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Blog Foster Parent

I lost my life to find it.

The Christian martyr Jim Elliott is quoted as saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This quote is a snapshot of what the journey of being a fost-adopt parent has looked like for me.

Let me be honest, I was clearly closed to foster care. I had my one biological daughter and that was enough for me, the expression of love and DNA passed down. In my mind, there was no way that I could love a child that didn’t come from me biologically. What was the point?

Since my wife (and I deep down) had such a desire to conceive more children we did all the stuff couples do. Testing, talking, paying money, more testing, and paying more money, and all the other stuff that comes from inside the measurable and controlled white walls.

Through our secondary infertility journey, I realized my wife’s deep desire to become a foster-adoptive parent. This was a scary squall to me. It was no longer about me because I was hell bent on staying in my boat no matter what. I love counting the cost. I can do it forever. I think first then leap, but never really leap. Why should I? I can always rationalize away “counting the cost” but it gives birth to what I’m ultimately after, security and control.

I don’t think that Jesus came to offer me a safe and controlled life but I subconsciously swam in this mirage of the Christian-American dream. I concluded that this is my stuff and I am not willing to share. 

Truthfully, it came to a point that I knew I would need to lay down my life for my wife or it would always be the elephant in the room. Lose my life to find it. I wanted to save my life to keep it, thank you very much.

My wife asked if we could take some classes about the dire need for “parents to take in children removed from homes.” Why would I want to upset the “shalom of my home” to bring in “little squalls not from me”? Am I crazy?

After attending these classes I became aware that one, this is a crisis and two, there were very few men attending these meetings. This bothered me. It was the women who were stepping up to the challenge and getting out of the boat. It was God who was slowly unclenching my hands gripped on the boat.

After the classes, I took out my anger by punching the center of the steering wheel with such great force that it set off the car horn indefinitely. “Where are the men!” I yelled.

This was God’s way of interrupting my quiet and safe life. The horn was God’s way of symbolically asking me to get out of the boat. Asking me to lose my life so I can find it, and so we did.

Today I have had the privilege to welcome children and a teenager into my home, and I have adopted two of them.

Becoming a foster-adoptive parent was nothing what I expected. I realize that I have love to give. My heart has room, just as God’s heart has room with his many mansions.

The bottom line is that jumping in the pool and getting out of the boat has changed the trajectory of my life!

Saying yes to children who need a loving home is saying yes to God. I have lost my life to find it but the gift is that we were meant for love, created by Love to give love. 

Although foster care has been challenging at times, I find that it is rewarding because it has shaped me. I have had to depend on Jesus, keeping my eyes on him amidst the challenges and joys.

Children do not ask to be removed. They have no choice, but I do. To whom much is given, much is required. Being a foster parent is not about me. It is about the children and the Lord who welcomes them in his name because I remember that Jesus is the welcome and the welcomer.

Jim Elliot was right. I am no fool because I keep nothing down here but I gain everything that I can never lose.

Doug

 

Categories
Blog Foster Parent

Un-becoming His Mom

Reunification is the first and primary goal of foster care and I believe foster parents can play a key role in championing biological parents on that path. The journey isn’t easy- it’s full of emotional highs and lows, but getting to witness a family restored is one of the highest honors in life. For 20 months I loved and cared for my foster son as if he were my own. There were many moments where I truly didn’t know what the outcome of the case would be. There were twists and turns around every corner, but I always held hope and prayed that one day I’d be able to confidently hand him back to his mom, knowing that’s where he belonged. Over the course of almost 2 years, the Lord opened the door for me to build a beautiful relationship with her. It started out slowly, but over time we became friends. She began to trust me and open up to me and I was able to support and encourage her.  By the grace of God and lots of grit and determination on her part, she successfully completed her case plan. Her son has been home with her for over a year now and I am blessed to continue being part of their lives. She has always assured me that she wants me in his life forever, but when he first reunified, the dynamics of our relationship shifted. Our roles reversed: she became the primary caretaker and was in control, and I was the one who was now having visits. I began to understand (to a degree) what she had felt while he was in my care. My house was empty and my heart ached for him. It’s not natural to temporarily raise a baby and then have to say goodbye. As much as I wanted him to leave me, I grieved deeply.  It was challenging in many ways and I had to figure out who I was again, outside of being somebody’s mom. Through growing pains/adjusted expectations I’ve learned to respect her boundaries. There’s a mutual understanding that the relationship is on her terms. It’s been messy at times, but we have so much love for each other. She affectionately refers to me as her “Baby Mama” and we talk often. I still light up every time they FaceTime or invite me to hang out with them. We’ve spent holidays, birthdays, and special occasions together. We’re family now! Every day that passes since I un-became his mom (I mean in the practical sense, because of course my heart will always have a mother’s love for him) gets a tiny bit easier. This current season of life feels a little more “normal”.  But then some days, a random memory will pop into my head and tears fill my eyes. Today it was walking up to my porch and remembering all of his things that used to be scattered about for our daily porch hangs. I miss being his mom so much. And I know that’s okay. It’s okay to be so glad he’s home, but also miss momming him. It’s both/and. I recognize how unique and special our relationship is. It’s truly a gift that she continues to humbly allow me in. Oh what joy it brings me to see them thrive!  I am immensely proud of the mother she is and am grateful for the journey we’ve walked together. I look forward to all the memories we’ll make over the years! -Foster the City Foster Parent