Friday, March 14, 2014

foster care, adoption and my heart

"He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy." - David Crowder Band (How He Loves)

Tonight I went to my friend E's house to drop off some things she lent us for the Priceless fundraiser and she invited me in for a visit. I deeply admire E and her husband A and their love for others. They express this love most tangibly and visibly to me in being foster parents. They have raised 4 children and now have 5 (I think?) grandchildren. They began fostering around 15 years ago and have had 15 children live with them, some for a short time, others, like little L, for longer. They typically get the children when they are newborn or shortly thereafter and the children may have substance dependencies through their mother or other special needs that need extra special love.

As I sat there and watched as E, and then A, cuddled little baby J, my heart wanted to simultaneously burst and melt.

You see, my Mami has always looked out for the vulnerable, the down-trodden and the "underdogs". I got that trait from her, no doubt about it.

Foster care is part of my family story. It isn't part of my personal story but it affected both of my brothers. So while I didn't personally live in a foster home or experience the stories my brothers did, foster care impacted me. My oldest brother and I grew up on two different continents, unbeknownst to each that the other existed. My other brother lived in a few different foster/youth care homes when he wasn't at home with us. I remember hearing about the women that took my brother and other youth into their homes and often wondered what life was like for him. We grew up as brother and sister, but (in my mind) with vastly different upbringings. When I went to Westview Secondary, I would walk past a home that my brother stayed in sometimes and I remember the pang of hurt wondering why he couldn't just come home and live with us. And yet although I wondered, I knew. By the time my oldest brother and I met, shortly before my 22nd birthday, I had heard from him the stories of being in foster care at a young age. I wondered why I never lived in a foster home.

Families in my church would foster children and it just seemed normal.

I heard stories of teenage girls getting pregnant and pondering abortion and I would pray and plead that they would choose life. I believed that someone had to love these babies and out of that, grew my heart for adoption.

Many adopted children also know the life of being a foster child. These children and youth need love. They need the love of friends, of mentors, but most of all, of Christ.

As Christians, we are also adopted. I am adopted by God the Father into his family, through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. I am now a co-heir with Christ. God is my Father and I am his precious, adopted child.

I pray that one day I too, will have the privilege of caring for and loving children that so desperately need someone. If as a Christian I say that I am pro-life, I believe that I must be willing to step in the gap, to walk alongside the woman with the unplanned pregnancy and hold her hand, and when necessary, her baby. That may mean fostering, or adopting, or simply mentoring. My heart's desire is that God will give me the opportunity to pour out love on others through fostering and/or adoption.

I am humbled and grateful that the man I am dating and hope to marry, agrees. The topic of adoption came up so naturally early on in our relationship and it was such a comfort that he didn't flinch or run away, but that he embraced the idea wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

Lord-willing, one day. And until then, my heart aches and beats for those who step in the gap, and those for whom the gap is filled. May God grant his children the courage and the compassion to take the vulnerable children into their homes and teach them of the greatest adoption story ever told: John 3:16.

He is jealous for me,
And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.

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