*This article was written for the magazine Connections at the Cross.
Five years ago at our church small group a friend asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“We would like to have a few kids by then, and we would love to adopt someday,” I answered.
In that same conversation someone asked, “Would you ever consider foster care?”
I remember telling them no way, I could never do foster care for so many reasons. Fast forward those five years and we are parents to 3 little girls. We have completed 40+ hours of training, taken in a 5 month old and said goodbye to him 7 months later. All things five years ago I said I would never do.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Our little guy, we called him Buddy, came to us broken, bruised, and wide-eyed. No smiles, no giggles, no expressions. No clothes, no bottles, no car seat. I still often think back to that first night. I laid him on the floor to play and ended up crying, calling out to God for protection over this little one’s life. Our family is licensed to foster and adopt and from day one workers would ask if we were a pre-adoptive family. So to us, as first time foster parents, in those first few days, we thought he could possibly be staying with us forever. It wasn’t until caseworkers, the judge, and other foster parents started enlightening us on how the system actually worked that we understood he would probably be leaving us at some point down the road, because reunification is always the goal.
Through it all, my focus had to change. Instead of caring for this baby I wanted to care for forever, I needed to care for this child just for a little while. I needed to give him love, care, and affection while knowing he would be leaving us someday.
To me, that’s the ministry of foster care.
We open our hearts and lives to those who need it, expecting nothing in return. We may do a lot for the workers, for the kids, for the biological family within the system, and it may be acknowledged, but it may not. I often thought of Jesus as we took each step through this process. How Jesus has done so much for us. He bled and died for us, paying the ultimate sacrifice for all. Not every one will acknowledge that, not everyone will accept that, but He did it anyway.
Overall, as a first time foster mom, one thing I learned from this experience and will carry through the rest of our foster care journey is to trust in God’s sovereignty. It can be easy to get discouraged by the brokenness and feel defeated, but when you look up and trust the One who has it all under control, there is peace in that and that is exactly where I want to be.