Last night was class two for our training to become foster parents. I continue to be amazed by how God is preparing us for something big. I am learning a lot and am equally overwhelmed and excited by how vastly our lives will change.
Like I said before, there are all different reasons people have decided to be apart of this class with us. Some are empty nesters, single women, married without children, and some have very specific situations they are pursuing (ie. fostering to adopt a niece). People ask great questions from their own perspective and it is really helpful for focusing our minds on what God has called us to in the journey ahead.
Last night we learned about the court system.
There is a lot going on there. I honestly wonder if social workers ever sleep. I am thankful that their caseload is lower than several years ago. It really seems like our county does a great job trying to prevent kids from entering the system in the first place. They also stick to a timeline of how long a child can stay in foster care. That is comforting. Unfortunately I was the kid asking all the number questions. They don't want to give numbers. Numbers vary and really every case is different. Knowing the numbers helps with expectations though. Sitting in a room with many other excited families (and 75 other approved foster homes in the county), how often do kids enter the system? Someone had to ask. If most kids in our county return to birth parents OR are eventually placed with relatives (which is the more likely of the two) it will help our mental preparation process. So I ask how many kids become adoptable. I hear a general agreement across the room as the answer was given. Numbers help.
By week two, I can see my mindset shifting to something more practical. But how does one train their heart? It will be helpful to focus on how God will use us, our home, and our family to provide a safe, loving place for a child to come and stay for however long he ordains. Adoption may never be an option for the growth of our family but there will always be children living here. Even if the child lives with us for a year. Eighteen months. Our minds and hearts need to be set on whatever God has laid before us. It will be helpful to our current children too. We can't be expecting forever with each placement.
I am thankful that the government can not so easily dissolve a person's parental rights. I am thankful that a timeline is in place here to prevent that process from dragging out too long. I am thankful that they look under every rock and behind every tree trying to find a relative who will take the child before they become adoptable. A child will always want their family no matter how terrible they have been treated. 80% of foster children here enter the system due to abuse or neglect. It wrenches my heart, but I am thankful that in some cases children can be reunited with birth relatives. My heart ache is the least of the pain in this process.
So we are learning how to love. Love like Christ loves the church. To love without conditions, expectations. And although this bodes well to the strengthening of a marriage and family, it also proves fruitful to prepare us for the road ahead. There will be love showered on broken children. There will be joy found in God's graces. There will be laughter and smiles. There will be miracles. And that might just have to be enough.
Our application is complete. We are ready to schedule a home study. Things are moving forward and I am excited to see what comes next in the process.