Foster Care: It's Just Too Difficult

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I've finally faced the fact that it may be months before I have a chance to sit and write an edited and refined post on foster care, especially while I'm actually doing foster care.

So I'm just going to jump in and post thoughts here and there, typos and all, when I'm able and perhaps one day there will be time for more. 

I feel so much when I see this picture, the moment our journey began with a precious newborn.

There's heartache over the reality of his situation. 

There's pain for his family.

There's frustration because of injustice. 

There's relief to be safely in our own home now, and gone from that hospital.

The way God has allowed this little one's story and our's to cross paths blows me away. We don't know yet how long he will be with us, but I'm struck daily by what a privilege and gift it is to care for this tiny human life, for however long that may be.

When talking foster care with people this is one of the concerns I hear most often:

"Oh, that would just be too hard for me. I'd get so attached to the child and then they would just leave! I don't think my heart could handle that."

My heart can't handle it either.

But here's the thing. If we have children of our own, we aren't promised a single day with them. We don't know what the future holds. But we don't use the fear of losing a child as a reason not to have children altogether. 

Rather, we love with all our might, recognizing that each day is a gift. We trust that God has our best in mind, even when things don't play out as we hope.

And foster care can be viewed similarly. I've learned it can be a family's ministry. Adoption might be an outcome, but it might not. The first priority is the vulnerable child who needs care and security. Because of God's grace, that's what we can offer.

So yes, we will get attached. We will likely have our hearts broken. It will be very difficult. We may walk through trials we don't think we can handle. But that's not a reason to withhold love. 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
— John 14:26

Let me also say this. Every foster care placement is extremely unique and there will not always be an immediate sense of love and connection with the child brought into the home. Some placements are a daily struggle (we've been there) and reliance on God becomes a reality like never before.

The truth is, there aren't a ton of families engaged with foster care because it's a complex and difficult thing. It's not glamorous. We are learning that quickly.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
— John 14:26

If we are responding in obedience the Lord will provide what is needed to weather the storm. I don't want to turn around and run at the first sign of difficulty. The deep places of struggle are often what God uses to lift us to a new understanding of the heights of His love.

There are plenty of other challenges and reasons to give careful consideration to whether foster care is right for a family, but the fear of too much love need not be one. The joy experienced in offering love is greater than the pain that may accompany it. 

The depth of joy I've felt caring for our foster son has been unexpected. The situation is riddled with difficulties and unknowns. But for tonight, this sweet one is sleeping peacefully under our roof and surrounded by love.

We are praying for his family and the long road ahead. We are grieved. The emotions run deep. But so does God's faithfulness and His compassion for this precious baby. 

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
— Psalm 46