My head was spinning last night. First because I had a pounding headache and second because there was just so much to process at our third training meeting. I have come to really enjoy my solo drive to and from the class on Tuesday evenings. My Love meets me there after work and so drives himself home. I cried all the way back to our house last night. I am overwhelmed.
I am not exactly sure what the theme of the training was called. It was taught by the director of Social Services. She had a lot of experience and an amazing memory. I kept looking at My Love when she would tell stories about particular children in foster care and rattle off the exact dates that situations happened. For the third straight time, we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing why we were there. There have been new additions to the group and it has been helpful to get to know everyone a little more. There have been some faces missing too. The group is dwindling down. And some have admitted that they may not actually move forward with foster care when the training is done. We shall see.
The director read a kind of story about what a child goes through when they are taken from their family and put into foster care. What they might be thinking. An experience from the child's perspective. One line in particular really got me thinking. The child drives up to a big house where there are a Mom and Dad and kids standing on the front porch smiling excited to welcome this child into their home and this is exactly the worst day of the foster child's life. They are terrified. My prayers are changing.
There was much talk about abuse. They have promised there will be more to come. Sexual abuse is really common. I needed to hear that because it can be easy to pretend that it might not affect us. I turn my face away when she shares another story of a two year old.
My mind started thinking two things. How could anyone be so cruel and evil? And what are we getting ourselves into?
I don't think I can even explain how my heart is changing. On one hand I mourn the idea that Bundle Boy and Babydoll are about to lose their innocence. They are about to be introduced to a hard, wicked world that would cause a child pain. That would chose not to love a child. That would dispose of them. On the other hand I feel so thankful that God has given my children this gift to learn compassion and how to think beyond themselves and to be eye witnesses to why we all need a Savior.
We road the elevator down with a young-ish couple without children. They hope they can foster a baby who they can adopt. I hope their hearts aren't going to be broken. Can you imagine fostering a baby from birth and then saying goodbye 18 months later? That would be hard enough for me, but for it to be your only child at home... Breathe. We are praying for them. They are Christians and I hope God is preparing their hearts too.
The teachers of the training have told us time and time again that in 99% of the cases the ultimate goal is for the child to return to their birth parent. (Trust me that you don't even want me to share an example of the 1%.) Obviously that may not happen but that is what the social workers are working toward. No matter how badly they have been hurt by their parents, the child will want to be back with them. No matter if we can provide a better life for them, they will want to be with their birth family. We are preparing our hearts. We are choosing to love and nurture and pray over each child that God blesses us with. All the while trying to prevent our hearts from dreaming that they will be in our family forever. How does one do that? I am hopeful that they will teach us how to prepare our children for as much. A year is a long time in a 2-year old's life. How does Babydoll say goodbye to a child she has grown up with? Breathe.
There was another bit where we read on slips of paper scenarios that we tried our best to answer and then we watched a video. It was 15 minutes of text flashing across the screen and the periodic sound of children's voices reading some of the lines. It was powerful and moving and heartbreaking. What some children go through is overwhelming.
In the back of my head I hear a loud screaming telling me "DON'T DO THIS!" I know it is not the voice of truth. I mean, how could I not do this?!
There is much to process.
Up until now we have been somewhat consumed with preparing us for a new addition. Our thoughts have shifted. It is time to start thinking about the child. The scared, broken, angry, lost child. Does it really matter what our hearts might go through? Wouldn't God want us to love them with reckless abandon even if they don't love us back? It can be easy to look at all we have to offer and assume any child would be happy to fall right into line with our family. Why would they possibly trust me? There will be many tears and we have to be okay with that.
Once back at home together, My Love said, "On the drive home I just thought about how much we need to be praying for these kids."
I have no idea what it feels like to be scared, broken, angry or lost. I can not understand what it means to have no family. Can you imagine? To be full of pain and be all alone. To have no one to trust.
I envision lots of holding of little ones just speaking the name of Jesus. Telling them over and over again as they cry how much he loves them and cares for them and sees them. Only the Father can bring them comfort in a lifetime of pain so we will gladly point them to the cross.
I know all of this sounds hard but really it has been really good for us. We are learning a lot and believe it or not we are still excited about this journey.
My friend who has been staying with the children has been hit with what appears to be some spiritual warfare. Someone is trying to keep her from being a part of this process but she keeps showing up and we are thankful for her commitment. Pray for her.
We have scheduled a home study. Pray for us on March 19th at 1pm EST. My Love will be taking the time away from work (yay!) to be here even though they said he didn't have to. They will take a tour of our house and sit down to ask us some questions. We can't wait.
I also wanted to make clear something as I move forward. For obvious reasons, I will not be able to share any details about the children staying with us. You will never see a photo of them posted. You will never hear the reasons why they entered foster care. But I will share. I will share our joys and our struggles. I will need your prayers. I will be faithful to tell you how the Lord is answering them. Thanks for following us as we take this step of faith. God is always good even when we are in the midst of processing.