The Archibald Project Guest Post - "Old Enough"
Foster care has revealed a truth to me that's always been true, but I've never seriously contemplated. Having children is always a risk. My bio children, my foster children...I'm really not in control of any of their fates. In a very real sense, all of the children in my home are "mine." In another - maybe even more real - sense, none of the children in my home are mine. They were created by God, they were given to me by God, they belong to God. Their lives are safer in His hands than they could ever be in mine, and I willingly relinquish them all to Him.
My husband and I became foster parents two years ago. Our very first placement was an 11 month old girl who was removed from her home because of neglect. The quick story from the social worker engrained a permanent picture in my head: She sits in a play pen because the rest of the house is covered in hundreds of soiled diapers, maggots, third-world type filth. Old enough to walk, but she can barely crawl. Old enough to talk, but she cries without a sound. Old enough to eat and feed herself, but she chokes on anything but the bottle of milk stuck in her mouth to stifle her whining. Old enough to understand, but she is ignored by her mom, taken by a stranger, and brought to live with me.
Since bringing her into our home two years ago, we've begun the process of adopting this now-healthy-and-happy little girl, as well as another little gift, and have had ten other children in and out of our home. Now I know the beauty and benefit of foster care, but it began almost three years ago with me just being compelled to do something. I was compelled by the stories of children, just like mine, living right across town from me who were hurt, starved, raped, ignored. I was compelled by the statistics that predict these kids’ futures: jail, pregnancy, homelessness, further abuse. I was compelled by admitting what is true: God created them, loves them, values them, and died for them, just like He did for me and my own children. Ultimately, I was compelled by the most compelling thing: the fact that I, too, was rescued. These kids were just I was: helpless, hopeless, fatherless.
Being a foster parent is worth the risk. The only person who chooses pain is someone who's weighed the other options and decided the benefits eclipse the pain. My pain, my loss dissolve before the pain and loss of these children. My pain, my loss dissolve in light of the good my loss will yield. If I'm afraid, so a child feels safe; if I cry, so a child learns to smile; if I give of myself, so a child learns to receive; if I die a little inside, so a child comes to know The One who died, then it is all worth it. Foster care is hard, but foster care is worth it.