365 Days of Foster Care

A whole year has passed.  A whole entire year has went by since we got our very first foster care placement.  And, what a year it has been.  We have had times of joy, times of laughter, and times of smiles mixed with times of fear, uncertainties, and panic.  We’ve had therapy appointments, doctor appointments, specialist appointments, and hospital stays. We’ve had foster care meetings, training sessions, family visits, and multiple court dates to attend. And, I must not forget the daily notes and medication logs that are to be written at the end of each day plus the expense form that is to be filled out and turned in each month.  There are also a slew of other things that have to be updated every so often such as proof of car and house insurance, driving records, TB tests, background checks, physicals, and the list goes on and on. But through it all, God’s been good.

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It has been a humbling experience as we have been blessed to watch how far our first sweet placement has come since the proper medical treatments and therapies have been carried out. My mommy intuitions kicked in within the first few minutes of him being placed in my arms at 4 months old. Mommy intuitions are so important when caring for a child in the foster care system. Most of the children have experienced trauma in their lives, and developing the perfect treatment plan is extremely important.  Putting an effective plan in place determines whether or not the children will begin to thrive. These children become yours the second they come into your home.  They might not stay forever, but they are yours for the length of time God sees fit. And you become their mommy and daddy, and your children become their brothers and sisters.  Let that sink in for just a few minutes.

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That’s been the hardest part for me in this foster care world.  It’s a world that I couldn’t ever fully explain if I tried.  You have to enter it to understand what all it entails. You have to be a part of it before you can understand why all of those emotions mentioned above can all occur so closely together. Our family felt led by the Lord to become a foster family, but until we got our first placement, we truly didn’t know what it meant to be a foster family.

There have been times where we felt totally helpless especially after we got our second true foster care placement.  We had a family placement before our second foster care placement.  But, that was a temporary situation. She didn’t stay very long.  We love her dearly, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for her to stay with us.

Our second true placement left me feeling broken inside.  I knew God was going to move this precious little girl not long after she came to live with us.  He showed me time and time again that He had to move her.  I fought it for so long, but one day I had to let go. I know it was for the best because it was His perfect plan.  However, I wear my heart on my sleeve so to speak.  There were many days where I absolutely felt inadequate while trying to learn how to best care for this precious three year old who had been through more than you could ever imagine, but I still loved her so deeply.  Our whole family did despite the trials and heartaches that we endured those three months.  Our kids went through a lot, but I pray it made them stronger.  I pray it showed them what true sacrifice for the Lord requires.  It isn’t ever going to be easy when God asks us to step out on faith and do what He has called us to do. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t obey and do it anyway.

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It is important to obey and just as equally important to understand that His will cannot be accomplished in our own power.  I learned that the hard way over the past 365 days. So many days, I tried to carry the weight of the foster care system on my shoulders without fully relying on God’s strength.  Those days were full of uncertainties.  Those days led me to becoming very ill and being hospitalized because of a sickness that I have apparently had for many years without a proper diagnosis. The stress of not being able to control God’s plans for these precious children brought me to a very low point in my life.  It has brought me to a point where I have needed to be for a very long time.  It has brought me to the point of learning how to have complete dependence in our Lord.  No matter how badly I wanted to, I never truly had control of the outcome of my health, the foster care system, or anything else that has occurred in my life for that matter.  Before this trial, my stubbornness and lack of faith made me want to have control time and time again. God wants our dependence to be in Him.

Since leaving that hospital room after a week long stay, God has placed a sense of gratefulness in my heart for the suffering I have endured through this trial.  While in the hospital, I became aware of an apparent autoimmune disorder that has wreaked havoc on my body. Further bloodwork also revealed that there are possibly more than one causing issues. The doctors are working to find the proper medication in order to achieve remission. I trust the Lord already has the treatment all planned out.  He knows what will work and what will not.  I am going to leave all of the decisions up to Him.  While I wait for Him to show us what is going to work, I am enjoying getting closer to Him.  He has restored the joy of my salvation.  A joy that should have been present every single day of the last 365.

