On preparing to be a foster parent

Picture 10

fos·ter /ˈfôstər/

  • Verb: Encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good.)
  • Adjective: Denoting someone that has a specified family connection through fostering rather than birth.
  • Synonyms: verb.  raise – cherish – bring up – nurture – nurse – cultivate; adjective.  adopted

Craig and I never ruled out the possibility of adoption “some day,” but it’s so so so easy to put “some day” into that category of “Okay, we’re open, but let’s be real here…NO.”

“Some day” becomes that lofty ideal of some future time when sin ceases to exist in ourselves and our family, when finances no longer cause tension between spouses, when tidiness isn’t simply something we aspire to, but something we live.

In short, “some day” never comes.

Last month, I attended the 8308 Conference here in Oklahoma City. I had a feeling I would walk away knowing something would change for us, but I had no idea how.

Here’s a little bit of the how:

There’s that word again: restored. That’s what we want to be about, but here’s the deal – it sounds so absurd to be about the business of helping restore families, helping restore tiny lives, helping restore people when our own lives seem everything but so much of the time.

That night, after I spent the day with my heart on the outside of my body and meshed with some seemingly random statistic that was quickly becoming less random as the day wore on, Craig and I looked around the house and sighed. Dishes in the sink, on the counter; homework on the couch, on the floor; laundry on the bed, under the bed; a child of our own, in her room for 30 minutes until she could control her attitude.

What were we thinking?

What are we thinking?

And he says, “Does it make sense to bring another child into our completely chaotic lives?” And I say, “No, it doesn’t. But is there any chance that our brand of chaos is a haven compared to the version of chaos they’ve been living in until now?”

And we’re quiet because we know that mis-managed laundry and lazy habits are indeed better.

And we’re quiet because we know that no matter how busy our lives are now, somehow we’re managing the busy on behalf of six and what’s one or two more?

And we’re quiet because we know we’re in the biggest house we’ve ever lived in for the entire 15.5 years we’ve been married so far.

And we wonder. God? What are you doing here?

The 8308 Conference mentioned above was so named because, as of January 1 of this year, there were 8,308 children in Oklahoma state custody. Here’s  a little bit of what I came home with that night from Ben Nockels (111 Project), Josh Bottomly, Nathan Mellor, Guy Feist, Kelly Rosati, Michelle Kelley and others, as taken from my “tweet notes” that day:

  • James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
  • We have a serious problem in Oklahoma. Over 103K abuse allegations and less than 3 million population.
  • Their lives have become invisible to us and we have become numb.
  • The problem isn’t the system; it’s the condition of my heart and yours to allow these kids to become nameless and faceless.
  • The gospels are all about Jesus going into chaos and bringing order.
  • God has given us everything we need for this, and either you believe that or you don’t.
  • Create margin in life so God can do great things in your life. Look for an opportunity for radical obedience.
  • If we’re really about the sanctity of life, we have to do something.
  • There are 7,000 churches in Oklahoma. We should NOT have an orphan crisis here. We need to do more than talk about it. We need to DO it.
  • Wondering if fostering is the right thing for you? It is always right to take care of children.
  • Not everyone is called to BE the foster parent, but everyone IS called to care for orphans in some capacity.

So. Here we are, some 3.5 weeks after this snapshot in time and still moving forward. Craig and I attended an orientation meeting with one local group, but it didn’t seem like the right fit for us. Although we did connect with one Atlanta parent with a similar outlook as us, it wasn’t enough for us and we found another. I attended their orientation last night, sans Craig, who is in Ohio with Michael Card and the Biblical Imagination Conference, but with all the girls.

And today I’m filling out paperwork. Preparing for fingerprinting. Remembering life with diapers and car seats and strollers and bottles and realizing just what a major game changer this whole thing actually is.

And scary? Yes.

Even still, it’s right. And we know it.