I thought about going with a series of “the good, the bad, and the ugly”… but, I just can’t bring myself to actually write something online that I can’t take back that has both “Fostering” and “Bad” in the same title. So, I’m going to just kinda stick with good and ugly. Because, I don’t have the slightest hesitation in admitting that much of foster care is down right UGLY.
*Note… if you’re coming in a little late in the game here, before you ready ANY FURTHER, please read the post that talks about all the GOOD things we’ve experienced in fostering!
So, the ugly…
Wow… where do I start? Honestly, my mind has no idea of how to even categorize some of the things that we’ve experienced over the last few months. I have written, erased, and then rewritten this post a few times now. So, I apologize if this is just a rambled mess.
That very first night that he walked in our door, we were slapped with the ugly. A paralyzingly shy child, hidden behind a caseworker, that by the end of the time of filling out paperwork had planted himself right under our coffee table with tears in his eyes. His case worker gave him a quick hug and was out the door… at that point, it was one terrified boy in a house with two strangers. We had been around him for nearly an hour by then, and had yet to hear his voice. At all. Seeing the tears in his eyes only made our eyes fill with tears and our throats get a little bit heavy. Sara and I both had that “oh crap” look in our eyes, and Little Bit had that “I want to be anywhere but here” look in his eyes.
So, part of the ugly from our perspective is having a little boy pray for his mommy every night and ask us repeatedly most days why he can’t see her… and we don’t really have an honest response for that. We just hold him and hug him and say how sorry we are… but, what in the heck are you supposed to tell a 5 year old about why he has suddenly been ripped away from everything he once knew and was never really told why? We had always imagined that any child that came into our home would be so glad to be out of the situation they were in, and that they wouldn’t want to go back. This is so untrue. From his perspective, everything was hunky-dory where he was, and the fact that he was just pulled right out of that is beyond his comprehension.
So, he doesn’t call us Mommy and Daddy, because he’s still holding out for the day when he’ll walk right back out that door and into the place he called home. All of this came as quite a surprise to us.
It’s definitely ugly to discover some of the things that he should have never been exposed to. To hear him tell us a story that he doesn’t even think is in the least bit odd, that leaves us with our jaws on the floor. It’s a hard thing to hope that his family really does get their act together and get him back. Deep down you just want him to never be in that place again and for him to just forget he ever knew them. We are constantly having to remind ourselves that we need to be truly hoping that they will turn their life around and that their family will be restored. That should be our goal.
We have also found that it can be kinda messy mixing foster care with your extended family. Of course our hopes are that when a child comes into our house, our family will accept them as one of their own and treat them like they were our child… which our family has done. They love Little Bit so much and he loves them right back. But, the tricky part is that he’s not really their grandchild or nephew. Like I said, at any moment, we could get a phone call and he could be out of here, and we’d most likely never have contact with him again. This is something that we understand… we understood it going into this journey. But, it’s difficult to expect your family to pull a child in, but at the same time keep enough distance to be able to let them go at the drop of a hat. There simply isn’t a smooth way to do that. It’s messy no matter how you play that situation out.
Connection has also been a messy aspect of this journey. We’ve found that we have all connected to him a bit differently, and on varying levels. Sara and I see him in different lights at times and feel different feelings toward him often. Our family and close friends seem to have all connected or not connected to him in different ways. I think that we really expected for a child to come into our home and that we would immediately feel a strong bond with them and never want to see them go. The truth is… it’s complicated. Horribly complicated.
Our feelings are tricky little beasts. We have had to beg God to make our hearts like His toward Little Bit. We’ve realized that we are far from the all-loving and perfect people that we had thought we were in our minds. HA!
But, through this difficult journey of connection, we have had to ask the hard question of whether our feelings have anything to do with the call that God has given us to take in these children. And ultimately, would our feelings have anything to do with whether or not we adopted a child. Well, we’re still on this journey, and still wrestling through this very question, but I have yet to find a string that ties the feelings aspect to the fact that God says to care for the orphan… in real tangible ways. So, whether we feel it or not, some things in life are simply hard. And I’m pretty sure that this could be a clear sign that we’re right where God wants us… where things are rarely easy. Of course, every child deserves to be showered with love by their family… and I would never suggest that you should take in a child and not love them. But, I’m finding that sometimes love looks a little different than we may have thought.
Yeah… it’s kinda ugly… but, it’s also really beautiful at the same time.
My hope is that this honest assessment of where we are will not make you think, “yup, this isn’t for me… I could never do that sort of thing!”… but that you would feel even more drawn to broken situations that are far from the way things are supposed to be.