It is hard to give a complete and accurate picture of Foster Care even after you have done it for over seven years. However, we recently had an experience that does a fairly good job of capturing part of it.
Three weeks ago we received a called for ‘A’. A sweet little baby of 4 weeks. He was positive for exposure to a controlled substance (mom was “using” while pregnant). Since mom was living with dad at the time, he could not go home with either. Consequently, he was placed with us. ‘A’ was a sweet young man and the entire family adored him, but he was also extremely “high maintenance.” The particular drug that mom was using has a history of altering young brains to the point where they are constantly agitated. That was ‘A’ to a T. We all poured our hearts and best efforts into him and he was thriving. Five days after ‘A’ arrived, we attended court. Within minutes we learned that he was being placed with one set of grandparents (the others had two of mom’s other children already). They were thrilled. We were heartbroken. Even so, we understand that our role is to love the children as long as we have them. God only knows how long that will be for any of our children.
Back to ‘A’. One of the things we really like about the system here in NC and one of the primary reasons we decided to help is the concept of Shared Parenting. We love the concept of helping the biological families learn how to care for their children so that they can be reunified. Success rates are low (even in our family, 5 of the 6 children we have fostered were all adoptable because of failed plans).
Because we love the concept of Shared Parenting, we were resigned to the Lord’s will for ‘A’ and started preparing for the transition to fully support the birth family with everything we learned and all that we acquired for little ‘A’. Each family member grieved his loss in their own way. Beautiful struggled to get through the packing of his belongings. I struggled with the notice we would send to our wonderfully supportive church body and family. The children struggled with understanding how this all worked. Bright Eyes asked about him for days after he was gone. She understood he went to grandparents, what she wanted to know is why she didn’t get to go, and when he was coming back. Thunder, the big cuddly bear, no longer had his routine of getting up first to hold him. He has slept in every day since the day he left.
We will likely never know how much the grandparents absorbed in those heady moments in the conference room as they received their new grandson. We do know that several weeks removed from the meeting, they will fully understand how much work he is, regardless if they understand why, or how to really help him. We continue to pray for ‘A’ and there will always be a place in our hearts for him.
It took a little while for life to return to “normal” as we caught up with the little things we neglected with a new little one in the house. We were relieved to sleep again, and we were all able to get some projects accomplished. All of us would have traded our “normal” in a heartbeat if it meant that ‘A’ would return, but that was not to be. A week after normal finally settled in, we received the call for ‘Z’.
The story of ‘Z’ is as similar to ‘A’ as it is different. He too was exposed to controlled substances in utero and was born positive. However, the substance that mom abused does not affect the child in the same way. He will likely be exactly like P.C. when he is older and will have his own set of challenges, but for now, he is as peaceful and content as what you imagine Christ in the manger to be. Once again, we are pouring ourselves into him with everything we have, because it is what our Lord has called us to do.
We have court on Thursday and we may learn that once again, the little bundle of joy was just passing through, but we may also learn that mom has decided to give him up. Either way, our job and our response will be the same. He will be loved and treated like he is part of the family until the day that he leaves (whether that is a few weeks, a few months or when his time has come to enter glory with a head full of gray hair – assuming he has hair then). That is what we are called to do and we love every minute of it. I will take the sleepless nights, the broken hearts and frustrations of working with a system that sometimes cannot bend itself to help the little ones. I will take all of it and rejoice because I know that if we can show Christ’s love to one little one, or one parent, even in the tiniest little glimmer, then we have accomplished something eternal.
That is Foster Care A to Z. There is nothing like it.