My Foster Child’s Family Is My Enemy
You are brave. You are strong. You’ve got this. I’m proud of you. I’m here for you. I’m praying for you. I text these words, and I receive similar ones back. Can you talk? I need some help. I appreciate all you’re doing for me and my child. I’m grateful for you. Thank you.
Sometimes loving my foster child’s family is easy. Like the first-time, young mom who made a bad choice and just needs support and a second chance. Like the dad who cries every time he sees his baby, who has a steady job and a place to live, and is stepping up for his child. Sometimes it’s easy.
And sometimes it’s hard. Like the family who slanders me on social media, who calls in an investigation on me, who continually puts the child at risk, who acts like court is a game to be won. Sometimes it’s very, very hard.
So how do I handle the times when it’s hard?
I can give in to the emotions that flood my heart: Resentment, anger, bitterness, hatred. Short term, this feels good. Long term, it weighs down my soul, dulls my love for others, grieves my God.
I can put on emotional bandaids: Respect the biological relationship. Try to put myself in their shoes. Let it go. This works in the short term. The very short term. Like the two minutes that I’m focusing all of my attention on it kind of short term.
Or I can call it like it is: You are my enemy.
Because while I don’t always know how to handle the complicated relationships I share with my children’s families, I know how to deal with my enemies.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil...On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’” (Romans 12:17,20)
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
And when I’m weary and weak and unwilling, I remember that “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). And I find the strength to do all things--even love my foster child’s family--through this One who died for me. (Philippians 4:13, paraphrased)