May is foster care awareness month. And while foster care receives mostly negative attention I want to share some positive moments from our foster care journey. With the permission of their mom’s I would like to put a face (or two) to what foster care has meant to us. At one time they have all been in my home and they will forever hold a place in Momma C’s heart.
A little dark before the light:
The statistics are alarming and on the rise. And things are only looking to get worse. The children are the victims in all of this. The drug busts, the neglect charges, the overdoses that you hear about on the news all have one thing in common, children that did not ask to be placed in the situation. They are removed from their home and placed, in many cases, with a family they know nothing about. Thanks to all the negative stories the news and TV shows share about foster care, they are terrified what the foster family may do to them. Will it be worse than what was going on in their home? Will they feed us? Will they hurt us? All questions as a foster mom I have dealt with in those very critical first hours after a new placement arrived in our home. You have to prepare yourself not only for the mental abuse but also the physical abuse ( which may be visible) they have faced. It’s not easy. In fact sometimes it’s down right hard. But if we don’t open our hearts and our homes for these precious children who will? God wants us to be His hands and feet what better way than to help His children when they need us the most.
It takes time. It takes patience. It takes love. It takes Jesus. It takes smiles and giggles. It takes funny voices to get them to eat. It takes prayer. It takes support from your family. It takes a team of people; their caseworkers, a judge, a GAL, a visitation supervisor, the birth parents, and yes the foster parents all working together for what’s best for the child. The trauma they have witnessed and or suffered will not go away over night if it goes away at all. Every case will be different so what worked for “Billy” may not work for “Zac” it will take everyone working together to help them overcome and start moving forward.
We didn’t plan on adopting when we became fosters back in 2010, at least that’s what I tell myself. However I know deep in my heart I longed for more children and I wanted my new husband to experience more than just the hard teenage years he had been thrown into when he became dad to my children (at the time 13 and 10) The feeling of just wanting to foster changed when I fell in love with our second placement, a set of sisters. They had my heart the moment I laid eyes on them. For close to nine months I was their momma. I took them to their doctor appointments, I took them to church, on vacation, but most of all I loved them. The day I found out that an aunt from out of state had been found and wanted them my heart sank. I had this bitter feeling inside me that I could not shake. I had raised these babies how could the court decide to just give them to someone they didn’t know? That’s when God stepped in and took my hand. That’s exactly how I had got them He reminded me. He removed the bitterness the moment I met her. She was a kind, loving soul. Their family was much like ours. The way she held the youngest in her arms reminded me of myself. The way she talked about her kids, her son was in band like mine, and the way she gushed about her daughter all reminded me of me. They were active in the church, even went on mission trips, something we have always talked about doing, as bad as I wanted to not like her I felt drawn to her.
I’m not going to lie the day the girls were transferred was one of the hardest days in my life. But I am grateful. Their now mom (aunt and uncle were able to adopt them 😊) and I are friends. And thanks to the wonderful world of social media I get to see the girls. And they are growing up to be beautiful young ladies. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pass this picture in our hallway and smile. Maybe one day when they are old enough to understand we will get to see them in person. What I would give to hold them one more time and tell them I love them. I did not understand it then but God did not intended for them to be ours forever but just for a season. I am thankful, for it what a beautiful season it was.
The next two little ladies brought me much laughter and introduced me to one of my very best friends. Just thinking about them makes me smile. Man were they spunky. I have never seen two sisters so different from each other. One quiet and backward, the other the exact opposite. In a broken system sometimes things happen and for these two girls we were told their case looked to be moving towards adoption. We were in the process of adopting Elissa and JR and at the time thought we were done. I think God used that “thought” to get them to my now friend. The transition from our house to their house went smooth and we kept in contact after that. When she found out the girls were going to their father’s she called me. These girls have been prayed over more than they will ever know. I am thankful their step mom has a good relationship with my friend. I love getting the updates on how they are doing in school and how they are adjusting to the new little ones in the house. Friendships and families can grow out of ashes.
The last little girl will forever hold a special place in my heart, well they all do, but she was the only placement we saw go back to her home. The only one. Her mom was young and in some ways reminded me of my oldest daughter, I couldn’t help but want to be her biggest cheerleader. She was around the same age I was when I had Sie, the big difference I had a support system she did not. The one thing she did have was an awesome aunt. The aunt brought her to the visits, helped her with the baby, and did all the things a mother is suppose to do for her daughter. She was lucky to have her. We worked on basic parenting skills and life skills and when it was time for her to go home, I was the one who got to drop her off. The tears in both the mother’s and aunts eyes is an image I will forever remember. Simply beautiful. The words “Is this really happening? Is she really coming back to me?” repeated themselves over and over as I got baby girls things out of my car. After a few long hugs I wiped happy tears off my cheeks and climbed back into my car. I told them all that I would always be just a phone away.
And I meant it. I still talk to them, again through social media. She is getting so big and learning to do so many new things. JR still asks about her all the time. Foster care changes the lives of all involved.
We have had several other girls and many boys in care as well, but for now their families are not ready to share their stories. And that’s ok. I still get to see them and I know that even in the darkest of times God makes all things beautiful. Foster care is not about stealing someone’s kid away or taking in kids to make a quick buck. For those of us that foster we know what it’s really about. It’s about opening your heart to a child knowing it could get broken. It’s about working together with people we may not like for the good of the child. It’s about loving that child with all you have and possibly not getting any love back. It’s about comforting them after a nightmare and then cleaning up pee or poop from the floor or bed because the fear scared them to the core. It’s about being there for them in every possible way. It’s about loving them just as God loves us. Foster care is selflessness love.
From our beautiful chaos to yours do you have room to open your heart to a child in need? I promise you it may not be the easiest but it will be the best decision you ever make.