Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Her Own Words: A Foster Mama Shares Why Excuses Don't Matter

I told you this fall about my brother Tim and his wife Meg beginning their journey to foster care. Days after they received their license, a baby was placed in their home. In his short few months, he already had a story of tremendous hurts in his life.

It's been amazing to watch my little brother parent. Tim and Meg are quite a team when it comes to parenting. But they not only have the typical up during the night, diaper changing, feeding and rocking stuff of parenting. They also have the court hearings, legal paperwork, and lots of the unknown stuff of foster care to deal with. And they have embraced all of it.  

We all have. This new little member to our family came just days before Christmas. Nonny knit a new stocking for the fireplace and extra gifts were placed under the tree. Family pictures had a new face. He'll always be a part of our family, even if he was only with us for a short time.

Tim and Meg are questioned often about their thoughts on all of the unknowns they're dealing with. And their answer has always been that he's worth it. They've decided to love wholeheartedly; without knowing how long he'll be in our family pictures, without knowing how to fill our all of the medical forms when they go to the pediatrician, and without knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Because in his short life, although he has tremendous hurts, he also has a story of tremendous redemption,  love, and healing.

So when people ask Tim and Meg about foster care, and eventually offer up why it's not for them, this is what Meg has to say...

Tim and I have heard a million excuses of why people don't do foster care when they find out about our situation. Don't get us wrong, we also went through those same excuses when we started our journey. But one fact always seemed to trump all of our excuses--the kids are worth it.

1. If they were taken away from me, it would hurt me too much. 
This is a valid point. However, if you are truly called into foster care, it isn't about you and your feelings. It's about these children who have been through hell and need a refuge. It's about being a safe place. It's about showing children love; real unconditional love. Every minute you spend with them will make a huge difference not only in their life right now, but in their life as an adult.

2. I couldn't handle visitations or interacting with the birth parent(s).  
Again, Tim and I thought the same thing at first but God has humbled us. You realize that {most} all parents, no matter what mistakes they have made, love their children. I always think about if my life would have been slightly different, I wouldn't be that far from most of them. What if I grew up in foster care? What if all I did was witness abuse of my older siblings as a child? What if I was abused? Most of the time, the things that cause children to be in foster care is a cycle in the family. It's a learned behavior and we are blessed that we never had to be exposed to. By no means am I giving excuses for their actions, but to demonize the entire person is wrong.

3. There are so many risks and unknowns.  
This is completely true. The child will come to you and all you will know is their age, gender, name, and a vague reason of why they were removed from the home. That's it. To be honest, this was all we knew for about the first month. It's okay, though; we survived. We focused on simply caring for our little guy. That's what we got into this for anyway, right? To take care of children who needed a nurturing home. The information comes in time, but it's been two months now and there are still a lot of unknowns. For example, we don't know how long he will be in our care. But we do know that God is in control and that's our anchor. God knows the little guy's future and that has to be enough for us. You would drive yourself crazy otherwise!

I'm begging you. If you feel called to be a foster parent, do it. Take action. There are so many children who need you. As a matter of fact, we were only licensed for 10 days before we were placed. The need is so great and these children are so worth your time.

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