A dream restored
In 2005, my husband and I saw a presentation about orphans in Cambodia. We knew a family who had adopted from Cambodia and we realized that we had everything necessary and desirable to adopt. Our children were then eight, ten, eleven and thirteen. We had a stable, fun, healthy, loving home undergirded by a strong and happy marriage. I began praying for God to give us a child to adopt.
We thought we might get a child from Cambodia, but the country was closed. So we explored other options through Social Services. It became apparent that adopting this way was prohibitively expensive. My husband, ever the voice of reason, gently commented that we could not remortgage our house to pay for an adoption. It seemed that was not the way to go, and so with a sad heart, I shelved my dream.
But after attending a ladies’ retreat seven years ago, I felt that God would have us foster. The need in our city is great, and it is a wonderful way to give a home, support broken parents and families, and love vulnerable children, all with approval, training and assistance from the government. We called the Ministry of Social Services and asked for someone to come to our home and explain the process. It didn't take long for us to become a registered foster home. With the assistance of our resource worker from the ministry, we launched into caring for newborns.
We did not foster with the intent to adopt. We knew other foster families who had been able to adopt, but we were not expecting to do it ourselves. It is never required. However, that is exactly what happened.
God honoured my prayer for a child to adopt, and our little boy, despite several departures that looked permanent, legally became our son this past May. His birth father requested that we adopt him, and we have an open adoption agreement with the father, which means he sees the little boy about twice a year for a visit. They go out to eat, or to a movie, or just hang out. Our son is now five. Our birth children are now 24, 22, 21 and 19. They are the best staff! Babysitters, companions, role models, friends. Looking back, I can see how God closed doors to this son leaving us over and over again. He was ordained to stay!
Fostering carries many challenges. We are currently caring for brothers who are one and two years old. It's constant activity. Parents don't show up for visits. Parents resent that someone else has their kids. The kids are busy and tire a person out. Our social life is restricted. Parents are hurt when their children call you Mom and Dad. No one can ever predict how long a child will be with you. It can be days, months, years – and then they move. Or become permanent wards of the ministry and stay forever. The not knowing is the hardest. It doesn't take long to become very attached to children in our care, and as time goes on, the wondering if they will be staying is hard to avoid. It is emotionally difficult, not knowing when you will be saying goodbye to a little person who has lived with you since they were born. You feel like no one can mother that baby like you did.
By far the greatest reward is seeing a family do well, and knowing that by having that child in our home, their lives have been made better. All of our children have gone to good situations. One family in particular has made a special effort to keep in touch. We had their grandson from birth to fourteen months and it was a particularly painful goodbye for me as a mom. But they faithfully call and send photos and plan visits for us to see what a wonderful boy this baby has become. Recently we were included in a significant family event, and that was such an honour for us.
We pray for all the kids who come to us, that they will hear about the love of Jesus and come to know Him. One little girl we had ended up on a northern reserve. Someone we know did some work with Child Evangelism Fellowship up there, and commented that our little girl had been there and had heard. I was so excited! Even when the kids leave, we can continue to care for them.
Fostering is 24/7. Adoption is forever. I believe both are a calling from God, and when called, parents are given the grace required. People say they could never let a child go and so they could never foster. God gives grace to endure partings. If we didn't love, it wouldn't hurt, and what we do would be of no value. But the Lord sees fit to include us in His plan for little lives, and for families. It is our privilege to be part of those plans, either as a forever family, or a temporal one. We have the opportunity to participate in the gritty, everyday caring, much like Jesus. Is there a more challenging, satisfying experience?
Lynne and her family live in Saskatchewan.
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