Please enjoy this guest post by my son that was written 12/16, shortly after we adopted our little ones…
Foster care and adoption are not just important, but vital in the changing state of America and the world. But, when asked about it, it seems that many people have similar responses to foster care. It’s the same response that I had when my parents first told my brothers and I that had decided to become foster parents:
“We’re too busy.”
“Our lives are too crazy.”
“It’s impossible for us.”
And I get it, really. I thought for sure that if anybody had (and still has) an excuse for not doing something more, it was my family. Two parents with full time jobs, and four teenage sons with full-time lives.
My mom especially had an excuse not to take on any more kids, as she’s still parenting her boys (major shout-out all the moms; you make the world go round)! But my parents took the plunge. My mom quit her job to devote time to it, and we were along for the ride.
And I’m so glad it happened. My perspective, along with my life, was rapidly changed. Saying these girls have become our world would be a major understatement, but they weren’t the first.
Since our family started foster care in June 2014, we had several different kids for vastly different amounts of time. We had a few kids for eight months to over a year, including a three-year-old girl and five-year-old brother-sister twins.
We had one two-year-old boy that was dropped off at our house by a police officer one afternoon. We found his story similar to many foster kids’ parents, with a fight breaking out, some sort of substance abuse driving it, and the child being taken.
The officer looked at us solemnly and told us that we would only have him for two days, and then he would be picked up for a more long-term foster placement. He also mentioned that tomorrow was the boy’s birthday.
You better believe that kid had the best birthday of his entire life. He had some sort of mental disability, so he had trouble speaking, but thankfully smiles, laughing, blowing out candles and eating cake don’t require speaking at all.
Throughout the course of fostering, we had the extraordinary privelege of celebrating almost every single child’s birthday, all the while introducing them to our friends along with the concept of foster care in general.
For the last month or so, I’ve thought about this stuff more than almost anything else. I saw this photo the other day, which had some statistics that fascinated me.
It’s 2014 data and the numbers are estimated, but the point still comes across loud and clear; for the problem to be nearly eradicated, less than a third of the church needs to say YES to our kids. In no way am I trying to guilt anyone into fostering or adopting, because for one, it simply doesn’t work that way. Two, the only reason I’m even writing this now is because I had no say in my parents doing it.
“Wow,” people always say. “I can’t believe you guys do this. It takes a special kind of person to take care of and love all these kids.”
And that’s true… to a point. But you mean to tell me that if a cop dropped off a two-year-old boy in your driveway and his birthday was the next day, you wouldn’t make him a birthday cake? Here’s the only “special” quality you need to be a foster parent:
In Matthew 19, Jesus insists the children be brought to him to pray for. He says the Kingdom of Heaven itself belongs to them. God speaks to Joseph, Samuel, David, and countless other youth throughout the Bible. Why did he pick them? I have no idea, and they didn’t either. But they were willing to follow the call, and amazing, crazy, impossible things occurred because of it. Another thing these stories make clear to me is that young people matter to God. If young people matter to God, then no matter what, no matter who, I believe God will take care of those working for this (his) cause.
Romans 8:28 speaks to this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
One of the clearest memories of my entire life is from one of the first nights we had our three-year-old foster girl. I had just heard my parents tuck her in for the night from down the hall, and about three seconds later she started sniffling. Then it was crying. Then full-on wailing. She just kept repeating the same phrase through the tears:
”I want my mommy… I want my mommy…”
I promptly went down to my room, buried my face in my pillow, and began wailing into it with the same audacity that she was. All I could do was start to pray for her, just asking for comfort, peace… anything. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what was happening to me, or why I was feeling the way that I was. Then, very clearly, I remember feeling like God was speaking to my heart:
“This is just a sliver of what I’m feeling.”
When people pray for God to ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’ I’m not sure they understand the full effect. I am reminded of Exodus 33 where Moses is meeting with God and God tells Moses that he is going to show Moses some of his glory, but he cannot look at the face of God, because nobody can do it and live. It’s comical, really, that we ask for so many things with zero knowledge of their full meaning, and if God were to answer some of them we would already be dead. I also believe in God’s purpose being accomplished through people and things other than devout Christians: from non-Christian humans to talking donkeys to a phantom hand writing on the wall, He shows no bounds.
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
You can do it. I strongly believe in, and believe I have seen, God adminster supernatural strength and hope when the situation has seemed impossible to bear (and all the moms said amen). But even if you don’t believe in that, fostering for me very quickly became less of “I have to care for this kid” and more “what can I do to let this kid know that they are worth more than diamonds?” The hardest part for me was learning to set aside my me-focused lifestyle and move my focus to the family–and do my best to welcome any kids we got the best way that I could.
To all those who work with youth and kids:
Youth/kids pastors and leaders.
School bus drivers.
And SO many more…
Your job is hard. It is not easy. Thank you for every good impression that you make. These are our young people, and they matter.
To learn more about Jayson’s company, Valued Clothing, or to read more blog posts, click here.
Want to know how you can help support foster families? Read What’s Missing in Foster Care.