THE RELUCTANT FOSTER PARENT – A (FOSTER) FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTE TO MY HUSBAND
As a foster mom and foster-mom-turned-blogger, I get many uber encouraging, undeserved words thrown at me. They’re all just too embarrassing and untrue to even type, so I’ll spare you (and myself) the horror of it all and share the general idea. Let’s just say, some strangers (and only strangers) erroneously think I’m some sort of hero.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me introduce you to my husband. His name is Alan, he’s 35 ½ years old, he works at Liberty Mutual, and he is a hero. Take any embarrassing, untrue words you may have stowed away for me and direct them squarely at him. He deserves them all.
My husband and I, we’re in this foster parenting thing together. But me? I’m just following my burden, doing something I’m passionate about. There’s nothing heroic about that. Him? He never wanted to be a foster parent, he never even wanted more than two children. For him, foster care isn’t about burden or desire. For him, foster care is about jumping out in faith, dying to self, diving out of his comfort zone. I told you. HERO.
I love to talk about foster care, but I always love for people to hear from my husband even more than me. Yeah, maybe there’s something compelling about someone who’s hyped up and passionate about something like foster care, but there’s something much more compelling about someone who isn’t but chooses to do it anyway. I’ve written a lot on mythoughts about foster care, but I figured it’s about time you heard from this heroic husband of mine.
Last night I sat with him to talk about his perspective. Besides eliminating the giggling, the “I can’t write that!!”, the “wait, what was the question again?” and the like, I want you to hear directly from him. I recorded our conversation and even had him type up some of his thoughts (which ended up being very necessary, since 8:03 into the recording I said: “Ok, so far I don’t have one thing that I can actually use.”).
Can you tell my readers what you’re doing right now?
I’m sitting on the couch, doing an interview with you.
No I mean, can you tell my readers what you’re holding?
………Is that what that’s called?? (If I had to guess, I would measure this “snack” of his as a five gallon barrel of ice cream accompanied by a spoon that he was just digging right into his lapful of frozen sugar. Before you get the wrong idea about my husband’s girth, you should know he weighs about 125 lbs. soaking wet. He just loves his ice cream.)
Ok, so, what did you think when I started bringing up foster care?
I thought, ‘I hope this goes away because I don’t want to do this.’ (giggles, but he was dead serious)
When did you realize it wasn’t going away?
When you brought it up over and over and over and over. (giggles, but again very serious)
So, what did you do when you realized it wasn’t going away?
I started to pray and seek counsel from others. I asked [our pastor], and he said that if this was something that you felt burdened for, then I should take that really seriously. I felt compelled to at least start exploring the process because you had such a strong burden for it. I still kind of hoped it would go away……….like most things do…you get obsessed and then bored and then move on. (touche)
What made you eventually say yes?
Besides wanting to pursue your burden and knowing that it’s very clear in Scripture that we should care for the orphan, I think it was just the Holy Spirit’s leading, because I really had no desire whatsoever…whatsoever…like at all. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t what I desired…like at all. (ok, point made)
Did you eventually get the desire or was it just stepping out in faith and obedience?
Yeah, definitely just stepping out.
What made you say yes to a second foster child?
The Holy Spirit. (full disclosure: he burst out laughing and said, “I have no earthly idea” and then said the Holy Spirit)
What made you say yes to a third foster child?
The Holy Spirit. (full disclosure: the very same thing happened again)
What do you say every single time I call you about a child?
I feel really uncomfortable about this.
Haha, yup…every time.
I felt very wary of bringing a child into our home. I wondered if we brought a child into our home, if they would turn our lives upside down.
At what point did that wariness dissipate?
I don’t know…I can’t remember…Six months maybe? Two months?
Well, after two weeks of having B you told me, “I could see us adopting her.”
Ok, let’s say two weeks then. Seriously, after a few weeks, she felt like she belonged in our lives and after a few months, I loved her like my daughter. It was the same with M.
Why is foster care “worth it”?
Well, it brought me my two daughters! It’s an opportunity to care for children in need and sacrifice our lives for them. It’s a way to tangibly care for them, rather than just writing a check…to love the orphan in a hands-on way. It’s also an opportunity to teach our kids about sacrifice…about serving others and sharing God’s love with others. Foster care is emotionally tough, hard work, but filled with rewards (both now and eternally) that far outweigh the cost. God loves orphans and calls himself “Father to the fatherless.” Jesus loves children and said “let the little children come to me.” We should share that heart, and foster care is an opportunity to live out God’s heart for orphans and Jesus’ passion for loving children.
What would you say to a husband…or a wife, I guess (I’m an equal opportunity blogger here), who is reluctant to get involved in foster care?
I understand where you’re coming from. I was very reluctant and had no desire to upset my “perfect” life. I enjoyed the simplicity of life and loved having the ability to easily focus my attention on my two kids. But foster parents are needed. There are way too many kids in foster care that aren’t receiving love and attention. These kids need love, care, protection, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can give them all those things. If you’re reluctant to get involved, study scripture and ask God to give you His heart for orphans. Ask God to compel you through His Word of the need to be involved somehow in caring for orphans. Finally, take a chance. Explore foster care by attending an interest meeting and going through the process of getting licensed. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and see where He brings you.
I’m grateful for this husband of mine for so many reasons. I’m grateful he heard my heart, took my burden so seriously, and didn’t sweep away my desire with the easy “no” he was feeling. I’m grateful he chose to step out and do what he believed was right, even when he didn’t want to do it. I’m grateful he keeps saying yes to something that makes him uncomfortable, because He loves God and others more than he loves his own comfort. I’m grateful he’s opened his heart and home to all of the children who’ve come in and out. I’m grateful that he’s followed The Father’s example and become a father to the fatherless.
Happy (Foster) Father’s Day to my children’s (formerly reluctant) hero of a dad.