It has been a fascinating experience telling people that we're pursuing foster care.
When we announced that we were adopting, we got adulation, encouragement, and horror stories.
When we announced that we were having a baby, we got excitement, big hugs, and horror stories.
But, when we started telling people that we were pursuing foster care, we got horror stories, horror stories, and horror stories.
And then some more horror stories.
And a few more.
In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people that expressed excitement and encouragement. It was a very small number of people who reacted with joy and a pat on the back. Only a very small percentage were thrilled that this was the path we were taking.
I was not one of that small percentage.
This was not my plan.
We have some friends who, even while they were dating, talked about their home being a haven for hundreds of children. They talked about the beauty of foster care, the selfless love, the willingness to spend yourself... and then have a baby ripped away. And they were game. They were ready.
I was not.
I don't like foster care. It's a broken system. I don't like getting in other people's lives. I don't like nurturing a baby and then have it be taken from me. I don't like the idea of countless meetings. I don't like the idea of handing a baby over to someone with sub-par parenting skills. I don't like it.
God pushed me here.
I don't have a naturally selfless heart. I don't have a generous spirit. I don't have bountiful love.
So, God pushed me here.
Adoption was part of my "plan." Natural child-birth was part of my "plan." But foster care? Not part of my plan.
God pushed me here.
Adoption is too expensive. Natural child-birth is too dangerous (for me and my sick body). Suddenly, I was out of options, and standing in the middle of a childless desert, clutching three convictions I knew to be true.
I knew these three things were true. God proclaimed them. I cling to them. And suddenly, He had cut off all other avenues. And He was there, looking down at me, asking, "Do you really believe? Do you really trust me? Do you know that my truth is enough?"
Then He asked a very sobering question, "Are you going to back-up your convictions with actions? Even if these actions are unpleasant and unplanned? Are you willing to sign-up for something you deem "miserable" because you know my commands are marvelous?"
So. Here I am. Getting finger-printed by the FBI, sitting through a sexual education seminar (in which we discussed the "right age" to make a drawer full of condoms available to your children and how to help them masturbate "appropriately"), filling out piles of paperwork, and buying cribs, dressers, and booster seats like they're going out of style.
Because I believe these three things:
1. Love doesn't care.
Love doesn't care if you're going to be ripped from our home. Love doesn't care if I dump massive resources into a toddler and then the toddler is taken away. Love doesn't care if it hurts me. Love only cares about you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
In my head, I always read this verse in the context of martyrdom. Will I be willing to die for Christ? That's not what the verse says (sure, it's what it implies, but stay with me!). Am I willing to give up my life. My schedule. My safety. My convenience. My money. My heart. My ease. My comfort. My insulation from pain. My life. Am I willing to scrap everything that I hold dear, because of love?
My answer has to be "yes." It's a painful "yes." But if I claim Christ's name, then I must also claim his painful, inconvenient, life-sacrificing love.
2. Children are a blessing.
We live in a world that doesn't believe this. Oh, we believe children are a rare treasure. You should only have a couple of them. You should lavish them with everything they could possibly ask or imagine. You should let the one or two you have run your home, run your marriage, and run you.
But we don't believe that children are a blessing.
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)
Notice, there are no caveats on "children." It doesn't say: "healthy children are a gift from the Lord." It doesn't say "emotionally well-adjusted children," "beautiful children," "well-behaved children." It just says "children."
I love kids. Love 'em. And if I am to live as though ALL CHILDREN are a blessing, then I can not pick and choose those I will love based on their history, back-story, or whether or not they are "permanently mine."
3. I must practice what I preach.
This basically ties into the previous two points, and all other un-listed points on life, love, and being like Christ.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27)
I'm supposed to be caring for the "social outcasts." People in their distress. This isn't just about these stranded kids. It's also about their families. I am to care for these women and children in distress. If I am actually practicing "genuine religion." I hate a good hypocrite. I'd also hate to wake up one morning and realize that I am a hypocrite.
So, that's it. I'm falling in love with a crazy form of love. I'm not holy enough and intentional enough to have arrived here on my own. God shoved me into a corner, desperately clutching my beliefs, and then he asked me, "Are you willing to live it out?"
And I gulped.
And said, "yes."
This is crazy, but this is good. This is amazing. This is terrifying. This is where God wants me. And I'm excited. And reluctant. And thrilled. And horrified.
Hello, foster care. It's gonna be a great ride...