Coping, Part 1: When Contemplating the Abstract

Originally written August 26, 2009 as “The Prospect of Giving Them Back…”

Let’s be honest, that is the question everyone wants to know, but few were brave enough to ask (when we undertook this fostering thing).  Except my walking buddy.  We had an interesting conversation about the dilemma of fostering a couple weeks ago while puffing our three mile walk.

It is hard to contemplate giving your heart to a child without the prospect of permanency, especially when you so desperately want to be a parent; but is part and parcel of foster care. It is something we continue to try to wrap our heads (and hearts) around. I imagine this process will go on forever now that we are a part of this system.

In trying to relate, and in trying to gently give guidance, I think, my friend, a mother of three, asked “are children a gift (implying permanency) or on loan?”  What she was asking is, if we foster but do not get to keep, how is it really different [from what traditional parents are supposed to do]? From her perspective, it is just shorter duration.  Then she added, “but maybe you get to concentrate the giving you do to the time when the need is greatest.”

That was a gift to me.

Chris and I have talked a lot about these very tough issues in choosing this path and had already come to the same basic conclusion but without the beautifully succinct description. We’ve had to recognize throughout much of the last few years that we really have very little control over lots of things we’d like to control. And so we have determined (and it is an act of the will) to trust that we will not be given more than we can handle, and that the right children will come into our home and into our lives at the right time – for them and for us. What choice do we have? (Feel free to remind me I said this when necessary in the future. This is definitely an ‘easier said than done’ kind of deal.)

So what are we to do? In each and every case, we trust…we do our best, but we give a little bit of our heart away, and we hope, and we pray (assuming, as Sarah would say, that you are the praying kind). There really is no other choice.

We have a friend who is a foster mom, and she has been a great inspiration.  She has had seven children come and go (I should say, she has no interest in adoption). Her prayer, every time one of her precious babies has its permanency hearing is, “God place this child where you know that (s)he will thrive and grow, and give me the peace and strength to accept your will.”

That’s our prayer too, as we turn from one bumpy road on the family building path on to another.

3 thoughts on “Coping, Part 1: When Contemplating the Abstract

  1. Mom May 27, 2010 / 6:15 am

    You two are a GIFT !! It cannot be said better than you have. Children are a loan. They are like baby birds — God gives them to us to nurture and love and raise and launch on their path of life, but He also gives them wings so they can fly, but they come home….Your Little Man will soar!!

  2. common loon May 27, 2010 / 10:05 am

    I’m not sure about the “give a little bit of our heart away” comment. You see, I believe that you give your WHOLE heart to EACH child you have the privilege of parenting, regardless of whether or not they see the light of day, if you have them for a few weeks, months, or even years. What boggles my mind is that it IS possible to give your whole heart away repeatedly (could any parent choose a single child to save if forced to pick just one?). Don’t sell yourself short here, Little Man does have your whole heart!!! That is OK, and how it should be. Fortunately, God made it so that you will have your whole heart to give to EVERY child that comes your way (on loan 🙂 ). The gift is the experience of it all, the good and the otherwise.

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