(Jaso and Avi with our sweet second foster baby
we are unable to show our foster children’s faces in photos due to confidentiality)
Last week, I shared how bringing Avi into our family showed us that we were becoming equipped to parent children from hard places. It is not something I excel at by any means (trust me, I’ll tell you plenty about that over time). But it is something that God calls our family to again and again.
We knew that we couldn’t provide foster care without moving into a bigger home – we already had four children in two small bedrooms, and foster care guidelines in our state would require ten additional square feet in either bedroom in order to allow another child to share one of the rooms. We didn’t have room for more.
We were both open to foster care but we simply didn’t have a living situation that made it possible. We live in a city with rapidly rising housing costs, each year more outrageous than the last. We could not afford to buy or rent a home large enough to add foster children to our family. We prayed about options and asked the Lord to provide a housing solution if He was leading us to foster care.
About two months after we started seriously considering foster care and felt aligned in a desire to move forward, a friend told us that they would be moving out of their five-bedroom home and that it would be available to rent.
Not much later, we moved into that house, which had ample room for foster care; we wouldn’t have been able to afford it without God’s provision. Our friend’s brother owned the home and was willing to rent it to us at a price we could afford, and he did not raise the rent once in his four years as our landlord. And now, even with new owners, we have continued to be able to rent at a rate significantly below comparable homes in the area.
God has shown us many times over the past decade that He resources His call. And still, I panic when money feels tight and repairs are needed or unplanned expenses come up. I learn slowly. But my trust is growing.
Because of God’s provision, and because He has specifically laid it on the hearts of others to surround our family in this endeavor, we have ample room in our home to be a foster family – something that seemed impossible a few years ago.
Once the housing was in place, we were able to begin the home study process. We began in May and had our first foster placement in early September. We welcomed two brothers into our home, a three-year-old little boy and his four-week-old brother. They stayed with us six months and then returned home to their mom.
Since that time, we have had two more infant placements, both baby girls who later went to live with relatives. And our sweet foster daughter, Miss P, was with us for three years. In Miss P’s case, we had hoped to adopt and were well on the way when her case changed abruptly, and she was reunified with adult siblings and cousins who were ready to care for her. We are so thankful to have a positive relationship with her family, and we are able to have her with us a weekend each month.
Foster care is indeed a hard road. The transitions seem constant. Social workers are in and out of your home on a regular basis. Permanency plans shift and change. Relationships with birth families present unique challenges. Children and adults are continually accommodating and adjusting to new personalities. Children leave – sometimes to situations that seem very tenuous. Loss is a regular occurrence. We pour into children we may never see again.
But the need is so great. When we entered the world of adoption, we wanted to be willing to lower our own standard of comfort in order to raise someone else’s. It is the same with foster care. We make the decision to be less comfortable in order to bring safety and stability to vulnerable children (and even to their parents).
It is now five years since we started the process to become foster parents. And we find ourselves talking, planning, praying about our next placement. When each child leaves, I find myself thinking “I don’t think we can do this again.” The emotional toll and the physical exhaustion are significant. But God brings us rest and gives us a renewed vision of His call on our family. And, so far, each time we reach a point when we both feel aligned in being ready to move forward again.
When we are on the verge of bringing a new foster child into our home, my final and greatest struggle is the rest I know I will be losing as we add another child. It’s so hard for me to give up. I know how very tired I can become in the intensity of foster parenting. But when my focus is on Christ, I find myself remembering “I want to die tired.” I want to end this life knowing I used it up, all of it, for Him. Our family is a resource God has gifted to us. Our desire is to spend it for Him.
I love what Francis Chan has to say about his marriage – and I take these words to heart for my own marriage and family:
Even in our victories, we only have time for short celebrations because time is ticking. A quick high-five and then it’s on to the next checkpoint. We may take breaks to catch our breath, but we quickly get back in the race. Similar to Paul, we view our life on earth as a race…and once the finish line is in sight, many runners sprint. They use up every ounce of energy they have left because they know they can collapse once they break the tape…we can run faster as the race goes on. In our final years, we can sprint, knowing that we can collapse into His arms.
Foster care requires much of a marriage and of a family. But we offer it up. We learn to relax the tight hold we keep on our comfort, our easy schedule, our rest. We trade those things for something more. Because they are a small price in exchange for the children He brings to us.
with hope and gratitude,
for more about our family’s foster care experiences, read Our Babies Mothers and 7 Things to Get You Through the Start of a New Foster Placement