The phone call changed everything.
We have a toddler who needs a foster home. Are you willing to take her?
We had not even received our physical foster license yet. We had just completed and adoption class. We knew the call could come any time, but all of the preparation in the world could not prepare us for what we were feeling that moment.
Yes, of course we are willing to take her, this is what we had prepared for. As soon as I got off the phone I wondered what I had done. We were about to be invaded and outnumbered.
The next day we watched the car pull into our driveway and there was such a sense of excitement and fear. Were we doing the right thing? Would she like us? Would we like her? How is this going to effect our kids? What are we going to do next?
We have been praying for a foster child and that the Lord would orchestrate the circumstances to allow us to foster and possibly adopt. We have prayed for a seamless transition and a child who would fit in with our family. We prayed for their health and their future.
As we started to internalize the situation and the whole process we began to pray differently. We began to pray that we would be a family to her, not just that she would be part of our family. We began to pray that we would be the hands of Christ to a child who may have never heard of Him, even if she is only with us for a short time. We began to pray for her biological family, of whom we knew very little, but we knew enough that they needed prayer too. No child ends up in foster care without significant trauma of one form or another and no parent whose children have been taken is not in need of prayer and hope.
We began to hear questions in our heads that we were not prepared for. What if she and our biological children do not get along? Like ever. Will we still love her? Can we meet her needs? What if it becomes too much?
We take for granted that we know our biological children and have followed them develop so we can instinctively tell what they are going to do next.
What a privilege it must be to have this information. To have baby photos and videos and cute mementos. Halfpint came with a trash bag of clothes, a couple of dolls, and no instructions. It has been an adventure to see what she likes. She went straight for the Brussel sprouts instead of turkey at Thanksgiving. Surprise. She is sweet and spunky and friendly and responsible. She is part of our family now, for however long she stays.
How amazing is it that the Lord knows all of this about us and more. How crazy to think that He has known for eternity who we are. Not just our circumstances. Who we actually are and who we were made to be. Halfpint is not just a foster child, she is beautiful creation made in the image of God. She is His daughter. He is heartbroken over the hurt that she has undoubtedly gone through. He is sorrowing over the sin in this world that causes orphans and broken families and pain and poverty. He is wanting the church to respond to the lost and vulnerable. We wonder why does He allow these things to happen? Why does He not act?
And then it becomes real. He did.
Jesus came. He came to right the wrongs. To fix the problems. To mend the hurting and save the lost and bring hope to the hopeless. He came to adopt us. It is a beautiful image, but it is an ugly process. Adoption is born of pain and anger and suffering. Christ came to bring us all, the ugly, the angry, the hurt, the wronged and to wipe it away and give us a new heart. We may give this child a home, temporary or forever, but Christ has given us so much more. Christ works in our hearts changing them from cold and selfish to torn and aching and in that process He heals with his grace and He offers us life.
She has had a runny nose for a few days and she will not let me wipe it, not because it is uncomfortable, but because she wants to do it on her own. I want to fix my heart on my own because I know how to take care of myself, but God is asking me to stop and to allow Him to wipe my nose. And heal my hurts. And take care of the things that are beyond my control. And to bring peace when there is chaos and joy when there is anger and exhaustion. And to convict me of the sin in my life that prevents me from teaching them about Christ.
We want to extend the good news of the gospel to our children and we want them to see Jesus, but there are many days that it is through them that the gospel becomes real in my life. They are the Lord’s little imperfect instruments to teach me what it means to love and show grace and forgive and heal and pray and repent.
Were we prepared for this? No, we were not. The papers were in order. We had prayed and done everything necessary, but we were not prepared for this. I am thankful for that because we now have the opportunity to learn and grow in the grace of the Lord. He has given us the tools necessary to navigate the days ahead and He gives us the strength on the many days when we are weak. He lifts us up when we fail, again, and again. He stands in the gap when we just do not know how to pray or what to do and all we want to do is retreat.
We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future and in Him we will learn to rest. He has invaded our family with a little girl and with His love and that is what happens when the gospel becomes reality.