Friday, February 24, 2012

Called to Foster

I saw this post over at "Called to Foster" and it brought back to memory a blog post I had typed up a couple months ago.  I believe it was the first of November.  At the time, it was too difficult for me to share, so I just put it away.  But, maybe it would be helpful to share it now.  Helpful for someone to see the reality of foster care. 

You see, I have said my whole life that I would not be a foster parent.  I grew up in a foster home and was very blessed to be able to stay with the same family.  But I knew the reality was that didn't happen very often. I believed I could not bring myself to see children come and go like that.  It would break my heart too much.  So, selfishly, I always said no.  Andy and I had agreed that we would adopt someday when our youngest biological child was a certain age.  We decided that before we were married (it had been a dream of mine since I was a child).  But foster care was nowhere on my radar.

Eventually, however, we are realizing that true service to the Lord is not following what we want, but rather what God has told us to do.  It requires stepping out of our comfort zones, sometimes doing things we don't like or don't feel comfortable doing.  For now, our family believes that is foster care.  Even though I still claim that I am not cut out for fostering :)  For now, we will continue.  So, here is my post from before our bonus kiddos (that had lived with us for 17 months) moved to their new home and in a time that was a bit overwhelming for me.
Just from Kathy….

Many things are on my heart and mind lately. I’ve avoided typing this, but now finally I’m doing it. Partly to share what is going on and partly to just bare my soul. Which is something I don’t do very well. Call it fear, call it pride, call it whatever, but it’s hard for me to share things that aren’t just happy thoughts or our beautiful children and all the fun things they do and we get to do with them. It’s hard to share it with anyone other than those whom I trust completely. But, maybe, out there, there is someone going through what we are. Maybe this will help or maybe it will scare my friends and family away and be the last piece to the puzzle that will prove what they’ve thought all along. It probably will turn out to be rambling and not make any sense at all. But, here goes.....

Our bonus kiddos are leaving. Yes, I know many people that know us know that already. But.

My CHILDREN are leaving.

MY children are leaving.

Gracious, can you put yourself in these shoes? Can you picture taking your precious babies and putting them in someone else’s care for the rest of their childhood? Yes, we could have adopted them. Yes, this was our choice. It was a family decision. Some yay, some nay, but all in all, it had to be made to benefit our whole family. All 9 of us. And the deadline came so a decision was made. We will not be adopting them. Unless, by some miracle, God brings them back to us, they will be adopted by their new family.

My days lately have consisted of our normal routine with a quiet whisper in the back of my heart saying “take it all in…they’re leaving soon.” Wake up, fix hair times 2, take the girls to their school. Pull in the drop off lane, get kisses from the oldest as I tell her to be a good girl and don’t forget her jacket. Then I sit there and watch her walk over to pet the school’s dog, Max and then walk inside. Max loves her, she says. And I believe her. I’ve seen him run, well walk-Max is pretty old-right to her in a sea of choices.

Pulling around to park and walk our 4 year old into her classroom. She has a very specific routine for that. Her teacher informed me that if we don’t follow it just so, she noticed the day did not go well. Kiss and “I love you” at the door before going into the classroom. Helping her hang her coat and bag. Another hug, kiss and I love you and then she runs to the window to wave and sign “I love you” as I walk away returning the gestures. Sometimes she cries. What if she cries there…? Wiping tears as I drive home from the school. It’s a rigid routine-every day, the same.

Coming home and being greeted at the front door with squeals of “Mommy!!!” as the 2 year old opens the door for me to come in. He’s been in the care of big sister Rachel while I took the others to school. He’s such a big boy now. We do homeschool with our 4 biological blessings. They’re such little rocks. Helping me-asking me if I’m okay. Trying to get their schoolwork done and caught up. We’re so behind after the journey of our last 3 years. Deployment+move+foster care+move with foster care. We have so far to go and they truck along, most days doing double in some subjects. I’m so proud of them.

In the spare time sprinkled throughout our day (usually late in the evening or during naptime) I’ve been going through the kids’ belongings. Sorting clothes and toys, going through their school crafts and papers-some to keep some to send. Looking through pictures of the adventure of the last 16 months. Trying to piece together an album for them to take with them, but never able to get past the first few weeks without turning into a mess of tears. Texting their new family asking if they want this or that. Swallowing pride and tears when the new family rejects our help or chooses to do things a different way. Which, we know is fine. We adore their new family. We’ve grown to consider them friends and, most importantly, the kids love them too.

Thinking, or trying not to think, about all the lasts. The last lunch at school with the oldest. Their last dr. appointments with us. Their last time to attend church with our family. The last time we sit in the driveway and watch our crew of 7 children ride their bikes together. Last quick run for ice cream in town. Last dance with the little guy. Last big meal with all 7 of our children around the table. Last time to hear our girls (and baby too) singing at the top of their lungs to “Christ has risen from the dead, mmm mmm mm mm, Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave..” they don’t get all the words yet. Our little guy will sing “Oh how…” to David Crowder (and DANCE in his little carseat too).

Thinking of the last time I will tuck them into bed in our home. The last time the oldest will brush her teeth and come running to me to say “Smell my breath mommy!” (a sign she’s dutifully followed her routine) The last time I tuck the 4 year old in just right “don’t forget my feet” and “can I have a book mommy?” When I’ll lay our little son down in his bed, make sure he has his favorite pillow, his special blanket Rachel made him, his binky and we can’t forget his puppy. Make sure the door is cracked ‘just so’ in case he wakes up afraid at night. Waking up to 2 little girls coming in early to our beds to get their daily dose of snuggles. They need the hugs. They feel safe in our bed. The closer the better. They need to know it’s all going to be okay. It is, right?

Waking up that last morning and taking them to their new home…saying good bye and the baby not having a clue that it is for good. He will wave and say “Bye Mommy” just like every other time…..

Oh for God’s Grace to get us through this step. Because I can NOT do this on my own. I want to curl up in a ball and wake up when it’s over. I want to rip this bandaid off now and get to the other side. The time from now to then is agonizing. But, here we are. For a reason. For a purpose. God’s purpose. We pray it is God’s purpose anyway. I won’t pretend to know that for sure. We want so much to be used for His Glory and pray we are not making this choice selfishly.

I remember when the kids first came 16 months ago. Oh, it was a mess. Before, we felt like professional parents. We had 4 children, read so many books, experienced so much through our children or those close to us. We were ready and knew what we were doing. Then the kids came. It was like having a newborn all over again. Actually, to tell the truth, we felt a lot more prepared and accomplished with the newborn. We knew nothing. Had no clue how to handle these children. These were not your best friend’s kids. These were not the naughty kids in the church nursery. These are children who have been through neglect. Abuse. Starvation. Abandonment. Loss. Pain. Grief. Repeatedly. It is real and written all over their little hearts.

We have seen them grow and learn to trust. Learn to feel safe. Excel in their school, sports and in life. We pray that they will accept this new transition happily. We pray they will be happy, but most importantly that they will continue to grow. We pray for the Saving Knowledge and Grace of Christ in their lives. We hope we can still be a part of their lives. We hope they forgive us for this one last move. The oldest has told us several times that she never wants to move. We will be telling her this week that she will be moving to her new home soon. Pray for her little heart. Pray for our children’s hearts too. They will grieve as well-they just don’t realize it yet.

So, please forgive me for not returning calls or emails on time (or at all). I have heard complaints and I apologize-though I'll admit the complaints do hurt. Amidst all of this, my dad got really sick in September and I needed to be away for 2 weeks to be with him. Then, we brought him here to KS to be with us before moving him into his own home nearby. And this week, Andy's surgery... Our home is a mess, we're behind in school, our children are moving and we're exhausted. Please forgive me for not checking or commenting on my Facebook often. (In fact, I asked Andy to change the password and not give it to me.)

There’s just so much on my heart—not to mention so much on my to-do list. My children are leaving, my dad is sick, my body is fighting me and my husband will be deploying soon. {we've since learned he is not-Praise the Lord!} It’s kindof a lot. And then trying to keep it all together to care for my husband, homeschool, train and love on my children so they know that, amidst all of that, God is still on the Throne and in Him do we put our trust. I know God’s Grace is sufficient for me and by THAT alone will we get through this.

For now, I have my marching orders and daily put one foot in front of the other. Onward…

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear , though the earth be removed , and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled , though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah."
Psalm 46:1-3


Rebekah said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us. I am sure this will help someone who has gone through this or will go through it. Because of your willingness to obey you have made a lasting impression on their lives and will forever be in their hearts. We love all of you and are praying.

Corrie said...

So glad you posted this...I know family members of family members (confusing, yes?) who are currently fostering, and it's hard to know what they're going through. This helps. It seems like such a difficult, crazy thing to do--something God would definitely put on your heart and call you to. My friend always tells me, "God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called." Helps me when I am feeling out of my comfort zone doing something I know God has asked me to do. Saying a prayer for y'all.