Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
- John 13:1
Photo by Taylor Fiddyment
When you are waiting for a foster care placement, you never know how or by what method the next kiddo will arrive. Our very first placement was an emergency placement that had started as a day as respite from within our own neighborhood and then ended up staying with us for two weeks a week later. Our Baby C, who is still with us now, was a phone call with placement that day because due to some surrounding circumstances we were the only family eligible to be placed with him. When you are first certified, you get the chance to look through a book of kiddos that are currently available, meaning they are already in a foster home but for whatever reasons are not eligible to be adopted by that family, and are looking for a concurrent family, which means a foster home that is willing and able to adopt them if that need arises. It's another way the state has tried to decrease the amount of moves per child, and create as much consistency in each kiddos life. It's not a perfect system, but its definitely a step in the right direction!
When we were first certified we sat down at our social worker's office at a table and flipped through a huge, thick binder full of these beautiful kiddos and their stories. All of the stories made you ache, and yearn to adopt each and every single one of them. Some of them had pictures and full bios, others had only a few sentences with a birthdate, medical history, and contact info.
While Matt and I wanted to scoop up almost every kid in their and just give them a hug, we had to think about compatibility with our own daughter Jamison, who was 3, as well as our remote location, ie long drives to hospitals for long term care, etc. We submitted our homestudy for 6 kids, some of whom we never heard back from, and others who took months to respond.
There were two families who had submitted home studies for Little Boy, ours and another.
In cases like this, a committee of several social workers involved in the child's case (you will never guess the amount of people involved in each and every child's case....between the social workers, county workers, CPS officers, county nurses, and county placement specialists there are usually have a dozen adults to every one child or sibling group) got together and reviewed both of the home studies submitted. We were notified they had a bunch of questions for us. The questions seemed to go back and forth between “Are you even qualified to parent?” and “Really? You’re too good for this kid!" We assured them again, that yes, we were interested. Our social worker said they would reach a decision Friday afternoon.
I woke up on Friday expecting to finally be out of a state of limbo (a place I should have known you take up permanent residence when a foster parent), but instead of a final verdict, the panel of social workers just came back with more info on Little Boy and one final question; would we take him, even knowing that his mom had been considered “slow” in school and that Little Boy had been exposed to alcohol?
My first gut reaction was an absolute enthusiastic YES! and I promptly e-mailed her back saying so. The whole previous week I had ended every e-mail with the conclusion that the committee would do a great job choosing a family for Little Boy, be it our family or someone else, and I had complete peace and confidence in them to do so. Which is a great way to be at peace. And yes, to a large part this whole decision was out of my hands. I knew without a doubt that if God chose us for Little Boy, he would equip us with every resource, skill set, and finances to be able to provide what that boy needed, now and down the road. And if we weren’t chosen, it was because God had something else in mind. As a bonus, that way I got to sit back and let God do the work.
But something started to chew at me a bit from the inside.
But is sitting back really trying to actively follow God? God will still have just as much control even if I fight for this kid, and doesn’t Little Boy deserve a mom who would fight for him, not just put up with him? It was the Friday before Labor Day weekend, so I had a lovely 3 day span to research everything I could about FAS/FAE (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Exposure). By the end of 3 days I was as well equipped and informed as a person could be on a child she hasn’t met yet, and there were absolutely no promises of a rosy perfect child, and a great deal of probability for a huge life changing challenge. But none of that changes the fact that God is always the one in control.
I’m not responsible for what kid we end up with or what the end result is. What I am responsible and accountable to God for is for following him with 100% commitment toward him. My lackluster leaving it in the air for God to handle isn’t commitment, it’s lukewarm. It’s not enthusiasm, it’s halfheartedness.
I had just finished reading my book for that month, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. He has a whole chapter and the majority of the book focusing on lukewarm verses authentic, obsessed Christian. He writes in Chapter 4:
"The only way I know how to respond [to God’s undeserved love] is like the man in one of Christ’s parables. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’ Matthew 13:44. In this account the man joyfully sold all that he had so he could obtain the one thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon, The Kingdom of Heaven, was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him. This kind of enthusiastic response to God’s love is entirely appropriate.
Yet what a contrast to our typical response at discovering the same treasure."
-Francis Chan, Crazy Love
Was I obsessed with pursuing where I thought God was leading us and what he called all of us as Christians to do? Was I going for it with everything in me? Not really.
So I sent out an email to our social worker for her to pass on to Little Boy's social workers and the committee. I told her not just that we would take him, but that we wanted him. I argued the benefits of him coming with us, and the ways in which our family could best serve him. I pointed our previous experiences with family members who had been effected by FAS/FAE, and how we already had experience in handling that kind of trauma. Yes, it made it a lot more likely that we would end up with Little Boy. But if that’s what God wanted, he was going to have it work out that way anyway. And in the end, I need to follow him with obsessed enthusiasm and intentional, not half hardheartedness.
The Psalms are full of this commitment to God. King David screwed up over and over again, yet he is regarding so highly because he was infatuated with God. I want to be infatuated enough to be crazy in pursuit of God’s plans.
In the end, we weren't chosen for Little Boy, and I'm so grateful because just a few months later our Baby C would come home from the NICU. When you have a God who is in control and knows intimately all of the moving puzzle pieces, you can pursue with passion and submit to God's will in prayer, knowing and trusting that his way will be triumphant.
"Sometimes we align our plans with God’s purposes. At other times – certainly in my experience – God overrules our plans. We should always bear in mind that we may have got it wrong and that, ultimately, thankfully, it is the Lord who determines our steps."
-Nicky Gumbel, BiYO
My bible study this morning listed this, and it reminded me of the Little Boy we fought for and were not placed with. Ironically enough, that research and time I spent in August studying Little Boy's case would leave me feeling more confident and secure in my abilities to take care of Baby C when he was placed with us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.