It's a normal day just like any other. The only difference about this day was that it would be the day we take in a foster child. Everybody is excited to have a new baby/child in the house. Nervous, but excited! We get the child's bed ready and sheet tucked in tight. Toys are ready. Pantry is halfway stocked with food that might appeal to the child. Paperwork is blank and all ready to be filled in. Everything is perfect. So we sit and wait. We wait for that precious little child/baby to come through our door. We always think what will they be like? What will they look like? Will he/she be crying or smiling when they come to the door? Then the knock comes at the door and it is the caseworker with the little bundle of joy. We welcome them in, greet the child and then begin paperwork. One of us plays with the child and the child just laughs and plays while the other parent does paperwork. He/she uses his manners very well. There is no arguing or screaming when we have to move on to a new task after the caseworker leaves. We sit down and have a perfect little family meal. Later, we cuddle with the child then tuck him/her into their bed which they already love. They sleep through the night with no fits or crying. They wake up the next morning ready to run into your arms and be loved on.
No. Not at all. That is not real. That is what we THINK foster care is like sometimes. This is what we always wish it could be like. The reality is though, that all of what happened in that former paragraph is actually completely opposite of what it's truly like to take in a foster child. (yes, rare occasions happen where the child is actually semi-behaved for awhile) They don't know us or our family. They want their real mom and dad. They want their home and their bed. They don't want to play with the toys we have. They don't love us. They actually are pretty annoyed with us at the moment. We look at each other and say "our home is clean though! No drugs, no abuse, food whenever you want it! You don't have to sleep on trash, or even on the floor!" No. They don't care at the moment. They still miss "their home" as bad as it was. Even as resilient as infants are, they too can have a hard time. Their security of their caregiver(good or bad) has been taken away. They have to adjust to a new schedule. New smells. New bed. Now, is it possible over time for the child to adjust to us and our family? Possibly! Some kids will never adjust the way we want, because they have a past. A hard, very difficult and hurtful past. Some kids will though. Every child is different.
Each week that passes, we have to pack them up and send them to visit the very family that hurt them in the beginning. That visit can possibly cancel out all of the progress you have made with the child's behavior and attachment. It still has to happen though. Packing the child up for them to go back home indefinitely to the very family that hurt them is much worse than a visit could ever think about being. It still has to happen though. We could ask God "WHY??!?!" but there is no point, because He knows why and that's all that matters. The decision for that child's life has to pass through His hands before it could take place anyways. So whatever happens is truly meant to be, because the Lord allowed it to happen. Does it hurt? Absolutely! Thankfully though, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what is going on with that child. With every child!
All of this is something that Joshua and I have had to be reminded of over the last few months. When these kids come into our home, it's like taking in a newborn every time. These kids may not know how to do things that other children their age can do, so we start at the beginning with them. We learn them. We learn their likes and dislikes. Their "triggers" or things that set them off. One thing we tend to forget frequently, is that all of this takes time. We deal with fits at meal times, and bed time or anytime for that matter. We take the kicks and spit in the face. Why though? Why do we take all of this? Weren't we just supposed to have "our own biological kids" who are good and don't do this??
We were not. God called Joshua and I to do something totally different. We do this because this is the path the Lord has put us on. Some don't understand how we could take in kids and then let them go. I never know how to respond to that, because I don't know how we do it either! Only by God's grace and mercy! It is not easy to take in a child that is not yours and figure out how to love them like they are yours, and then turn around and let them go. No. It is not easy, but we do it anyway. We do it because God instructed us to. These kids/babies need a safe place to call home even if it is just for a few days or a few months/years. They need a safe set of parents that they can eventually learn how to trust. They need a warm bed and blanket to call their own for awhile. We do this even if it does mean we have to have our hearts broken multiple times. Even if we do have to sacrifice time, money, energy, effort, space, and sanity. We love them anyway. We take them in anyway. We love them like our own anyway. Not.easy. But definitely something we have to be faithful in doing. We absolutely love doing foster care and we know that this is a ministry for our family. I just felt overwhelmed to share my heart though, about the reality of foster care. We can get so lost in the "cute kids" that come into our home that we lose sight of their past and hurts and what they really need right now. Foster care is not all flowers, bunnies and tutus. It is hard. It is work, and it is worth it to see how you can make a difference in the life of a child.