The last week, there is a song I have found that has spoken volumes to my fears about fostering again and yet the reality of loving this precious baby "little miss sunshine" as if she were flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I have played the song continuosly on repeat and wept over what the lyrics mean to me at this present season of our lives. Please take a moment to listen to this powerful song and hear the lyrics before reading on:
Today's version of "that's what she said" is a hodgepodge of quotes and blogs that comes from a couple different sources (a fellow foster mom's blog I follow and a foster mom's memoir I just finished reading reading titled "The Middle Mom"). Both resonate within me so much. Both are as if the orginal authors opened my chest, read my heart, and articulated that which I could not! Hope you are as blessed as I reading these words....
Lessons From "The Middle Mom"
"if not you, who? If not now, when?"
"when people find put that I am a foster parent, they inevitably say 'I could never do that! I'd want to keep every single one. Don't you get attached?' I know they are well meaning but I must admit it kinda drives me crazy. I want to say 'no duh!' but instead comeback with a more gracious statement like this 'yes it is extremely difficult to let a child go that you have loved and cared for, but the lord has shown me that that is EXACTLY the person that needs to be caring for these misplaced children. If I could separate myself from loving and attaching to the child and just feel like I'm babysitting rather than being a real mother, God would have never called me to do this. So maybe YOU are actually the perfect person to be a foster parent!'"
On communities of foster/ adoptive parents:
"we carry each other. We carry each other through the joys, the craziness, the profound sorrow that is foster care. No one understands me like they do because they have lived it. They know me well. They know I take on more than I can handle sometimes, and often, it's not pretty. They know I love to shop for baby clothes. They know I'm passionate about my family, my ministry, and about foster children specifically. Together they form a live boat that has carried me home safely many times. I love them dearly and am so grateful that we are sharing this journey together."
"I feel strongly as believers it is not necessarily our job to fix or change the broken system (DHS, SRS, CPS). It is our job to serve and love the children and the workers within that system to make a difference in their lives because Jesus made a difference in our lives. I guess what I am trying to say is that a broken system is no excuse, no reason, to neglect intervening on a child's behalf; it only makes God's provision for that child so much sweeter."
"this is what I was born to do! It is unbelievable to think that the Lord would choose to use me, someone who is so fallible, inadequate, and unworthy, to care for these children that He holds so dearly.
I have been overwhelmed with love, joy and excitement, and been flung down with grief. I have been amazed at the support of those around me and been astounded at the prejudice that still exists in the world today. I have watched my own children nurture, comfort, fall in love with,and pray for each little child that is "ours" for a time. I have realized my weaknesses and the Lords strength.
I know that there are many sacrifices in foster care that come in various forms. There is lack of sleep, lack of quality family time, lack of intimate time with my husband, lack of time for myself. There are friends functions we can not attend.
And finally there is the unexplainable grief, the deep feeling of loss, the death of a relationship and the worries that accompany the grief. Will this child be safe? Feed? Have clothes to wear? Be loved and protected? Achieve their God given potential? Know that God loves him/her? Come to know Jesus? Will this child ever know how much I love him/her? In the midst of all these questions comes the penetrating truth that God is in control. He is able. He has a plan and is sufficient!"
"I just couldn't do it, I just couldn't give them back."
I hear that VERY often when I tell anyone I am a foster parent.
It is like, by saying that, they are excusing themselves from the feelings that they feel when they find out someone else stepped up and did this sucky foster care thing and they didn't.
Obviously, fostering is not for everyone or right for everyone...
BUT to all you people that say this to me, with out any honest good reason,
(like you have already lost a child, have been there and done it with a relative placement, are having issues with fertility, ect.)
I just have to say...Shut up.
You have no idea who you are talking to, what I have been through or what you are even saying.
Do you think I felt like I could give my first daughter back to her mom without dealing with the grief of it every day for the rest of my life?
I can't do it either. I just do because it is either do it or go to jail basically.
What you don't understand is that I knew the risk and decided that my kids would be worth it. Period.
And they have been. Every single one of them.
What you don't realize is that by me deciding to take care of these kids and love them like my own even though in the end I am the one that looses them I am taking every bit of pain off of them that I can and even then they still go through more than any child should. Ever.
That is what I have to offer them. I keep them safe. I stand up for them (even though I am ignored on a regular basis). I feed them. I play with them. I make them smile. I kiss their boo boos. I put them in their comfy beds. AND IT IS MY HONOR TO DO IT.
And what do you offer? Nothing. You offer an off hand comment that excuses you from any of this, including helping any of them, because you would "love them to much to let them go"? And for the record, that makes us feel like you are saying we are so cold and heartless that we can actually even do this in the first place.
So, "you love them so much" from afar while they end up in crappy foster homes who only do it for the money.
Way to show your love.
If you can't foster, don't.
But, if you are the "We couldn't let them go" people...consider helping someone who HAS put themselves right where you DON'T want to be.
Pay special attention to the kids when you see them.
Babysit for the family.
Offer to pray AND REALLY DO IT!
Bring a meal when the family gets a new placement.
Help with the kids when you see foster mom has her hands full.
I would say for every comment I get like that I also have one person in my life that doesn't foster, but truly loves my kids and blesses me like crazy. I don't think everyone should foster and I don't think ANYONE should foster out of guilt, but quit making excuses for yourself and just do what God called YOU to do...and stop talking to me about why you couldn't possible do what I do...'cuz it makes me want to tell you to "shut up".