four years, sixteen kids

Today Facebook reminded me that four years ago we were first licensed to provide foster care in our county. It was several more months before a child was placed in our home – siblings, actually. I’ve kept each name written in a little notebook, and I have a picture of most of the sweet kiddos who have stayed with us. Some only stayed hours. Others days. Two teeny tiny babies stayed months.

We’ve had great experiences, and terrible, total breakdown moments. Our hearts have been broken over the pain and suffering these little ones have endured. I have been desperate to know how to help more than one screaming baby find comfort, since their mommy couldn’t help.

We have worked with social workers and birth families. We’ve seen kids who have stayed with us join forever families that loved them fiercely. It’s been a joy to see children return to their families who are more ready and equipped to properly care for and parent their kids. We have known that kids were going back into a situation where they could quite probably be hurt again.

It’s been so good, and so hard. Fostering is full of these strange marriages of bitter and sweet, good and bad, hard and easy. It’s good to provide a place for a child who needs a safe home. It’s bad that any child can’t stay with their first family. It’s hard to say good-bye, but it’s easy to hold a tiny infant.

It’s bitter sometimes to put aside what I want to do and what I want my life to look like to care for another child, to lose sleep because a toddler can’t rest in a strange bed…but it’s so very, very sweet to earn the trust and love of a small person who has been hurt so often by the people they should be able to count on always. It’s sweet to see them smile shyly and lean in for a hug. It’s sweet to hear them tell a silly story and laugh together. It’s sweet to see the way God provides for us, physically and emotionally as we soldier through this hard and good thing to which He has called us.

We’re taking a break from (as I’ve called it) “the fosterhood” for awhile. Back to back placements from July-January and very unique circumstances around both of them were taxing. A recharge and regroup was in order. It’s been a crazy adventure, this foster parent thing. But I can definitely say I’m glad we’ve done it and I’m glad we can do it again. Kids need love and people who will care for their souls and bodies. I can do that! We can do that. I’m so glad we can do that.