“But don’t you get attached? I would.” I can’t count the number of times I hear something similar to this a week. I was watching a talk show last week that did a feature on foster care. After several minutes of talking about the need for more foster families and even specific stories one in which a 4 year old died, the talk show host asked a foster family, “But…don’t you get attached.” You just reported that a child died. Died. But you are wondering how a family can do something that makes them sad? Seriously?
Would a paramedic say, “I can’t work this wreck. There are children involved. It would make me sad afterwards.” Would a surgeon say, “I can’t operate on this baby. What if he doesn’t make it. It would be so sad.” How can Christians say, “I see a child that has been beaten nearly to death, but I don’t want to take care of him. It would make me sad when he leaves my home.” I get so tired of trying to answer this question. Sometimes, I answer it with grace the way I should. But I still can’t really come up with a short answer. It also makes it hard that people ask me this at the strangest times. (To read the long answer scroll back to my post The End of Me). And sometimes you catch me in a moment of either hurt or frustration …or just the craziness of this bunch of kids and I stumble over my words or smile silently to keep the tears from starting. Did you just hear our baby call my husband daddy? My kids introduce her as their sister? You don’t think that pierces my soul when I know what lies ahead? You didn’t see her run into my arms and plant a sloppy kiss on my cheek? Do you really want to know if I get attached? It’s not really what you’re asking is it? It’s plain to see I’m attached. We’re all attached. We’d be really
crappy foster parents parents family Christians humans if we didn’t get attached. These kids are desperate for love. Say what you really mean. Or do you even know what you really mean when you ask this question? I didn’t understand it for the two years I fought against saying yes.
We are doing respite care for a one year old boy this week while his foster mom is on a mission trip. A mission trip where she will help a group spread the gospel. The gospel I believe is for the whole world to hear. The gospel I believe changes everything, is the answer to everything, is everything this whole life is about. Can I keep her kid while she goes? Oh… I went through my normal selfish list of ways it would inconvenience me this week before I said yes. Last night the two babies crawled back and forth down my long hallway. I chased after them and pretended like I was making them get back to the living room. They were both laughing that deep belly, can’t catch my breath laugh. It stole my heart. I thought about how both these kids would be in foster care whether or not I was a part of foster care. I get the privilege of spending time with them.
“But I would get attached,” is an excuse. It sounds more compassionate than, “I’m too selfish to live like that.” I know it’s an excuse, because it’s what I used for years. And I’m still not over it. I ask God constantly to give me the power to get over my self.
Just be honest. Just say, “I bet it’s hard. I’m not willing to do it.” I won’t think you are a bad person. It is hard, and I know it’s not for everyone. But will you stop trying to convince me that you love more than I do, so you choose to do nothing. It doesn’t make any sense.
Mandy Snider is a Christian, wife, mother, teacher and new foster mom. She and her husband Mike have 3 biological children ages 14, 13, and 11. They also have a 15 year-old boy who lives with them as they “do life” with his family. They just said goodbye to their first placement through DHR, a one year-old little girl. They live in Hayden, Alabama. They long to see more people in their area step up to the call of foster care. They have experienced God in a mighty way this past year through the ministry of foster care and as they began opening their hearts to love the people around them better. They are flawed, sinful, and selfish. Yet, God is at work to use them and change them anyway. You can follow their story at www.fostercaretheendofme.blogspot.com.