you.... foster care built you and turned your life right side up.
And don't get me wrong, you're going to keep crying...
...but you're going to go forward differently, knowing that these children and their families matter and they need to given the same grace that you have been given, to be loved so much that hearts would be willing to grieve so that their livelihood wouldn't be risked, that they might have a second chance at being a healthy family. And your tears will continue as your heart walks this messy path, recognizing the depth of it's own ugliness maybe for the first time. As God continually sanctifies you, healing you from the sins of distrust, anger, and fear, you will deeply understand with incredible confidence that every tear that falls on this journey is absolutely worth it.
As you consider foster care, please keep in mind the risk and danger it may pose to the hearts of children and families in your community if you don't move forward. And if you feel the Lord is nudging you ahead, please pray, ask questions, find a foster family in your community, or contact me. I would love to pray and walk this journey with you.