Many of you have asked about an update about our foster care situation so here ‘tis! Here is kind of a general idea of where the kids’ cases are, as well as how we are doing as a result.
Reunification. It’s a word that should be simple, but for anyone in the foster care world, it is far from simple. It’s an idea that is extremely complex and impossible to nail down, yet it defines this broken system.
When we entered foster care, I had a picture in my mind of what it would be. It was a broken-beautiful that I could not wait to be a part of. I loved the idea of being a part of this ugly system right down to its rotten core. I did not realize the incredible imbalance of broken over beautiful.
Our Foster-baby’s case is somewhat simple. We are about to “intervene” or have a seat at the table in the discussions of this sweet one’s future. Once we do we can hopefully move that she stay with the family she recognizes as her own (as we have had her from the time she was only a few weeks old.) Once we sit at that table we must wait until everyone is finished eating before we can be excused, meaning- once we are in, we’re in. Every court date, meeting and appointment my husband and I must attend if we are to look like a legitimate party. Please pray for us as this can be an extremely slow and time consuming process.
Our Foster-toddler’s case has taken lots of ugly turns over the 6-almost 7 months he has been in our home. We wanted so badly to love on his family, especially his Mama who has lived a life this small farm town, Baptist raised, Mama can even comprehend. We haven’t seen his Mama in months. She is no longer safe for me or even her own son to be with. While this absolutely breaks my heart, the most unsettling development in this case is a legal loophole that is being explored. People whose names are on birth certificates (and their relatives) have more legal rights to a foster child than those who have had this child in their care for half a year. This is regardless of whether or not they are biologically related to the child. This loophole makes these people viable options for permanent placement of the child even if they have never met and live all the way across the country. We are seeking the help of an attorney in this matter.
As a parent you will do anything to protect your child. Anything to make sure he has the best life possible. As foster parents you feel exactly the same way however, there are government employees, lawyers and judges who get to decide how you protect that child and what to do to give that child his best shot.
I was recently listening to a song that has meant much to my husband and I over the last few years, God of Heaven. There are so many beautiful lines and powerful promises that flow along with the melody but one that I am clinging especially hard to in this time. “…God of power…. Goes before us into battle…” Yes, the God of power goes before me. He is on the front lines, he is going before us into this battle. I have never stepped foot in a court room before, but my God is the righteous judge. We literally cannot afford by any means to pay for this attorney, but my God is Jehovah Jireh. I cannot do anything to stop this harm from coming to our precious boy, but my God is the Good Shepherd.
There is a lot of sadness in these words but believe it or not I still am in love with this broken-beautiful. Toddler-boy and Baby-girl have changed our family in a way that nothing else could have. They have taught us that the broken doesn’t have to be ugly or disgraceful. They have taught us that wallowing deep in the midst of the brokenness of others has a strange way of healing parts of us we didn’t know needed healing. They have taught us to love in a risky, sacrificial, whatever means possible, (dare I say) radical way that Jesus did. They have been our Zacchaeus, our woman at the well, our Eve in the garden, our prodigal son and have allowed us to learn and try our very best to respond as Jesus did. While these things have changed our family and pressed us into the character of Christ, foster care has taught our family three other very important things; what community is, the true meaning of mercy, and what the Gospel looks like with hands and feet.
Community is something I talk about a lot these days. I never had it before but I always blamed those around me for. Community isn’t necessarily something you are invited into and made a part of (even though that is a part of it.) Community must be cultivated and you are the only one who can cultivate it for yourself or your family. Foster care has created in us a need to get our hands dirty, dig deep into the soil of fellowship- koinia.
Mercy was always a vague song lyric for me. I know, pretty shallow of me, right? I never really understood it until we began this journey. Mercy is ignorance. Our sovereign God created us- in his mercy- to be un-sovreign. If we had known what was coming toward us on this journey. Foster care overall, but even the day in and day out waiting for tantrums of a traumatized child to subside, hoping and praying that a biological family member would come to visit so you don’t have to try and explain to that heart-broken child why they are so unwanted by the one on earth who should want them most. Mercy is ignorance. Mercy-ignorance leads to trust. We don’t know what’s coming but God does. He is socreign and has an abundance of mercy and grace waiting around each bend and in each dark corner.
In between the excessive amount of blankets and pillows I use each night my body would lie still but my mind and heart would ache for the families that God was calling us to touch through foster care. I would try and picture a child’s face, I would imagine loving them and their Mama then sending them home to a home restored, and renewed through the Holy Spirit. I pictured this entire story Gospel wrapped with an emotionally happy bow. Oh this story is indeed Gospel wrapped but not at all how I pictured. I’ve always had this problem too. The Gospel to me worked out is grand and elaborate. It sits on a stage proclaiming it’s great story for all to hear. The Gospel working out in my mind has a megaphone and strobe lights calling attention to itself. This is rarely-if ever the case. The Gospel lived out is a still small voice, it is a call into the darkness, it is in the mundane. It is the simple living-out-loving-out of the best news ever told. Often I am asked why I am a foster Mom, I get to simply answer “I want to love others in the same way that God has loved me.” This what it is all about.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” (Matt. 22:36-38)
That is probably more than you bargained for when you asked for an update but allow me to put in one shameless plug. In order to give our toddler boy his best shot we need to hire an attorney. Below is the link to our go fund me. Donate if you can but please pray because that’s what we need most.