Recently, I was asked to give an unromatic view of foster care. I thought: "well, just come eat dinner at my house. Or, even better - come to a restaurant. But honestly, maybe I do write more about the beautiful or spiritual side of foster care than the hard or ugly parts. I would dare to say that foster care is not romantic at all. You are stepping into a life that reveals the brokeness of the world and of yourself. So here it goes.
It is lonely and isolating sometimes. Especially in a roomful of moms or families. The truth is, you don't ever feel like you completely belong. Your life is similar in so many ways, you may be in the throes of potty training or sleep training, or any other normal parenting issue, but the differences are glaringly obvious and huge. You maybe doing all that only to send the kiddos home in six months and then to start all over again with the next ones. Even the most sensitive and supportive friends sometimes say hurtful things because the truth is: they do not understand the life you are living and they have no point of reference for it.
Also, with every new placement of kiddos comes the inevitable basic skills that have to be taught. Toilet training almost-four-year-olds. Sleep training children of all ages. Teaching them to eat with a spoon. Trying to teach children to exist on more than chicken nuggets and fries. Every time I get a new placement, I wonder: how many kids will I toilet train in my life? How many will I sleep train?
This is a life where you willingly hand your heart over to be pulvarized time and time again, knowing full well exactly what is going to happen. A life where every other week, I pull a screaming child out of his crying mother's arms, strap him in a car seat and drive 60 miles away from an exchange that was never part of God's design. All the while, there is a chorus in the back seat of "No mama! Mommy!" Meaning: I do not want you mama Rachel! I want my mommy! Or the unending grief over the kids who have come and gone before. The lack of closure. The not knowing how to grieve because how do you grieve the loss of someone who was never intended to stay and who hasn't passed away? There's the knowledge that often times, you are sending kids back to situations that are not much different than the ones they were taken from.
Here is the clincher: The enemy he doesn't want you to be a foster parent. He doesn't want you to adopt. You will come under attack. Your marriage, your career, your finanaces, and any other area he can get to. You see, Satan is already having his way in these children's lives, their families. His mission is to rip them apart. He hates it when you step in and speak Jesus over them. When you start praying and contending for a family that, maybe, no one else is, he hates that. Orphan care foster care...whatever you want to call it, it is not romantic it is war. A necessary war.