falling on grace

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I spent last Saturday in a room full of twenty-some women, adoptive moms and grandmas and adoptees alike. Grace ran deep, and you will find no more tangible representation of the heart of God than in a room full of women who have parented children whose stories are being redeemed from the worst kinds of trauma and hell. It was messy and painful and heavy and beautiful.

Given the ways our hearts all beat for the same things, I was caught a little off-guard to overhear some of the conversation at dinner. Foster care, even in the world of adoption, still kind of gets a bad rap. At the risk of overgeneralization, most people just don’t get it. Even other adoptive moms.

“You really have to have a different mindset to do that.”
”I just couldn’t give a child back.”

Today, I have to be the very first in line to say that I am struggling with the mental and emotional fortitude that this journey requires. This particular case is requiring a depth of emotion that I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve struggled with fear in a way that I haven’t in a very long time. I’ve struggled with guilt over my feelings. I spend every drive to the visits fighting back nausea and every evening when I snuggle her to sleep fighting back tears. Different mindset indeed.

I’m intimately acquainted with what it takes to ‘give a child back.’ The grief and pain that accompany even the best of those situations is intense. You do it anyway. It’s a mistake to assume that truly loving a child so much means that you would never be able to give that child back to his or her parents. The opposite is true. It takes MORE love to let a child go than to grasp them close. Real love wants the best for someone, even if that best comes at your own expense.

Foster care is complex and conflicted, and sometimes I wish that I were called to do something far easier. I want to believe that I am really making a difference, but that becomes difficult when we receive calls to take back children that are re-entering care after having been reunified with their parents. It becomes difficult when we become familiar with the look of trauma in a child’s eyes, and then we see that exact look in a facebook-posted picture of a little boy that we loved and prayed for and sent back to his family full of hopes for the future. I know what that look means, and it makes me doubt everything we’re doing. It makes me doubt if anyone truly cares for all these kids. It makes me doubt if it’s worth it.

And that’s where I have to break from the whole doubtful, painful mindset thing. IT might not be worth it. But the sweet baby asleep upstairs in her crib IS worth it. She’s worth everything. She’s worth the pain it causes me and our family. She’s worth the doubt and fear and disrupted schedule. She’s worth every single moment we can give her. We might not see the fruition of this time she spends in our home. We might not be the ones who benefit from the healthy attachment and brain development that we’re helping her to build. Is that really what it’s about? How I feel? Whether I have the right mindset? Whether or not I feel like I want to ‘give her back’?

That’s just not what it’s about at all. This is her story, not mine. Ultimately, it’s God’s story we’re all just a part of anyway. He loves each of those kids that have entered and left my home more than I ever could. Do I really believe that? Do I truly believe that each life is God-designed? That each person is worthy?

This is the kind of story I want to be living: the one that tells every tiny person we get to share our home with that they are worthy. That they are created special. That they have a purpose. I am honored to be a part of that. I am blessed beyond measure to get to be, in most cases, the very first person that has ever whispered those truths into their little ears.

Even when the pain is real and the deep threatens to pull us under, we keep our eyes up. Focused on the One who calls us, for He is faithful. We stand on the promises, and when we can’t, we’re falling on grace. This is a story worth telling.

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