Monday, August 12

How do you give them up?

Regarding foster children this question is posed to me over & over again.
And then again.
Truly if I had a dollar for every time it was asked, G & E's college funds would be well funded. :) However, let me give you a peek into my sinful, selfish heart and let you in on something we have come to learn is harder than letting them go. Loving well. It can be hard to love children that are not your own, especially for an extended stay in your home.
The better question for foster parents is not how do you give them up? it is how do you love them well?
Keep in mind that many kids coming into the foster system are often at their worst. They have just been taken from all that's familiar. They present challenges because of various neglect or abuse they have experienced. They have often had very little structure or discipline in their life. Life is thrown into a transitional time of chaos for everyone. 
It's hard to have a peaceful home and bring in kids for whom screaming at each other is normal par for the course.
It's hard to have a 2YO scream no in your face constantly.
It's hard to see stuff get broken & ruined in your house.
It's hard to see your children get bitten multiple times.
It's hard to change hundreds of diapers that are not your child. Especially when they go from a "candy, coke & mcdonalds" diet to whole foods & produce. The diaper situation at transition time around here is often really, really bad. Yes, I have thrown up. :)
It's hard to have other kids put every.single.thing. in your house in their mouth. Especially as snot drains from their nose.
It's hard to have a child that screams at the top of their lungs constantly, for no apparent reason.
It's hard to have kids throw themselves on the floor & tantrum every.single.time you re-direct them. We tend to run a torturous aren't allowed to do things such as chew on cords, eat chalk, fall down stairs, or other things hazardous to their health. :)
There are challenges and it is hard. But I won't for a second say that every minute is bad or that we haven't experienced great benefits through this journey. Let me share some of the mini-miracles we get to share in.
The kids who couldn't identify basic fruits & vegetables. Yelling green pepper, my favorite! as being served.
A child who responds with a glassy stare at being tickled (appearing to not have experienced much touch), rolling with belly laughs at being tickled.
Every single child we have taken in sings "He set my feet on a Rock!" at the top of their lungs.
The 11mo who comes to us with only a juice bottle, not used to formula or solids, eating & drinking (milk) normally within a few weeks.
The 2yo who had never used utensils eating oatmeal with a spoon.
Kids yelling "Bible time!" at 7pm.
Seeing your own kids give unselfishly of their toys, their clothes, & their parents.
An almost nonverbal 2 year old when he comes, 6 weeks later, singing "His name is Jesus!"
A child who screamed bloody murder at being left in a crib, cooing themselves to sleep.
Seeing their joy as they experience fun activities for the first time.
Seeing them being loved on so much by our church family.
Kids hugging and saying sorry to each other.
Another aspect that we completely did not expect was how we can be a blessing to their families. We've had contact with various family members who of course feel slight panic that children they love are in "the system". We are able to put their minds at ease at how the kids are responding, positive changes we are seeing, and share pictures.
We are still so new at this and learning every day. God has to (& does) fill us with grace each day. We fail in our love & patience sometimes. But we pray that He continually works in our hearts to love others as Christ loves us.  
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23
Let me tell you, we have gone through some real grief as some of the children have left our home. It can be hard. Some kids harder than others (wink). But for anyone considering foster care, don't let how do you give them up be the factor you most dwell on. Spend lots of time praying on whether you can love them well.


Stephanie Russell said...

A friend sent me this; thank you for sharing!! My husband and I are just beginning the licensing process to foster, beginning classes this month. :) Our Christian agency has a required reading list, and I just finished the first INCREDIBLE resource, Dr. Karyn Purvis' The Connected Child (the website is phenomenal, too). Looking forward to the sanctification coming our way the next few months. ;)


kellyH said...

Hi Stephanie, thanks so much your comment and sharing those resources. I will definitely check those out! Blessings as you start this journey, I know God will give you much grace and the children whose lives you touch will forever be in your heart.

cranny + me said...

I want to come back later and really REALLY read this post. I am skimming it while pulling dinner out of the oven.

I'm so thankful you're taking time to write out these thoughts. Love you guys.