posted on: Nov 10, 2017
Caleb and I walked into our Core Training Class (a requirement for foster licensing) on a chilly, fall Saturday four years ago. In our mid thirties with a three-year-old little boy, we were excited to love hurting children. We were optimistic about helping vulnerable families and ready to be part of something bigger than ourselves. But mostly we just wanted to grow our family and felt that adopting through the foster system was our best bet.
We sat down and introduced ourselves in a room full of other eager couples. We talked about our shared dream to adopt and I humble-bragged about my previous work as a social worker at an adoption agency–just so everyone knew I had learned everything there was to learn about this world. I was basically an expert.
As it turns out, God is the only life-expert. My plan to “grow our family” was a simpler, but much less fulfilling, journey than the one we started that day. Instead, the Holy Spirit reached down and grabbed my husband and me at the exact same moment. He spoke to us clearly through one woman and radically changed our hearts and minds about what makes a family. God gave us passion for what He is passionate about.
The woman God used to change our hearts was Sarah. She was invited to speak to our class from a biological parent’s perspective on foster care. Years earlier, Sarah’s children were removed and placed in foster homes because of her drug addiction. Through tears, she shared her shame and broken-heartedness with us, all strangers. We cried with her as she recounted how she’d clawed her way out of addiction and in the process, found Jesus. The unstoppable love she had for her children I recognized as the same love I had for mine. After several years in foster care, her family was restored and Sarah was profoundly redeemed in the most beautiful and grace-filled way.
The words she spoke about the foster parents who loved her kids through those difficult years rocked me to my core and it was at that moment that I knew God had called us to be those people: those fearless people who fought for kids to be reconciled to their families rather than assuming they’d be better off in ours.
God convinced us that if we fostered long enough, we eventually would get the opportunity to adopt. And, if we learned to open ourselves up to the potential for pain and loss that comes with caring for any child in need of a loving home, we would be that much closer to living a life that reflects His heart for the orphan, His heart for the broken-hearted, His heart for a hurting world.
In the four years we’ve been foster parents, we have gained a beautiful understanding of grace; this unmerited favor that allows us the privilege of opening our family to hurting kids and their parents. It is a great life; not free from grief or confusion or lack of control. But whose life is really free of those things anyway?
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
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