Three and a half years ago, my husband and I stood at the beginning of a great adventure that we didn't plan or expect. We knew only one thing...that God had called us to be foster parents.
In August of 2010 we got our license in the mail on a Tuesday. My husband was on a work trip in Philadelphia and on Wednesday, the very next morning after getting licensed, we got a call:
"Hello. Can you take a 3 1/2 year old boy placement? Oh, and by-the-way
he will be separated from his brother if you don't take them both."
Of course we took them both!
One of my sons and I have been talking lately about the first time we met. He remembers that my van was blue and that my hands were cold and that he was very scared. Well, I was terrified too. He and I, we don't like change very much, and our lives were about to be turned upside down.
Twenty months later, three beautiful brown-eyed children officially joined our three blue-eyed children and we became a family of eight.
Adoption has taught me so many lessons, but I am going to share three, one for each of my three adopted children.
1- The first lesson is this: Stay in the Moment!
I know I have today. Instead of worring about the future and the what-ifs; or the past and the way I blew it. I need to stay here in this moment and make this moment count.
As a foster parent you aren't promised tomorrow. You never know how long "this" is what your family is going to look like. Loving a child unreservedly as you own, while knowing that at anytime they could be reconciled with their birth family is like wearing your heart outside your body. The only way to look forward is to not think about the end, but about today! The moment that I do have, this could be the last chance I get to change this life. I had better use it to God's Glory.
As we moved into adoptive parents, it has been just as important for me to stay in the moment. Parenting is hard. I can worry about so much: did I discipline right; make the right decision about this or that; how can I be everything they need when they need so much? The solution...staying in the moment, trusting that at this time, God will make-up for all I'm not, as a parent with all that He is. Doing the best I can right here, right now.
2- Lesson two is this: Adoption is bigger than one child. (or in our case three)
Foster care and adoption is the intersction of countless other lives: birth mothers and fathers, caseworkers, counselors, doctors, teachers, grandparents, siblings and attorneys all combine to form one big network of lives forever impacting each other.
When we started foster care, my biggest hesitation about becoming a foster parent was "the system". The system became the same network of people I came to depend on. I came to realize that "those people", they love my kids. Caring for kids, their birth families, and their foster families - that's not just a job for them. They are wearing their hearts on the outside of their bodies too.
As we transitioned into an adoptive family, I realized that I was asking everyone around me to adopt my kids too. My parents would get more grandchildren. My sister would get new nephews and a neice, my friends had to want to invite over six kids now. We became a lot to handle.
New relationships and rules had to be established with my children's birth famly. We are blessed to have settled into such a good place. We not only gained three kids, but a set of grandparents, a pair of great-grandparents, and a couple of awesome aunts, uncles, and cousins.
My kids have a wide circle of people caring for them and loving them. Adoption is bigger than just the children that you adopt.
3- My third lesson is this - I'm not really as selfless as I need to be.
I was married, I had kids, I thought I had this selfless thing down. Nope! I was wrong. God showed me that I was holding really tightly to my things. I liked my clean house. I liked having all the laundry done.
Adding three children to my family changed me. I am not the same women who kept her white living room clean by just not allowing anyone to go in it. I have learned to peel open my grip on stuff. I can focus on others. Now my living room has faded to a creamish-brown and I've decided to call it Shabby Chic.
My home isn't as clean as it once was and lots of times the laundry sits in piles, but I'm happier. I'm learning that being a parent is a selfless act and being a the parent of a foster or adoptive child even more so. But I'm a slow learner and occasionally I still find myself on time-out.
Three and a half years ago my adventure started. Adoption wasn't the plan we had or the end we saw, but it is where we are. And it is right where we are supposed to be. I am glad that as my journey continues, I will continue it not alone, but with my family.
An unknown author says this about the journey:
I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me some high and noble task.
Give me a little hand to hold in mine.
Give me a little child to point the way over the sweet, sweet path that leads to You.
Give me a little voice to teach to pray.
Give me two shining eyes Thy face to see.
The only crown I ask to wear is this...That I may teach a little child.
I do not ask that I may stand among the wise, the worthy or the great;
I only ask that softly, hand-in-hand a child and I may enter at the gate.