Today I don't like foster care. My heart feels like it's on a never ending roller coaster ride- one that jostles and whips you around and has a thousand loops and no end in sight. The kind you are excited for as you wait in line and get on but then once you're at the top you're wondering if it was all a big mistake. You're clutching on to that bar and bracing yourself, you have moments of fun and laughter while you catch your breath, but then your stomach lurches again on the next turn.
I compare fostering to roller coasters and marathons, both of which I hate, so I should probably find some new metaphors! But the fact is, I actually love being a foster mom. It's been one of my greatest joys and toughest challenges. (And we are only a year in!) The emotions have really been smacking me in the face lately though. A lot of people see the good side, the sweet social media posts and the post nap time moods. It can look easy to just rescue these kids that come from trauma and shower them with love and form that attachment. Who wouldn't love a sweet innocent baby?? On a bad day, I should probably raise my hand (Insert guilt). But it's not always about the child, it's more so the awkward new normal that foster care just is. It's the constant changing and unknown. It's the fact that court becomes a familiar place and you know way too many legal acronyms. You plan your week/month around visitation with the bio-family, home check-ins from case managers and doctor appointments. You start doing research after bedtime on how to handle trauma behaviors that you learned about in class, but didn't actually anticipate seeing first hand before you had your morning coffee. You are expected to love this child just like your own, but you are reminded almost on a daily basis that they are not. It's a strange balance and it's a lot to ask of a person. Every time an update comes I have to get my head around the "new plan", sometimes it sounds like he will be here forever, other times they act like he could leave tomorrow. There is always a relative popping out of the woodwork that he may be placed with. In the beginning I was hoping for that relative, I wanted to see some sort of finish line because this was so much harder than I thought. I needed a countdown to endure the craziness. But then you attach and build memories together and your mind goes towards the possibilities of being a forever family. There are days I think I just have to adopt this child, and there are also days the thought of adoption absolutely terrifies me. It's hard teetering back and forth on that line. But I know that's what fostering is. It's the radical risk-taking love that promises to give and maybe never receive. It's what we hear on Sunday mornings but is so against our flesh.
It's revealing parts of me that are ugly, and sometimes I want to blame the ugliness on "foster care". Or just the fact that I have two babies, just seems like a good excuse most days. I was never this erratic before right guys?! God will use any trial to refine us and bring all the yucky stuff to the surface so He can find the gold, its painfully good.
We have a lot of big court dates and meetings approaching us and I'm frustrated and confused. The waiting is hard. I would absolutely love your prayers dear friends, I can't share all the details but it can feel like a lose-lose situation sometimes. My heart truly breaks for his Mom, the thought of her rights being terminated forever if she can't make progress on her case plan. But there sure are days I feel like it's what's best for him and my Mama bear side kicks in fiercely and says "he's MINE, I've raised him and kept him safe!" I don't feel like being the bigger person and continually reaching out, its exhausting. It would be SO much easier to pretend his parents weren't around. But that's not the reality and my husband has graciously reminded me that we've had a strong conviction since the beginning to love them through the mess. It can be truly awful having a front row seat to someone else's journey through pain and brokenness...it hits way too close to home having their child as you watch! Nothing can prepare you for those emotions, and it is SO hard to explain to your friends or family who may have more of a detached view. It's easier to judge and just write these parents off. Praying this week I was reminded that it's not a losing battle, though it may feel like one. We serve a God of redemption and making beauty from ashes. We see the mess and the chaos, and we have a thousand questions, but He is always working behind the scenes! I want to be able to trust that His plans are good, for all parties involved. This year of pouring out my heart and soul is not a waste, no matter which way the case goes, no matter how I "feel" (which may be pretty crappy some days). God calls us to love and serve people and He sees it differently than the world does. It's in the choosing and in the hard, the loving on purpose and with intention. I honestly don't know how to love like that, but I'm going to keep grabbing the Lord's hand and taking the next step forward.