Sunday, November 6, 2016

Building a Family: Part 4

Foster Care & Biological Children

Prior to foster care, life was pretty simple.  Two kids.  Two parents.  Even Stevens.  During licensing, our kiddos had been real troopers: not complaining when they had to have yet another babysitter for us to attend more trainings, coming along to classes, giving up their playroom, even helping downsize their massive toy collection.

Tuesday morning our girls woke up to a new reality.

A reality that forced us to abandon our Man-to-Man coverage and move to a Zone defense.  Life would never be the same for our family.  Susannah's status was changing from "baby" to "middle child" - a fate only other middle children can truly understand.  Abigail, who was always in charge and did not handle change well, was being thrown her first curve ball.  How would they react?

It was beautiful to watch.  They were so tender.  So gentle.  They folded her into our family seamlessly.  Hope Child became one of us.  She had been lonely for so long.  Now, her cup runneth over.  We had evolved from merely foster parents into a foster family.

Was it all easy?  Good gracious, no!  Hope Child had so much hurt.  So much pain.  There were tantrums, meltdowns, family trips ruined.  Through it all, Abigail and Susannah loved her with that unimaginably strong love that only sisters can give to one another.  Slowly, healing came.

People frequently ask us about fostering, "What about your girls?  Isn't it hard on them?"

It can be, but we see our purpose as parents different from most.  Our primary parenting goal is not to protect our girls from the world, but to prepare them for it.  We want our kids to be lovers of the unloved.  To be healers of the broken.  That requires opening ourselves up to pain and loss.  When we do, we also receive grace unmeasured.

If you are considering foster care, but have concerns about your biological children, please hear me: it is perfectly fine for you to have reservations.  If God is calling you to foster, He will work all things out according to His great plan.  I'd love to sit with you over a glass of milk and a plate of cookies to talk and pray.

Prepping Your Bio Kids

1. Set up clear expectations.  Who will be sharing rooms?  Will discipline change in your home?
2. Listen to their fears and help address them.  Ask them what they are worried about.
3. Let them help: paint or decorate the bedroom, make a welcome basket or card to leave on the nightstand.  They need to know they are part of this ministry with you.
4. Pray as a family each night that God would prepare you for whatever and whoever He has for you.

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