Our journey through foster care has been refining and revealing of so many ‘heart deficits.’ The further we get into this the more clearly we understand the risk we have taken in loving a child who may leave us one day…. and the more clearly we understand why God has asked us to.
My hope when we originally sought foster certification was to grow our family by adopting a child through foster care. I believe fully that if the Lord allows it this may happen one day with one or more future foster children, however, adoption is no longer the reason we’re doing this. Foster care is the reason we’re doing this. Foster children are the reason we’re doing this. Birth families are the reason we’re doing this. Broken families, broken hearts, broken lives, grace, LOVE, redemption… that’s why we’re doing this.
The families and children affected by our foster child’s situation have molded our experience and changed our hearts. These people matter. Their hearts matter, their sadness and brokenness matters. Baby boy’s heart matters and his sweet mama’s heart matters too.
When we as a community of believers say that we can’t do this because we could never love a child who may leave us one day, we’re not only saying “no” to the children in foster care, but we’re saying “no” to their mamas and daddies who need to be loved and prayed for with the same fervency as their children… to the brothers and sisters who grieve for their siblings who are growing up without them…
These are people who need grace and healing just as much as you and I do. These are broken people. And I’m a broken person, a broken mama.
If this foster care journey has taught me anything, it’s that.
I. Am. Broken.
I. Need. Jesus.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.”
Folks, Jesus is the only way we can do this. His grace, so amazing, poured down on this wretched heart of mine, rescuing me from a pit I didn’t even know I was in. Grabbing my heart held hostage by sin, cleansing it with His blood, making it His own, revealing the needs of the world and His children to me, to us as His children, burdening our hearts for these families who are as broken as I am, held hostage by their own sins that may look different from mine but are no different to our great God, using this heart that He has cleansed to reveal His cleansing grace to families who are grieving and need to feel His presence.
When we got into this I never imagined falling in love with the families of our potential foster children. How blessed I am to have one specific person on this journey to remind me how important love is. How much beauty and grace and preciousness I would have missed out on if I had closed the door on loving these people we have grown so close to.
How much truth I would have missed out on. Truth about myself, the condition of my heart, my need for healing, the piecing together of the brokenness that I wasn’t even aware of. Self-righteousness, ugliness, and the filthy selfish desire for my own fulfillment despite the pain of others.
This is not about gaining a child for our family, this is about gaining a family for our family. This is about sharing our hearts with families in crisis and building relationships, sharing grace, sharing Jesus. Ten years down the road if we have one twelve year old daughter and a network of families who we have loved, witnessed reunification, seen the grace of God work through our little family, and are able to maintain those relationships and encourage and point towards Christ, I believe we will have done just what the Lord has asked us to do. I believe we will have experienced the greatest grief and most beautiful joy simultaneously and I believe it will have been worth it. I believe our hearts will have broken and been mended time and time again by our great Physician, more and more pieces put together with every child we care for, showing us who He desires us to be and how He desires us to love.
Friends, will you pray for these families with us? The mamas and daddies, brothers and sisters, grandparents, each heart involved these children’s lives, that they will find the healing and peace that only Jesus Christ can give, that they would experience His presence each moment of each day and that they will know without question how very loved they are. And will you pray for my heart and your heart too? That we will recognize our brokenness, our need for healing, peace and the experience of God’s presence daily. That our hearts would be broken for families in crisis and would be moved to do whatever God would ask us to do, even if that means risking our own hearts so that families can grow stronger, know Jesus and raise their children to do the same.
Anna Kathryn is a wife and mom of one three year old biological daughter and one son who was recently adopted through foster care. There is not a time in her life that she doesn’t remember a strong call from the Lord to care for children in crisis. Growing up as a ‘house parent’s kid’ at a children’s home in Georgia led to working at two private Christian children’s home in Tennessee and Georgia and one state funded group home in Louisiana. These experiences revealed her own adoption in Christ and grew her desire to answer the call He placed on her life as a child. Respite care, foster care and her son’s adoption have been truly life changing experiences that she writes about on her personal blog Everyday Mercies.