Friday, May 25, 2012

National Foster Care Month: The Beauty of Letting Go (Guest Post)

{It's National Foster Care Month, so I will be sharing a series of posts during May with the hope of bringing these beautiful children to the attention of the Church, to join in the national foster care conversation as well as suggesting ways to get involved, stories that inspire, God's provision for foster families, and challenges to get involved.
Would you STAND UP with us to make a difference?}

It is my honor to once again share the blog with a precious foster family. We got connected through some mutual friends.  Jennifer followed up with a sweet email telling her and her husband Joe's journey into foster care.  Since then, I have enjoyed reading her blog and I see Christ in her words.  We have a double date planned in the near future and I'm honored to give her a new space in which to write so eloquently about why most people stay away from foster care.  Thank you Jenni --- you are beautiful!!

Hi There!  I'm Jenni of, fellow blogger and foster parent.  I don't really know Lauren except people kept asking me if I did know her - we are both foster parents, both live in southern Indiana and both love Jesus.  While we still haven't met officially  (let's change that soon please Lauren!), Lauren asked me to share my experience of having to send my foster kids home for good.  Here it is.....

One month ago, I stood and watched as everyone we love started to say goodbye to what had become my world.

One month ago, we sent our foster kids home to their mother.  For good.  They were 3, 2, and nearly 1 and had been with me for the last year and a half.  I had been their mother for most of their lifespan.

Each time they said goodbye to someone else - friends, siblings, parents, I cried.  I would shed small tears, and remember that I was not alone in the pain I was feeling.

I went to bed crying.  I woke up crying.  For days.

Then the big day arrived.  I woke crying.  We did our regular day routine.  I left for work and cried.  I sat at my desk and cried.  I wondered if I would ever run out of tears.

We ate lunch and everything tasted like sawdust.

I headed home after lunch to pick up my husband Joe and head to court where we would listen as the judge passed down the ruling, sending them home.  I stood in the babies room, clutching the blanket he had used the night before, crying.

We got in our van - which we had to upgrade to when the baby came to live with us.  3 car seats don't fit very well in a G6.  It was packed to the gills with things to be sent home with them that day.

All the way to the courthouse I prayed that God would stop my tears.  I didn't want to sit in the courtroom and cry.  I didn't want their mother to see how upset I was.

When we arrived, we met our DCS caseworker and the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) all going into the courthouse.  It eased my pain a bit.  I felt like I was among friends.  These women had been with me from day one.

We climbed the stairs and there they were.  The people who were going to take the kids home forever.  Mom, grandma, grandpa and an uncle.  And they were joyous.  They were prepared for their life to be put back together and I felt like mine was falling apart.  Seeing them eased my pain.  They were ready.

We all shuffled into the courtroom.  I have no idea what was said, except for the last thing the Judge said.  He thanked Joe and I for our service to this family.  That eased my pain a bit.

It was done.

We headed to daycare to pick the kids up.  When we arrived we found all the ladies there in tears, so we cried with them too.  We loaded up, told the kids where we were going, and they were excited.
We arrived at the drop off point, unloaded the kids, and started swapping all of their stuff.  I told their mom of the dirty outfit from daycare, and where to find the favorite blankets.

I hugged each of the babies and kissed them one last time.

I hugged their mother, and she cried as she thanked me for what I had done for her family.

And then, my pain was gone.

We got back in the empty van, and drove for the state line.  For the last 15 months we haven't been able to just leave the state without notice - to take the kids we needed a court order.  So we just drove into Louisville and had dinner.

I really thought going into that last month and the last days I was about to come unglued.  I thought I was either never going to stop crying or I was going to have to be committed to a hospital.  But I did stop crying, and happy to report I am still home with Joe.

Over the last 30 days people have asked how I did it.  And I can assure you it wasn't me.  It was all God.

God was with  me every step of the way.  And God laid a foundation for peace when I hugged the kids mother the last time.  I was able to walk away knowing that he was not abandoning them and that they were being taken care of.

And God allowed us to have the greatest privilege of our lives by letting us watch as a family was put back together.  That young mother got what she had been asking God for.

People say they couldn't do foster care.  They would never be able to let the kids go.  Well, neither can I.  But God can.  And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  I can do foster care.  I can return children to their parents.  I can work through the failures of the system.  I can serve the Lord by taking care of children who are not mine.

Over the last 30 days,  I have found countless balls, bibs, socks, hair clips, artwork and other reminders of the tiny people who used to reside in my now open bedrooms.  And each time, i think of them, I pray for them (and their mother) and I remember that I am strong through Christ.  And then I pray for the next kids.

Thanks Lauren for letting me hang out on your blog today.  It was my pleasure to tell my bit about foster care.