Thursday, July 26, 2012

Licensed and Ready

So, I have some news...we were officially licensed on July 24th for foster care! This means that any day now we could get the call and have children placed in our home!

We are so relieved that the licensing (hoop-jumping) process is over, and super excited about what's ahead. And then there are all kinds of thoughts and emotions about what it will actually be like. Who will our first kids be? How old? Boys or girls? What will they have been through? Will they be more sad, or more angry? Will they like our dogs? Will they like us? Will we be able to help them?

And then there's that looming question...Will they try to burn our house down? 

We’ll hope for the best and pray for divine intervention for the worst!

John likes to say he wants us to get the “really messed up” kids. This, I believe, is a reflection of his hopeful perspective on humanity and genuine care for others, which often turns the “bad kids” at his high school into his best and favorite students. It also may have something to do with remembering himself as a kid and knowing what it’s like to go through tough family situations. I’m so glad he’s my partner in all of this. He is truly amazing, and he’s going to be an awesome dad.

I try to think about our kids and where they are right now, what they’re going through. But it’s hard because there are so many possibilities. We could get kids who transfer out of another foster home, or a shelter or group home, or we could get kids who just got removed from their own home, possibly while mom or dad was getting handcuffed and put into a police car. We could get kids who have been abused, or abandoned, but still feel really sad and angry when they get removed from their homes. We could get kids whose parents or caretakers have recently died and there was no one else to take them in. The possibilities are endless.

And then I get to thinking about whether or not our first kids will be the kids we’ll end up adopting someday. Will we have them for a month? a year? forever?

While these questions are tough to wrestle with, they aren’t nearly as scary as they seemed about a year ago when I first realized what we would be signing up for if we did foster-to-adopt.

After the “trying,” and the messed up pregnancies, and the hospital visits and hopelessness and all of that, John and I began to talk about the possibility of shifting gears and looking into foster care and/or adoption again. It seemed that foster-to-adopt was the way we were compelled to go, but we needed to learn more.

We went to an informational meeting and it was there that they explained how foster-to-adopt works. You’re a regular foster parent first and foremost, but they will try to give you kids who are likely to become available for adoption in the future, and you’ll also be considered as a possible parent for other kids who come up for adoption who aren’t in your home. Chances are you’ll have a good handful of kids go in and out of your home before you get the kids you’ll eventually adopt.

But here was the kicker, that night I learned (or finally grasped) that the intention and goal of the foster care system is “to return each child to his or her family of origin.”

Now, this may make perfect sense to you (because it does make perfect sense), but in the emotional state I was in, longing so desperately to be a mother and still deeply feeling the pain of our losses, the idea of taking a child into our home, and then giving them back, sounded like self-torture!

The ride home from that meeting was not a great one. John was so excited and ready to get started. I was heartbroken and distraught. There were frustrated words and tears and silence.

That night I laid awake in bed, my mind spinning. I had to make a decision. Was I going to agree to pursue this or not? Tears flowed down my face as all the emotion of the past year washed over me. I was overwhelmed with sadness. Was this it for me? The only way I could be a mother? Really, God? Take children who have come from terrible situations into my home and my heart, mother them for a little while, and then give them back to their actual parents. That’s my only option?

Of course, there were other options. I could try to convince John to let me “try” again, despite the hospital debt and the still looming health concerns. I could see if he would be willing to simply pursue adoption without fostering. I could do nothing for the time being and just wait. But somewhere deep inside I was being drawn, clearly and strongly, toward foster-to-adopt. It wasn’t that it was my only option, it was the conviction that this was what God was calling me to do.

And I was mad about it.

So God got to hear all about how unfair it was, and what I wanted, and how none of this made sense. He listened to my fears and my frustrations and my guilt for not just wanting to love and care for these kids in need, despite what I was giving up.

And that was it, what was making me so emotional over this decision. It meant that, at least for the next couple of years (and possibly forever), I was giving up the dream of getting pregnant and having a baby. This thing that I had wanted to do so desperately, that I had put so much into pursuing over the last two years, that I had hoped and waited for all my life…I was giving it up.

I was the girl who couldn’t wait until it was my turn to make the big announcement to family members and friends, to do the big reveal of if it was a boy or a girl, to listen to a heartbeat inside my swollen belly.

I got excited about new clothes that would likely pass for early maternity later. I looked in the mirror and pictured myself with a growing tummy, looking forward to charting the growth with those side-shot pregnant-belly pictures.

I imagined what our baby would look like, and grow up to be like, what kind of awesome combination of John and my genes God would weave together. I dreamed of holding that baby in my arms, rocking it to sleep in the quiet hours of the night, loving him or her with my whole heart. We would share all of the special moments of life together, from all their firsts, to their school days, to the “I do’s” and the grand kids.

All of that I was giving up. I was letting it go, slowly and painfully releasing my tight grip, finger by finger.

By the morning, it was finished. I had cried and kicked and screamed, and wrestled with God, and finally let go. I was ready for something new, for whatever God had in store for us. And that is when my joy began to return.

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” – Psalm 30:5

I’m not saying I never felt sad again, or questioned God again, because I certainly have. And I’m also not quite ready to give up the possibility of ever trying to get pregnant again. But I can say with full confidence that I am ready for this adventure of fostering-to-adopt! I am willing to table all the rest and move forward with this now.

I’m even excited about walking with a child through the experience of foster care and being reunited with his or her family, extending grace and love to parents who lost their way for a little while, hoping and praying with the children that their parents will be redeemed and their families will be restored. And when I think of the children who we’ll go on this journey with and eventually will adopt, becoming their forever family…well, that excites me just as much as the thought of getting pregnant ever has.

1 comment:

  1. you are an inspiration, Jen! thank you for your honesty, your faith, and your journey!