Suicidal, difficult, troubled, hopeless, provocative, failure, harmful to others, dropout, no future, unattached…
Yes, those descriptions bother me, too. Would you willingly throw yourself into a position to parent someone who exhibits one or all of those behaviors? Perhaps.
Sweet, tender, tiny, newborn, life, giggly, cuddly, cute, dependent, beginning, hopeful future, attached…
Now these words sound much more pleasant. Those precious little babies we all think about who delight others just by simply being alive. I want to foster these happy babies, the ones who have not gone through years of trauma, and I am not ashamed to say so.
I used to feel guilty for only being willing to take in infants with no medical issues and an easier birth parent visitation schedule. We said no to a healthy baby girl with a father in jail for murder because we didn’t want to risk our bio children’s safety. So many other children have lived through major trauma and cannot function normally because they have never experienced a loving home life. Jesus opens His arms to all for salvation, so why can’t I open my arms to all who need a family and a home? The guilt kept nagging at me.
But then I remembered Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12. The body of Christ, which includes all of us who believe, has different members who perform different functions. We are not all called to do everything. God might gift us in one or more ways, but never does He command us to do it all.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
His Word is my assurance and comfort that this is where He has put our family. We foster babies and it’s perfectly delightful and right.
We will never fully understand the lives of the birth parents or why they put themselves in a position to have their children taken away because we have never walked in their shoes. My husband and I had wonderful childhoods and our nuclear families were intact. That is a weakness of ours, but we try to understand. We reach out to the birth parents, befriend them, pray for them, tell them about Jesus, and cheer them on until the court finally gives them their children back or moves them on to another family.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Another weakness of mine is that I don’t like major disruptions in our routine. I homeschool three boys who have many extracurricular activities. Older foster children can create major disruptions to everyone’s routine, attitudes, and much more. So maybe God will turn that weakness into a strength one day. Maybe one day the power of Christ will dwell in me in a different way and give me a nudge to take an older child.
I admire those who are drawn to the distraught teen or who jump right into those older elementary and junior high years. Heavyweight foster parents are tough parts of the body of Christ! God’s strength in them is so apparent as they persevere through many storms. We had a teen once and I felt like a failure.
Perhaps one day God will call us to parent children who have gone through much more in their short lives, but for now, our family’s niche is to open our arms to infants. I love how much they need to nap because I can use that quiet time to homeschool my boys. I don’t mind if they are newborns and require feedings through the night. I much prefer the physical exhaustion of babies over the mental exhaustion of older children. They don’t talk back and they are always excited to see me.
Yet they have also experienced the greatest trauma already in their extremely brief lives, that of being taken away from their birth family. They may have experienced drug abuse in utero, neglect after birth, or found to be living in an unsafe environment.
It’s ok to be a lightweight foster parent. Will you consider being this part of the body? You are so very needed.