We’re Not The Only Ones On The Battlefield

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Our call to care for kids in foster care is more about the help they need than it is about our need to help. We cannot use foster care as the means by which we gain our ultimate sense of fulfillment, purpose or meaning.   When we started fostering we knew there would be risk.  We knew that saying yes would change our family forever.  When you are in the midst of trainings you think to yourself your family will never have these issues but the reality is when you foster it’s not if but when an allegation of some sort will reach your families doorstep.

 

And here we are, it happened, and not to me or to my husband but my 15 year old son.  We prepared ourselves right?  We talked to the kids time and time again about appropriate touch, wrestling and how they just are not like you.  As a foster parent you try to tell your bios as much as possible to treat your fosters as a sibling you try to make them know that yes they are different but please don’t treat them differently.

When we said YES to being foster parents we knew that it would impact our bios but I never realized just how much it impacted them.  Simple things from giving each other hugs, brother sister joking around, being in each other’s rooms.  These were just a few of the simple things that would change.  We asked our 12 and 15 year olds to change their lives the way they had been raised, to walk in his light.

Could you imagine asking a 12 and 15 year old to change those habits?  Could you imagine overnight having to share your room, home, and parents with kids that you can’t even love the way you were raised to love.  How about imagine yourself going from the youngest child to the middle child to the 2nd child of 5.  No longer knowing where you fit in in your own family.

Our bios are on the front lines with our fosters.  We ask them to share their lives at home, school, and church with our fosters.  We ask them to give grace to our fosters while we hold them to a higher standard because they know better. 

Do you remember what you were like at that age……I know I was a hot mess.

Our bios are not given any training through the DHS system, they don’t have support groups, except us parents.  In fact, as a foster you are given support, from counseling and camps to extracurricular activities, but as bios, nothing. 

As a bio, when an allegation hits your front door it’s you against DHS and as a mother it hits you.  Have I just sacrificed my son’s future for the future of another child.  She claimed he touched her inappropriately.

What….what do you mean?  Those words that came out of her mouth sucker punched me in my stomach making me gasp for breath.

Anyone knows well any parent knows when you have kids from the age of 2-15 in your home it’s literally impossible to keep them from rough housing, running or just plain annoying each other.  With her simple act of taking his wallet and phone to his simple response of grabbing her ended in a assessment on our home and the decision of removal of her and her brother from our home.  It’s a reminder of how just those simple things we take for granted others have never experienced.  Experienced safe touch, experience “NORMAL” family interaction….experienced a non-broken love.

Our bio was now faced with allegations.  He was faced with something that could change his life forever.  In that moment when she stated those words our heads were spinning.  You contact DHS and file a report, DHS then follow’s up with an interview of your bios and fosters.   You pray and hope that your bios are alright with this process you pray and hope that this does not jade them of the foster care system.  You pray and hope that your fosters understand and know you care about them but just as they want their parents to fight for them we have to do that for our bios.  You keep yourself up all night crying at the fact that you to are giving up on your fosters because they have to move, your bios now state that there not comfortable in their own home and the reality is you are not either.

So here we are after 6 months of breathing into them and loving on them the best way that we know how it’s time for them to move on.  It’s not an easy decision but when I look at my bios I’m reminded just what they have given up and the agreement my husband and me made before we started this process…..If our kids are not happy or comfortable we have to make a change. 

The hard but glorious call of the Christian life, in all arenas, is to lose yourself in order to truly find yourself in Jesus (Matthew 16:25). It's to humbly take up the cross of your own death daily so that in Jesus you may find life (Luke 9:23). The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus never calls us to do anything that He hasn't first willingly, joyfully and perfectly done for us. His call for us to lose our lives is but a mere signpost to the great loss He endured on our behalf. His call for us to carry the cross is but a shadow of the death He joyfully carried in our place.

We knew it was time no matter how our hearts broke we knew one thing we were just one chapter in our fosters book.  We knew our chapter was full of His light and love that they had never witnessed before.  We had seen how His love had allowed our fosters to grow and learn and be a part of a family.  We also know that the uncomfortable paragraph in our chapter would push us all.  We learned about boundaries, we learned about consequences, we learned where DHS is letting our bios down and I was reminded just how faithful He is.

In light of the Gospel, our call to care for vulnerable kids is the joyous privilege we have to lose ourselves for their sakes because He first lost Himself for ours. We carry the burden of their trouble because He first carried the unjust and undeserved weight of ours to His death. He is the Hero in all of this - we are but shadows. He is the Hero - we are but signposts.

We don’t strut into their stories with a cape on our shoulders; we crawl into them with the Cross on our back. This is our great hope, that in all of our efforts for them we are ultimately free from the burden of trying to make it about us. There’s only room in the gospel for one hero – and it’s not us.