Being OK With Auntie
In my first post I shared that God has changed my heart in big ways through foster care, and I wanted to share one of these ways with you. I started foster care with the attitude that this child needed to be adopted by us, the sooner the better, and that birth parents were clearly the wrong choice for permanency. However, the reality is that permanency is not in my control and the name of the game in foster care is flexibility. (Which, if you have any perfectionist tendencies or control issues, is incredibly stretching! Not that I would know…)
Without sharing too many details, it was quickly revealed to me that the permanency I had envisioned wasn’t likely. If God wants us to welcome a child into our home permanently, He is completely capable of making that happen, but I am not in control of if and when that may happen. The Bible urges us to guard our hearts, and for me that meant coming to a place where I was not expecting adoption to be our reality. Holding dreams with an open hand is very difficult, but deepens our trust in our heavenly Father. I began praying that my heart would be tender towards my foster child without expectations. (Ouch!) I also began praying that I would have a love for the birth parents. (Incredibly painful!) Guess what? It turns out that when we pray according to the Father’s will, He acts! God began to develop a love in me for the people who used to feel like my enemies, and the relationship continued to build in a (mostly) positive way.
In the midst of this, I had a light bulb moment which was, I’m sure, not accidental. If I could think of myself not as my foster child’s mother, but as his or her aunt, I could stretch my heart to love beyond just this precious child. If this were a different situation and my biological niece or nephew were in my home, I would care for her or him as my own, loving them and wanting their very best. However, I would also have a place in my heart for this child’s parents as well; they would be my family! I needed a change in my mentality. So, thus began the journey of loving those that are not easy to love. Which, by the way, is how Christ loves me. And, how Christ calls me to love others.
What an amazing opportunity to love not only a child who needs us, but the parents who also desperately need compassion, grace and truth. There is most certainly a place for protecting children, but the truth is also that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, and to think so is to be a pharisee (ouch again!). So, while we pray for permanency (and soon!) for our foster children, we also love their parents and want their best. I by no means have this mastered, and I struggle often with resentment and frustrations, but I am thankful that God is all about working miracles in our hearts by making them new. He has a way of changing our hearts when we are willing to be obedient and submit to Him. My heart still aches to adopt some day, but I know that He has our family right where He wants us to be for now.