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Foster Familying: A Manifesto

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So… my little pink princess is still doing well. She’s got as much baggage as one would expect, but she’s really a great kid. And she and Simeon are the best of friends. I’m kind of amazed, all the time.

Still, as often happens with new placements, big feelings are happening all up in this house. And the other day we made a break through: After Simeon had a particularly sour morning, I found him sulking in his room. We snuggled up, back to the door, shutting out the world and bore our hearts. Simeon wept, and wept. He thought he was angry about having to share a broken dinosaur toy, but really what broke his heart was knowing he would be saying goodbye again. I held my little boy as he sobbed “I just wanna ‘dopt all de kids…” and “I wanna have kids forever” and “I wanna ‘nother ‘doption kid to play with [sob] forever!!!…”

And my heart broke for him. And my heart broke for myself and Leo and all of the goodbyes we’ve had these past few years. Living so many goodbyes is not easy. It simply is not easy.

When Leo and I began this fostering gig, we were doing it as a temporary ministry on our way to what we thought was a different mission. Then Simeon arrived and nearly three years later, we see that we were wonderfully wrong. We never planned on adopting. It simply wasn’t something we had even expected to happen, but then it did. And after October, we talked again and though we aren’t opposed to adopting again, it just didn’t seem like something we’re really ready to plan for. So here we are, contented fostering more and knowing there’s a sibling group of three who may need a forever home, and really weighing that, but certainly not committing (or even being asked to right now). Meanwhile, our son is growing a heart for adoption and longing for more family.

And Leo and I are continuing forward in supplication. We don’t know what’s in store for our family, but we’re certainly open to whatever it is. All the while, we wrap Simeon tighter and we try to teach him about compassion and hard goodbyes and the richness that can be found in living in hard places (which here is still a life of excess and privilege, right?)

I frequently get emails and comments (both virtual and IRL) suggesting that we take a break from fostering for Simeon’s sake. Because why break his heart more, right? Because us signing up for this doesn’t mean that he did, etc. And I get it. And I appreciate it. But here’s why we’ve decided to keep foster familying (becasue we’re more than just parents here) in spite of heart-break:

1. This is a calling we feel for our FAMILY (which now includes Simeon) and will continue, prayerfully, to heed that calling.

2. Because as much as it hurts to watch my son experience pain, I know that I can’t protect him from heart-break, and here, I know the goodbyes are good and worthy and I feel it’s better for him to be heartbroken in safe and loving arms. Here we can teach him how to be strong, and good hurts verses bad hurts.

3. because my five year old boy already has enough compassion to hug a hurting child who arrives late at night scared and shy. Because my mommy’s boy thinks on his own about sharing my hugs with a child whose mother isn’t around for hugs. Because my rough and tumble boy will take up a tiny hand and whisper “you’re safe, you’re loved”. Because my dirty, smelly boy will gladly give of his to make sure a child who arrives with nothing has something to play with.

4. because he’s learning that the world can be a dark and scary place, but that he can be a safe house, a light, a comfort and compassion to those who have none.

5. because my son is learning to love the unlovable, desire the undesirable, give when he doesn’t really feel like giving and say goodbye even when it breaks his heart because it’s best for the other person.

6. because my son sees that there is so much good he can do, even in simple acts. And he’s learning confidence and pride and humility.

7, Because my son who now receives so much ,whatever he whims, is learning to give. To give of his space, his food, his toys, the clothes off his back, the socks off his feet, his friends, his parents’ love. And the best part is, that he really is learning to do it with joy.

8. Because my son knows that the world is bigger than his backyard, than his neighborhood, than his food, his church, his traditions. Because we’re learning about others together, as a family.

9. Because he’s learning to make room in life. And while he longs for permanency, he’s learning that there’s a lot of wonderful surprises that come with inviting others in (like a friend who longs to picnic under the climbing tree as much as he does).

10. Because he can see how loved and valued and desired he is. Because he cannot take for granted the sweetness and richness of this life he’s been chosen for and he cannot deny that in a perfect world, all of these children should be afforded the same: love, warmth, food, imagination, laughter…

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About Monica

Christ following, husband loving, children hugging foster and adoptive mama.

11 responses »

  1. Yes, yes, and yes. When we started this fostering-journey-thing, we didn’t realize the effect it would have on the two kids already in our home, and there were moments when I thought, what have we done to them? This is more than children should bear. But then, much more often, there are moments like this post, where I know that as a family, we’ve been given a gift. This whole thing, it’s a gift, and we’re ALL better for it.

    Reply
  2. I LOVE this post. Brava to you!

    Foster care is not easy, life is not easy, but with love and compassion and real world work, it is well worth it for everyone involved!

    Reply
  3. Amen. I try to explain why we would ‘put our kids through this’ all the time to people. This is a great explanation.

    Reply
  4. You brought tears to my eyes. again.

    so much to love.

    Reply
  5. I absolutely love this post! We’ve got anxiety out our ears right now at home. I think the trigger was court with our Pumpkin last week. My Cherub 2 is so incredibly stressed out. I worry sometimes that our choice to foster is just too difficult for him.

    Then I go back to just about every single thing you wrote above. And know that this is what our family is supposed to do. Even when it’s difficult.

    Beautiful post! Thank you!!

    Reply
  6. Amen, mama! This world is hard, and in my opinion, it would be a disservice to our children to teach them that when things are sad that you can just “take a break.”.

    Reply
  7. This post is amazing. So well done, so many amazing points. Gah! Tears. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Thank you…I am bookmarking this page so I can read it again when I am asking myself what am I getting myself and my family into!? LOL. My husband and I are going to foster parenting training next month, and we have three young boys of our own at home (7, 7, and 3 yo). It is my prayer that they will be affected in a way similar to how you so eloquently described…my biggest prayer for them has always been that they grow up not thinking they are the center of the universe!! They have a lot of love to give other children, and so do we. I know there will be nay-sayers…many who will think how can you handle so many children, but God will provide. He always does.

    Reply
  9. Me too, Rachel!! What a great thing post to refer back to when we *gulp* introduce the idea to our extended family. This was lovely and it sounds like you have one amazing little boy. 😉

    Reply
  10. You are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: What Now? « Our growing family

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