I remember after having my third child people coming up to me and my "large family" and asking how I did it. They would say, "I can't even handle my two." Then as my family grew I was called The Old Woman in the Shoe by complete strangers. When they found out some were foster or adopted children I suddenly became a "saint".
Recently I've met some other foster/adoptive parents who get unusual comments from friends and strangers, or they get completely ignored (by friends and strangers) as they go through the struggle of raising and caring for these children. There isn't a whole lot of support because I don't think there is clear understanding of who these children are or why we would purposefully choose to jump into these uncertain waters, so I thought I'd explain my reasons.
I have always loved children. I remember being 5 and going to the nursery at church to ask if I could be a helper. I was told I couldn't until I was 16. I was heartbroken. Then, when I was 8, I briefly went to a church at the end of my street that allowed me to help in the nursery. Within a week or two they let me work by myself! (crazy times!) But life circumstances changed and we moved and I was out of the babysitting loop for a few more years.
Once I was old enough I always babysat or helped in the nursery at whichever church we attended. In high school most of my friends ended up living with us at one time or another because of the dysfunction that ruled our small town. With all that experience, and some well placed examples, is it any wonder that I would grow up to care for children...my own and many bonus ones?
But this still doesn't tell the why, it only tells what got me here. The why came with our first foster baby, a 6 day old precious blond hair blue eyed baby girl. She was not some little deformed monster who screamed all the time (which wouldn't have changed my love for her if she was), she was a temporary orphan. She had no one, outside of our home, to care for her, hold her and love her until she could return home or, in her case, into the loving care of relatives. Our second, third and fourth placements have become our sons and have their own stories I will not share now. Number five was born addicted to heroine and spent the first two weeks out of the hospital going through withdrawals. He didn't scream or cry alot, he would just shake or twitch. Number six was on morphine for the first several months of his life because his withdrawals would have been too painful. Little Mr. Seven was only 5 weeks old. I went and picked him up from the Children's Hospital near us. There, in a huge hospital bed, was a tiny little guy wearing a splint because he had two broken femurs and a broken tibia. Number eight was a delight and would start smacking his lips as soon each time he saw his bottle. Number nine just needed a place to "hang" while his mama did some hard work. Number ten had been thrown off a balcony and came to us, 18 months old, with 26 staples in his head after brain surgery. Numbers eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen were only with us for a few days each because family was found quickly. Number fifteen was also on morphine for her first few months and was our last baby in California. We had the blessing of seeing her get adopted by her wonderful aunt and uncle on the very same day we adopted two of our boys. Number sixteen was 18 months when he came and very detached. It took three months to get him to smile. Number seventeen stayed only two nights, Eighteen stayed three months and Nineteen stayed a year. A brother and sister came as Twenty and Twenty-one and oh what an adventure that was! Busy Mr. Twenty-three took our family on quite a roller coaster ride with developmental delays and huge family issues. Twenty-four was so tiny until we plumped him up. Twenty-five and twenty six may become permanent members our family. Twenty-seven and twenty-eight were twins, one who had had a heart attack at 5 months old, and number thirty is just a sweet little pink rosebud my 8 year old has decided to call Rose or Princess Celeste...though neither are her name :)
That is why I do what I do. I live for the first smile, laugh, developmental or emotional hurdle reached. Each of these children has been an orphan whether for hours, days, months or permanently. And because they have been in our home, each of those children is prayed for for the rest of their lives. All but number seventeen made it to church to hear about Jesus with their precious little ears and to, hopefully, make an impact on someone in the church or the community who will have a little place in their hearts for these little ones who are so close to the heart of Christ.
I do not think everyone should do foster care or adopt children, but everyone is charged to care for the widows and orphans. You may fulfill that charge by praying for them, babysitting for a foster or adoptive family, listening with compassion to the trials many of us face by bringing injured (emotionally, physically, mentally or physiologically) children into our home. The call is not only to those who take these children physically into their homes, it it for all of us. Let us all be willing to answer that call, for, as God's children, we also have been adopted and made sons and daughters of the King of Kings. :)
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD…
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD…