Like our adoption journies, I want to be honest about our fostering journey. Yes, I'm scared. I'm scared where this journey will take us. I'm scared of the tears I know I'll shed. You hear plenty of hard stories that aren't just about being a foster parent and loving on a child that's not your own, but things that are wrong and broken and make something that's already unbearably hard even worse. Going in we know full well that this system is broken. It's fraught with over-worked and under-paid case workers and so so so many children. Arizona is not a rich state. Not that all the problems come from this, but it's a border state with lots of border issues that came with that, and among them are too many children who need foster families like yesterday. And not nearly enough families to go around.
I tried to explain here why we got started again on getting our foster license. 3 year olds should not be in group homes. Older children shouldn't be in homeless shelters. Children shouldn't have to stay in their case worker's offices because there is nowhere else to go. And this is happening on a regular basis in this state.
And we just could Not. Ignore. It. Anymore.
I think Papa has his eyes a little more wide open than me, but I'm going into this a little bit blindly. I cannot, and I will not put too much thought into the tears that I know I'm going to shed and the broken system, because if I did, I know there's a real possibility that I may not do it at all. Intentionally, I'm walking into this obediently. We know the problems. We know what's coming. And yet we're still doing it, because with all the faults of a system that's broken, it doesn't change the fact that there are children in my community right now that need a home. They need love and acceptance and family. And that fact does not change no matter how broken and stupid and frustrating and bad and abominable and damaging the system is.
And we can do that.
We should do that.
Even if it hurts.
Here's an example of how hard it already is. (And mind you we haven't even gotten started yet!)
Bethany wrote to me after I asked for some support. Currently, she's a foster mom of 3 sweeties. She gave us some wonderful and very practical advice.
The biggest thing to be doing now is to be praying for the child and the birth family, that God is going to be connecting you with. Because there is going to be trauma for all involved when a child comes into your home.
I stopped. I had to read it several times over. 'Cause here's the thing. So far our experience is with adopting children with special needs internationally. When we adopted Tess, Jude and Mimi, we expected the trauma when we got them. We knew that their world was going to be turned upside down the moment they came into our care. And children who come into foster care aren't that much different in that respect. They are removed from a family they love and belong to (no matter how dysfunctional it is) and placed in new homes. That loss, no matter if it takes place halfway across the world or in the same city, is traumatic. But here's the difference that slapped me in the face. The children placed in international adoption have been separated from their first family for a long while before coming into a forever family. They've been in institutions or foster families for a months or years as their adoptions are processed.
The child that will be coming into our home via foster care will be torn from his first family and placed with ours in a matter of 24 hours. Tess Jude and Mimi were safe. They were abandon as newborns, placed into orphanages and placed with us 1-2 years later. The next child that comes to our home is not safe, and will be taken from his family and placed with ours in about 24 hours or less. If an abrupt separation isn't bad enough, she is living in a really bad place right this very moment. She is not safe. Right now, wherever he is, it is not a good home for a child to be. The child God will be connecting with us, in this very moment, is in a bad place. This mama (or whoever is the primary caregiver is) is not caring for her child they way she should. I have no idea if this child is being neglected or abused, or abandoned, sexually, physically, emotionally... but for absolutely certain one or more of those things is happening and it is happening right now as you read this.
And...if that wasn't bad enough... where ever he is right now, it is going to get worse. It's going to get so bad that someone is gonna to notice it and won't be able to be silent. How do I know it's going to get worse? Because if it doesn't, that child won't come into our care. There is no use praying that the current situation for this child will get better. Because simply put, it won't. It will only deteriorate to the point that someone will take this child away. Because those are the children that come into foster care. And frankly, I'm not sure how to pray for that. How do you pray for someone when for 100% for certain more bad choices will be made and things are going to get worse?
I'm stumbling through it.
I'm stumbling through my prayer, trying to find the right words to pray for both the child and yes, for her first family whose life is bad now and will be getting worse soon.
I'm doing my best.
And He understands.