When you enter the world of foster care, you always know that there is the possibility that these precious babies will one day be returned to the birth parents. In fact, a part of you hopes that this is exactly what happens because it means a restoration...something broken is now repaired. Parents who were struggling have gotten the needed help and are now ready to reengage in the life of their children. This is the goal of foster care. But, I would be lying if I said that that this is easy.
To be a good foster parent, you must fall in love with these children from the very beginning of their placement. They need love more than anything else in this world. (Except Jesus, but He is love, right?) So on one hand you are committing to love and treasure this child for some unknown amount of time all the while being ready to walk away without question when the courts or social service agencies tell you to. Often times, you are allowed no further contact once reunification takes place. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?
For starters, what message does it send the child? Do they not wonder if you no longer care? Do they not feel a new sense of abandonment? Oh friends, this system is so broken, a system intended to help children seems to be causing even more harm.
And that is if the birth parents really have worked to get healthy. What happens when that is not the case and the children return home, to the same broken situation they were removed from? Then what? How is a foster parent supposed to feel? What is "socially acceptable?"
I don't know the answer to that question; I only know how I feel. These last few weeks we have been preparing our hearts (as best as we can) for the beginning process of two of our babies transitioning home. This transition is happening, not because the parents have worked to "get better" but rather because the social service agency failed to do their job and these babies have fallen through the bureaucratic cracks. Because of confidentiality, I cannot go into details but if I did, I assure you that your heart would be sickened. I have literally been told by a caseworker that, "It is not a matter of if these kids will get hurt, but when," and yet I have to allow them to begin having overnights as we prepare for full transition. So how do I feel?
I feel like I am sitting in a conference room at a hospital. The team of doctors are all looking at me with serious, frightening faces. My stomach is turning and threatens to spill as I prepare to hear their words. The doctor in charge pulls his chair up next to me and begins, "I am sorry to give you this news, but the results are in and I am afraid their is nothing we can do."
The room starts spinning as I try to focus on what he is saying, "... terminal and it seems there is no hope... try some new treatments but ... no guarantees ..."
My sobs escape from somewhere deep inside my body. I am no longer able to contain my emotions or the contents of my stomach. The hopelessness feels like it is suffocating me and I struggle for each breath. Someone is asking if I am ok, if there is anything they can do, but I have no answers.
This is a dark, dark place. This place of no hope. And this is where I am, foster parenting and terminal illness.
I honestly do not know how we will be able to walk this road, how we will do what we are required to do, but I do know that God is still God, He is still good, and He is still on the throne. I guess this is where faith comes in, trusting God even when I cannot see past the hopelessness. I blogged about Hope and its opposite, Anxiety a few years ago and as I was rereading those words, I was reminded of this verse in Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:35-36 “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
So as I sit hear in the dark, trying to find that confidence I have lost sight of, I will call on the endurance that comes from knowing I have done all that Christ has asked me to, and then I will TRY to rest in what He has promised.
So as I close, I ask you to please, please pray for us in these next few days and weeks as we cling to the promises these two songs remind us of...
I Will Praise You in This Storm, Casting Crowns and
Bring the Rain, Mercy Me