The American family is in crisis. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and children suffer. Parents don’t bother to marry and children suffer. Some families explode in violence, child abandonment, or drug abuse and CPS picks up the pieces. Here, especially children suffer. How they suffer.
They suffer so much that my daughter would retreat into a shell every time she heard Spanish or her own name spoken aloud. They suffer so much that they come straight from the ER in the middle of the night wrapped in a hospital blanket and dressed only with one sock, a cast, and a diaper. They suffer so much that while I cradle an exhausted and drug addicted four-month old in my arms a doctor lets slip that if he can not learn how to fall asleep he will die.
Imagine your family has fallen apart. You need to leave for your own safety. You’ve seen too much. You’ve been hurt. You’re awfully small in a big world. You need someone to love you. Your mother and your father have let you down, but at least you have your Heavenly Father and Our Mother. You can rest in His arms at any time, but you feel especially close to Our Lady and to your own mom when you are in Mass.
The emergency placement people take you to Mass in a new church, in a new part of town, but all Masses are the same no matter where you are. You know that your mom is going to church somewhere today. It breaks your heart not to be with her, but she’s here somewhere, somehow. She always said we are reunited with all our loved ones through the Eucharist, even the ones in Heaven. Even if you can’t touch her today, you are with her in this small way.
A few days later, you find yourself in a new home. That first time you get ready to go to Mass, they ask you why you’re all dressed up. They look embarrassed when you say you’re ready for Church. “Maybe we’ll go next week,” the foster mom says. “Nobody’s ready this week but you.” Every week, there’s some sort of excuse. After a month or two, you’ve lost even that bit of hope. Would God forgive you for missing Mass if you can’t help it?
His simple love and faith spoke to me. That kind of childlike faith demands an answer, doesn’t it? It called an answering love of Christ in me, an answering hope that maybe I could do something for him, for all those children like him.
Can I help answer some of your fears?
“It Scares Me To Think I Might Have To Give Them Back”
I’ve handed a child back to a social worker 13 times now. One of my adopted daughters was placed with me 3 times before the adoption. It was hard. I hung on the agony of my own loss each time. I’ve had social workers cry on my doorstep at the sight of me and say, “I’m so sorry!” But you know what? My losses count as nothing to these children who need me.
They’ve lost so much. They’ve suffered the loss of their family of origin, some have suffered multiple losses through multiple placements. They’ve lost everything. Sometimes countless times over. I can bear my pain. I’m a big girl. I can take it for their sakes.
I know how to offer that up. I’ve done it before. We hang on the cross for each of our children. You mothers know. Pregnancy is the first of the suffering that we bear for our child. Then childbirth. That’s some serious physical suffering right there. Then there are the countless moments: the illnesses at 2 a.m., bearing their tears when someone makes fun of them at school, their first “I hate you!” We suffer.
We mothers suffer!
We will suffer for these foster children, too. That’s what love is all about. If you think it is too tough to hand them back if you are called, if that is stopping you, don’t be afraid by the possibility of that pain. Love is always worth it. What is love? Love is a person, a choice. It’s not a warm fluffy feeling. It’s a gift of one’s life to the beloved.
Love Himself showed us. He died for us. He suffered so much for us. Maybe you will be privileged to suffer and love for a child you will never forget.
I can tell you I would not trade a moment with any of my foster children for one moment less of my heartache over the loss of them. The love I have received from them, more importantly, the love I have poured out for them has been worth it. I still overflow with love for each of them. It is so beautifully worth it.
“I Don’t Want All the Rules and Paperwork”
Nobody likes the unknown. The paperwork for an adoption is considerable. I had a stack of papers a foot high to slog through for my first adoption. Each paper was akin to a day of pregnancy, “One page closer!” I thought as I tagged another sheet for my husband to sign. Compared to the 23 hours of labor I went through for my oldest, reading, signing, and initialing was a breeze.
There are regulations in every state. They are there for good reason. In one state, we were not allowed to take pictures of foster children. Think about that one for a minute. What type of photographic incident occurred to some poor child to make that rule necessary? We abided it.
You may have a “no trampoline” rule in your state. You may not. The anxiety of all the potential changes you will have to make to accept a foster child into your home will be much more manageable once you know what those rules actually are. You may find yourself in a better position to foster than you thought after you actually speak to someone.
Taking the classes to become trained a trained foster parent is not a commitment to foster, but it will make the process look more “family sized” and it will normalize the process. You may find that you can’t commit to a full time placement, but there is always respite care. That’s when you take a child for a weekend or a few days for various reasons.
“My Children Are Too Young”
You can specify the age of the child you would consider fostering. We’ve always made a rule to foster children who are younger than our youngest. When our youngest was a year old, we only took in infants. Now that our youngest is four, we will take in toddlers and younger.
|The Martin Kids
Fostered, adopted, birthed and mine!