I am thankful for the lessons that the Lord is teaching me through this suffering.  If He would not have brought me to one of the lowest points with my health, then I would still be stressing.  I would still be worrying.  I would still be walking in my own strength instead of trusting His perfect plan.  I would still be letting the world pull me in every direction.  I would still be questioning every decision that the Lord has asked us to make. Through this trial, I have been able to truly recognize God’s sovereignty.  I believe His plan will take place, and no matter the outcome, I accept His perfectness. His thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts, and His ways are so much higher than my ways.

And since his ways are so much better than mine, despite me choosing to walk in my own strength too many times this past year, the Lord has continued to allow our very first placement to brighten up our days. I will not let the enemy rob me of the joy of getting to spend each new day with this precious child.  Joy will be present in each passing moment.  God is my strong tower. We don’t know what God has planned for our family, but I do know He is working in the background.  I do know that He will use us in a great way if we allow Him.  My prayer is to be able to show Christ to all of those we come in contact with on this foster care journey.  Sometimes it is tough being a Christian in this fallen world because our ways are not going to line up with what a broken system sees as right.  Our family has had to make very difficult decisions in order to stand up for what we believe as God’s children.  Those decisions often led to falling down at the altar in tears and praying because it was so difficult to see how a certain decision could really be God’s divine plan.

Through it all, especially over the past few weeks, I have learned not to question God’s decisions.  Some decisions that we have had to make on this bumpy road have been difficult, but I know they were right.  Even if I still can’t see the big picture, they were still the right decisions to make. For example, we recently had to say no to adding two more children to our home. We felt God urging us to say no.  It was so difficult to say not right now, but we have to trust God to guide us down the right path as we continue this journey. Also, as I mentioned earlier, one of the toughest decisions was letting go of our second placement. It was at that moment, we realized as a family that we most likely wouldn’t ever get to see her in person again.  But, I do still see her every night because she is the one who is holding my hand in the picture hanging beside my bed. She’s the same three year old that little Jayce said he was coloring a picture of just a few nights ago and asked if we could drive in the car to see her. Despite the hurt and pain, I trust God. I will no longer stress over the decisions He asks us to make. I choose to accept difficulties with thanksgiving while anticipating blessings from the Lord. He always goes before us, and He’s always working in the background. These truths are being reiterated time and time again as I study His Word and as I read my Jesus Calling devotion each day.

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I cannot let the foster care system shape me or mold me. I cannot make decisions based on the emotions that such an intense system brings.  Instead, I will simply obey God and do what He has asked us to do: show love to hurting children by bringing them into our home in His timing. These children need Christ, and His love is the greatest gift of all. His love brings us all closer to Him.

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As I have grown closer to Christ these past few weeks, He has used His Word to teach me how He utilized those in the Bible who simply were willing to obey. In the book of Matthew, Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord. In the book of Esther, Queen Esther obeyed, and God used her in a mighty way.  A way that she probably never imagined. And, there are so many others in the Bible who simply chose to obey what the Lord asked them to do. And because of this, God was able to use them to bring forth His plan and purpose.  That’s my desire as we continue this foster care journey.  I simply want to obey exactly what God asks us to do. I not only want to obey, but I also want to be filled with faith instead of uncertainties.  The devil uses our fears, worries, and uncertainties to make us useless for God’s calling on our lives.  I refuse to let that happen. I cannot get well and have enough strength to carry out God’s will in my life by allowing Satan to defeat me.  I do not want to be filled with fret, worry, anxiety, and fear.  I want to be filled with the Spirit.

I am sure most of you reading have heard how drawn out the foster care process can be.  Maybe you have even experienced it yourself. But, if you haven’t, as I mentioned earlier, 365 days have already come and gone since our first placement was brought to our door. If a child is not moved shortly after placement, then finalization can take well over a year or more. The process is not only long, but it is complicated as well. The lengthiness and complications can bring about the fret, worry, anxiety, and fear. I will be the first to admit that I have the type of personality where I want things to happen quickly.  I want answers right now. I have a great desire to know without delay if the child will return home, be placed with relatives, or possibly be adopted. For the most part, the foster family is not involved in this decision making process. And, separation from the foster family is always a great possibility. That separation can happen within a few weeks, a few months, or it could take as long as a few years! Separation from the foster family isn’t always a negative thing. Separation hurts because the foster family and the children in foster care have emotions and attachment and bonding happens, but the brokenness that these biological families experience also brings great pain. There is always a great sense of brokenness that the biological families and children experience when a child is taken into state custody.  That brokenness is always present until those families allow the Lord to heal them. The Lord wants them to be healed. As a foster family, we have to leave that healing up to the Lord.  He knows exactly what will happen and when it will happen. We can’t carry the burden of their brokenness on our shoulders alone, but we have to surrender it to the Lord. We have to pray for them and ask God to bring them to salvation.  Only the truth makes free!  And that truth is Jesus Christ.  God will decide where these children need to be, and it’s simply our job to love them and care for them. He will shows us His plan in His timing.

