The WHY of Foster Care - is Him!

For the past six weeks, we have been swimming in foster care training. Reading articles, watching videos, filling out questionaries, taking quizzes, completing worksheets, and spending dozens of hours in classes. When we first received the list of required training hours it was a touch overwhelming, but it has proved to be the best part of the process thus far. Every article, every video clip, every class is a catalyst for deep and thought-provoking conversation. Sometimes, the information is so intense Dennis and I just look at each other and say nothing, knowing there are no words to express the thoughts and emotions tumbling about in each of us. More often than not, what we are studying triggers memories and hurts and struggles from our own past and within our own hearts, and we are forced to take a scrutinizing look at ourselves to work through emotions and memories long forgotten, or ignored.

They say that the foster world is filled with grief. The grief of the parents, the children, the siblings, extended family, friends, social workers, therapists, police, doctors, judges, lawyers ... everyone who shares a piece of the trauma involved when a child is removed from her home. And they are right. But I would add one more group to the list - the foster parents. I can only speak for our agency, but to make sure an applicant is mentally, emotionally, and physically stable to engage in the traumatic world of foster care, they do not just "dust off" the visible artifacts - they excavate! Relationships, family, childhood, teen years, marriage, parenting, personal struggles, coping mechanisms, sin ... all of it is pulled up and laid bare. And in that process, something interesting (and often unexpected) is discovered. Grief.

Grief for what was. Grief for what should have been. Grief for mistakes. Grief for ignorance. Grief for injustice. Grief for poor choices. Grief for broken relationships. Grief for wounds that healed but still left scars. Grief for improper thinking. Grief for hurtful memories. Whether discovered in huge, obvious piles or tucked into tiny spaces ... grief exists, and it must be confronted.

At the beginning of every live training session, the question is asked, "Why are you here?"
Dennis and I know our "why." The Lord has called us to foster care with an incredibly loud and clear voice. There is not a hint of ambiguity, confusion, or doubt. But friends, I will confess that there are moments when my mind and my body are gripped with fear when I think about the realities of what lies ahead. Having a baby in our home is the easy part. It is the 20-30 hours each week of birth parent visits, social worker meetings, doctor appointments, therapy sessions, court dates, and phone calls that set my heart racing. Then, the enemy creeps into my thoughts to taunt me. "Really, Michelle? You think you can manage all of that AND take care of your family AND homeschool? Please. You are so ill-equipped for this." (That is the kindest of the taunts.) I know his goal is to discourage me, to take my eyes off of Christ and focus them on myself. I KNOW this. And yet I listen long enough to feel the panic rise and the icy fingers of fear begin to grip my heart.

Every time - every time - the enemy is whispering in my ear, the Lord rescues me by reminding me WHY we are walking into this fierce spiritual battle called foster care. An article, a video clip of a child being abused, a heart-wrenching journal entry of a foster child, the truth that they did not choose foster care (it was chosen for them), their confusion and fear, the brokenness of the birth parents, the stories of healing and redemption. The Lord uses each one of these to drown out the voice of the enemy so I can hear HIS voice say, "Michelle. I know you are not equipped, but you don't need to be. I know what I am doing, and we will walk through this together, one day and one step at a time. And daughter, the answer to your question is simple. You are doing this - for Me."

Thank You, Lord, for being a God who never lets go of His children. Thank You for being a God of order, and not chaos. Thank you that fear never comes from You, and for having the power to destroy fear when the enemy wields it as a weapon. Thank You for being a God who turns despair into dancing and lamentations into laughter. There is nothing You cannot handle and nothing You cannot redeem.
Please, Lord, redeem the foster world. There is nothing it needs more - than You. 

♥ This piece of art was lovingly created by a precious sister in the Lord,
and hangs on our nursery wall to remind us every day that the answer to the "why"
of foster care is simple. It's HIM. ♥