Have you ever held a broken child in your arms as they cried out for their mommy, hoping, wishing, praying you could do anything to take the pain away? Have you ever tried brushing the teeth of a 2-year- old who screamed in pain because every tooth was decayed due to the neglect they faced at the very hands of their own parents? Have you ever had to sit down two children, both under the age of 5, and explain to them how their mommy is in jail and you have no idea when she’ll be out? Each and every one of these things are true stories. These are the real life moments of being a foster parent, and once you’ve experienced the emotions that sit behind the closed doors of a foster home you will never go back to living life the same way again.
Before fostering I thought I had seen some pretty tough stuff in my 25 years of life, but, boy, was I wrong. I never knew mere children could make me fall to my knees in pain and angst because of the situations they experienced at the very hands of the people who were supposed to love and protect them the most. It has broken me in ways I never once imagined, and because of this, I can never go back to living and seeing life in the same way again.
These past two years of fostering have changed me in ways I never thought possible. Josh, my husband, and I went into fostering to grow our family through adoption. Yes, I know that is backwards, but we thought the easiest way to have a permanent family was to foster and our “goal” was to foster a child that would eventually become available for adoption. Boy, did the Lord wreck our “goals” almost immediately into our journey. I look back now and think how naive I was and how I literally knew nothing. From birth families, to traumas, to case plans, to the court system, I felt like many days I was drowning in the newness of this life that I eagerly welcomed.
To be honest with you, it has taken a full two years for me to feel like I understand what I’m doing most days. A lot of the things I’ve learned have been learned the hard way. I’ve had to have a disrupted placement to understand the types of children that we are the best fit for as a family. I’ve had to sit in an urgent care as a biological mother took a drug test to eventually learn that just because someone made good choices for months doesn’t always mean that they will make good choices forever. I’ve even had to learn to forgive a biological parent when they called in a false abuse report on our home and opened up a required investigation. All of these lessons stung at times. They truly hurt on levels I cannot explain, but the children that have come into our home have changed me even more than these lessons I’ve learned.
The light in each of the eight children’s eyes we’ve welcomed into our home has been dull when they’ve come through our front door. Within weeks or months that sparkling light is finally back and that’s when we know the hard work we’ve done as a foster parent is worth it. The smiles are not forced anymore, the laughter is not subdued, and the cries are minimal. The traumas these little ones have faced from being left home alone as mere toddlers, to babies who could not be found because parents were on drug binges and couldn’t remember where they left their child, to sweet, innocent souls who have been the ones to watch their parents overdose and cried, laying on top of them trying to wake them with no avail, are truly heart wrenching, yet they are the realities of just some of the children who have come into our home. When I hear these stores I’m just as shocked as you are. I may be caring for them and I may be their foster parent and I may have “signed up for this life,” but never will I ever be hardened to the stories and traumas that enter my home in the form of a child.
This is why I want to pour into my children more than I’ve ever done. I finally feel like I’m not drowning anymore, and even on some days feel like I actually know what I’m doing. With this newfound knowledge, I want to use it to love on the children that come into our home. We started out licensed for two children ages 0-2. We are now licensed for four children ages 0-6 and that 4th bed has been filled twice already within only a month. I desire so much to bring in more children who need us, while simultaneously loving and caring for the ones we currently have in our home to the best of my ability. Already the Lord has grown me so much in what He wants from my life, but now it’s time to really dive deep into the passion of loving on the least of these.
The word the Lord has so graciously poured out upon me is “endurance.” I don’t know why I will need endurance, but I know that the Lord has BIG plans for us. Each day I keep thinking we’ll be closer to those BIG plans, but I’ve yet to realize what they are. What I do know though is that if the Lord has so abundantly blessed us in this journey to love on the children He’s placed into our home, I know He’s got even bigger and better plans for the future. I feel strongly an adoption is coming (though there are ZERO indicators as of now to show this), maybe even a pregnancy, and a whole lot of God pouring out his abundant grace and love on our family. I cannot wait to see what God has in store and see how He takes a broken human such as myself and uses it to restore and renew so many little ones’ lives in our home.
Bailey and her husband have been married 4.5 years and live in South Florida with their foster children and crazy dog, Nessie. After suffering from infertility for over a year, they felt the Lord calling them to a life of fostering. They began their fostering journey in September 2015 and took their first placement in January 2016 and have had eight placements over the two years since. Bailey shares glimpses into their life on her blog, Whichever Shoe Fits.