I’ve slowly began to realize that no matter how much I long to know all of the answers pertaining to the child’s future, 99 percent of the time those answers will never come quickly. Not knowing what will happen doesn’t mesh well with me not being a champ at waiting for answers.  However, I know that the Lord understood my personality before He called me to be a foster mom.  He was not surprised when I started muddling through the process on my own.  He knows how I am. But, I can also tell you that He hasn’t ever been pleased with my desire for hastiness. It clearly states in Proverbs that hastiness is not of the Lord.  I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord has used this past year to teach me that humbly trusting and waiting on His timing is the only way. I have written about waiting on the Lord many times before, but I continued to struggle to trust His timing this past year.  I cannot be in His will and be used by Him if I don’t trust Him. And, I do not want to miss the opportunity to show others exactly who God is, so I have had to humbly let go of my demands.  I have let go of thinking my timing is more perfect than His timing.  I have let go of any expectations that may not be in His plans.  I have surrendered to Him: my life, this sweet baby’s life, the other children’s lives that have gone from our home, and the lives of the ones we had to turn away. I trust Him to make the right decisions for our lives and theirs.  Why did I ever think my timetable was better than His? My flesh can never accomplish what the Spirit can! As the Spirit continues to help us push forward and trust God’s perfect plan (whatever it may be), will you please pray for our family?

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Thankfully, God has not allowed us to give up.  Through it all, He has been right where we’ve needed Him. Even if from time to time, I let my eyes slip away from Him and tried to bear all of the burdens on my own that come along with being a foster mom, He still had His hand in mine.  He is long suffering. He was waiting for true surrender. I am thankful for all He has taught me. I am thankful that He has taught me what surrendering to Him truly entails. I am thankful that He has allowed me to see how much he desires the brokenness of these families to be healed.  I am also thankful that our family will continue to step out in faith and allow the Lord to continue to use us as we so graciously love on and care for His precious boy and any others that He may bring our way!

We are willing to do whatever God asks us to do in this foster care world because we know His plans are perfect. It is our duty as Christians to love those that the world has thrown away. What better way to do that than through the foster care system? You not only get the opportunity to show the children who God places in your home Christ’s love, but those children also have a family who is hurting.  A family who is broken.  A family who needs Jesus. God knows their hearts.  He knows what will happen with the seed that He asks us to plant. We have to trust Him to work out every last detail whatever the outcome may be with the child and their family. We are to plant a seed and let God do the rest. Will it be easy? Absolutely, hands down, No! Will it be worth it? Absolutely, hands down, Yes! I challenge you to ask God how you can be used by Him.  As Christians, we can change the world: one child at a time.

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If you have ever thought about entering the foster care world or adopting, pray about it.  Do not jump into it without making sure it is God’s perfect plan for your family.  It is a difficult journey that cannot be traveled alone. As I mentioned above, I learned that the hard way.  But, I am so thankful for the difficult lessons that I have endured and the loving correction that has came from the Lord. He is a merciful loving God who is so willing to teach us how to walk this life in complete peace with Him by our side.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.

Romans 8:18 – For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The books that have really helped me since my hospital stay are:

The KJV Bible (always a must!)

Through the book of Esther Finding Security in an Insecure World by Wendy Burks (I highly recommend for every woman to read this book.  You will not regret it! It will change your perspective and your life.)

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Jesus Calling Devotional Journal by Sarah Young (I love to be able to journal how each devotional applies to my life.)

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Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children by Sarah Janisee Brown (This book motivated me to seek out God’s perfect will as He teaches me how to be the wife and mom He has called me to be.  I will not let this trial define me, but in the midst of it, I will do the things God has called me to do.  And, with his strength and power, and with a lot of prayers, I will strive to do them well.)

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