Fostering, like parenting, is hard.
We have been enjoying Halfpint, and she is sweet, but she is also starting to show some serious stubbornness. It has not been easy, but it has actually been an easier transition than we anticipated. We braced ourselves for the worst, knowing that it really could be the worst because we have heard all of the stories. She came home and the transition was relatively smooth. As with any growing family there were bound to be fights and jealousy and anger, but those have calmed down. We still have things we are working on with her, and will continue to work on for a while, but for the most part things feel like they are back to normal.
Halfpint has a slightly older brother. They had not seen each other for a while and the plan has always been to find a home where they could be together, but due to some circumstances that couldn’t happen until now. We have always known about him and we decided we would be willing to take him as well if the situation moved in that direction. We met with his therapist, case worker, and play therapist and they all told us how sweet he was. And how active. When he came for some visits at our home we couldn’t believe how much energy he had. And how much maintenance he would require.
He visited several times and we had the opportunity to get to know him better and to see his personality. He is very active and he is very independent. He also has some struggles. Bill and I spent a few hours discussing our thoughts about him and the situation that we were facing and we came to the same conclusion.
Honestly, it is just inconvenient.
His behavior was going to be inconvenient. Having a fourth child which will require us to drive two vehicles will be inconvenient. Messes will be inconvenient. IEP’s, doctors visits, court appointments, therapists, evaluations, and required visits with other siblings will all be inconvenient. The paper work itself will be inconvenient. The stress and the headaches and everything else that goes with parenting will be inconvenient.
He is a child and children are inconvenient. They cramp our schedules, wear us down, make us lose sleep, and bring us to the point of exhaustion. They disobey, make loud noises, ask a million questions a day, and break everything. They either refuse to eat or eat all of the time, take FOREVER to get out the door, and embarrass us in public.
They just do what kids do.
That night we had to decide a very important question.
Was he worth it?
I mean, yes, theologically God loves children and wants us to help the vulnerable. We should love children and want to care for them because it is something on God’s own heart (and we really should do this). He is worth it to God, of course. Is he worth it to us? We knew that this was not permanently binding for us. We knew that if things got really bad, we could send him back. We knew that we did not even have to accept him to begin with.
We looked at each other that night and we knew that, despite being inconvenient, he is worth it. He is worth the fights and the stress and the hurt. He is worth the disappointments, late nights, and mess. He is worth it because he is made in the image of God. He did not deserve for his life to go the way it did. He did not ask for the trauma, disappointments, and failures of adults who he depended on. He deserves to be in a family and to be loved because he is a child and because that is what every child deserves. In God’s infinite wisdom he established families and placed children in families. We know that we cannot leave him where he is. We look into his eyes and we see the history that is written in his case file. We see the longing for family and love and permanency. We see the excitement of seeing his sister and meeting William and Eden. We see the desire to do good, but the struggle to make those choices. We also see the terror of being in yet another place with people he barely knows for reasons he doesn’t understand.
How can we justify wanting to keep his sister, but struggle to want him? How can we say our lives would be easier without him? What makes one child “worth it” and another not? Is it not the battles they are fighting? We want the perfect, compliant, easy going, fun child who obeys without question and who doesn’t cramp our style. We do not want to deal with anger. Or destructive behavior. Or manipulation. We do not want to be inconvenienced. Have we not seen this behavior with our biological children? Aren’t there days when we have wanted to give up? Have we not seen the Lord work in their lives and can He not work in the lives of these children as well?
There is nothing convenient about a child in foster care. There is nothing convenient about orphans and broken families. There is nothing convenient about Christ choosing to love us and dying on the cross for us. For our brokenness and our messed up relationships and families and communities and lives.
When we look at our new son, whether it be temporary or permanently, we want to teach him that he is not inconvenient. That he matters. We want him to know that we are going to fight for him because we have Someone fighting for us. That we are going to take up his case. That we are going to defend him and love him. That we will get frustrated and angry and we will make mistakes. We want him to know that we will apologize and seek to honor God. We want him to know that we will not give up the fight. We will have to fight to love him. We will have to fight to want him, I mean, to really want to want him. I do not say this to be disrespectful to him or his situation, it is just the reality of how we are processing our feelings now. He is a good boy and has some awesome qualities, but the reality is that he also has some challenges.
He is not a charity case or a ministry project, and we certainly are not heroes. Let us face it, not much in the Christian walk is convenient and the only Hero is Christ. There is the daily choosing to lay ourselves down. There is the constant tugging of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to fill us with His presence. There is the commands to love others and forgive when we don’t want to and apologize when we are at fault and at times when we do not think we did anything wrong. There is the ongoing battle with sin. We are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. We are asked to lay down our lives, physically if necessary. It is a hard and painful process, not unlike raising a child.
We want to throw in the towel because we anticipate the challenges that we are going to be facing. We do not want the interruptions and the constant chaos. We want to be comfortable. As we walk down this journey, we realize it is less about us, and more about Christ. It is less about our children and their behavior and more about the state of our hearts. All of our children need healing of some forms or another and they need grace and love. We are in a spiritual battle more than anything else and our hearts are in just as much need of refinement as theirs are of healing.
We are preparing ourselves for a battle. A battle for his heart and for ours. We are preparing ourselves for the Lord to manifest Himself in ways we have not yet seen. We are excited and terrified at the same time. We believe that the Lord will heal, that He has already healed, and that he will walk us through what ever comes next. We believe that the Lord knows all of this, has seen it from the beginning of eternity, and has chosen us for some reason for this moment in time. He often uses inconveniences and difficulties in our own lives to show us His glory. We believe that He is faithful and that His mercies are new every morning.
Spider-man came home yesterday morning and we had a wonderful day. We were thrilled and thankful that the Lord gave us this beautiful start. We unpacked his clothes and toys from his previous home. We watched a movie as a family and we prayed over him as he cried when he went to bed. This morning I thought I would have to take him to the emergency room for an injury because he is almost always moving at a very fast pace. Yes, this will be a difficult journey. It will be worth it though, because he is worth it. He is worth it, because Christ is worth it.