Tim and I have been retired from foster care for about five years.
We closed for many reasons. We closed because we were overflowing in all areas of our life. Our schedule and hours in our life were so full of child care (daily care, appointments, therapy and homeschooling) for medically fragile/special needs children, we had no more time to give from anywhere. Not to mention normal household upkeep and a farm. We were stretched as thin as we could handle, in the areas of sleep, money, energy, just every avenue there was. I often felt as if Tim and I had a life of spinning plates and when one thing went down (hospital stays, surgeries, illnesses) it was a struggle to keep the rest going. We clung to God thru it all.
I came to a place I could not do one thing more. I started to have major health issues and we had to close. Had to. If it were not for God, I do not know how we ever would have lived the life we have and survived. Don’t get me wrong. Life was always good and we saw Gods hand in all things, at all times. When we say that God helped us daily get everything done and it was not us that did it, we meant it. There was no way humanly possible for it all to get done without Him doing it thru us.
Once we closed our home to foster care, life became ours and the most settled it had in a long time. No more children coming and going all hours of the day and night. No more case plans, visitations and crazy decisions by a judge. We had adopted five times over the years. When we closed, who was here was our family and we went forward as that family. Stephen had just moved out into his own apartment and we had five still at home.
It was so nice to just be us but so many years of doing foster care put us all in a situation of trying to process the years of all that went on while working with the system. We had lost count after over 40 children had went thru our home in the 9 ½ years we did foster care. Tim and I had neglected each other and our relationship, at times, trying to meet all the needs and do all that needed doing. I went thru a time where I had to discover who I really was. If not a foster mom, than who? Really I did. It was hard to make the shift from all that constant change to stability and routine.
God taught us so much in the years we served as foster parents but God has taught me so much thru those years after we retired too. Tim and I have grown so much in our marriage. I have been pruned by God in many areas and am such a different person than who I was just those short five years ago. My goodness…the children have grown and God has stabilized their health so much in those years as well. I now have a house full of young adults!
We just reopened with foster care again not that long ago. We reopened wondering if God had any more children for us to raise, as unto Him, before we get any older. If He does, we pray He brings them to us and if not, we are content and will just foster for a while.
We had a visitor over the weekend.
I didn’t share it with hardly anyone as I just felt to embrace the time with this child. She was a newborn straight from the hospital and she needed my full and constant attention. It was a beautiful and wonderful weekend and experience. I could feel God in it and His help and hand, from the feedings every two hours around the clock, to seeing my children hold and love on one so small, with such gentleness and tenderness.
But…it brought back to remembrance many feelings and thoughts that I knew about but had not remembered and lived or felt in a long time. The honest fact is foster care is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Not only in the cases but in the emotions you go thru as the caregiver of a child that you are fostering. I forgot how quickly we bond to children and how hard it is to say good-bye.
The number one comment I have heard time and time again over the years while doing foster care is… “It takes a special person to do foster care…I could never do it…I could never let them go once they were in my home.”
Seriously, that is the most said comment to us and part of it is very, very true. Letting go a child you loved and cared for as part of your family, is one of the hardest things about foster care. There is no way to control the warmth that washes over your heart and mind as you nurture, bath, feed and pour love out to a child as you would your own. There is also no way, I have ever found, to stop the ache in your heart when they leave. You just have to grieve it and walk thru it. Not pretty and not fun. But the bottom line is this is not about us. It is not about me or how I feel in it all. It is about the child. We are doing this for a child and for God. If you do this for the wrong reasons and God is not in this, than it will not go well. You will get caught up in coveting someone else’s child. In speaking evil with our mouths against parents struggling with addictions and things in life we have never faced, instead of praying for them. We will get caught up in cases, judgments and the dark sticky mess of the world we try so hard to keep away from as Christians. If we get caught up in all of the above, our hearts and feelings are going to not be in love and our lives are going to be stressed, we will fall into sin. If we get caught up in the worldly part of it, than our gift to God in doing foster care, is not going to be a beautiful sacrifice and service to Him as it should be.
If we can…If I can…remember to pray hard and leave it all in Gods hands. To simply love a child while it is in our care and leave the rest to God. To trust God with all of it. I know all will be well and He will help us at every turn. With every child as they come, thru their stay, at every visitation, court date and to help us process the grief of them leaving when they do.
God is so good to us always…May we serve Him, trust Him, give Him, all areas of our life, all the days of our life.
Lord be with little baby "T". Keep her safe and may her parents find you and be led by you all the days of their life.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.