Foster Care: Things that Make You Go Hmm

Ana and water

The other day Ana and I were playing at the park with friends. Her friend took a sip from his water bottle, then passed it Ana’s way. The dad chimed in, “We only share our drinks with family, son.”

The logic made sense to me. It also brought me back to those first few days when Ana came to live with us…

Ana moved in and it was just a day or two before she was reaching for my spoon, my water glass, and my ice cream cone. Her simple and unspoken requests were innocent enough. She was hungry. She was thirsty. She loves ice cream.

Her toddler hands reached.

My adult brain hesitated.

I was mid-gulp of water and caught off guard. The same thing our friend said out loud at the park manifested as a brief internal struggle for me. I too only like to share my glass and my spoon and my ice cream – especially my ice cream – with my family.

The appeals were small. The implications of my response were not. We had just met this child and didn’t know how long she would be with us. How were we going to define this relationship? Was she… “family?”

These are the things you don’t think about when you sign up to be a foster parent. These are the things they don’t train you for. We could not have guessed that something as insignificant as sharing a glass of water, could represent something as meaningful as sharing a life.

The hesitation was fleeting, though this wasn’t the last time I hesitated. Simple things “normal” families take for granted, like cleaning off a child’s bloody boo-boo, and taking family photographs, begged the question be answered again: “How would we define this relationship?”

I tipped the glass up and helped Ana’s little head swig back a mouthful of my water. I handed over the ice-cream cone and watched as a tiny tongue smeared saliva all over my treat. With these seemingly insignificant gestures, we were family.

XO,

Kara

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What Love Looks Like

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“I miss my papa,” she said.

It was nighttime. Dark in the room. She rested her tangled head of curls on my shoulder. I held her and did a few paces around the bed before crawling into it. We were staying at my mom’s house in Arizona. We were day 4 into a 10-day stretch of being away without Adam. This was the 3rd night in a row she had whispered this to me, and the whispers continued until Adam arrived.

Adam got to town one night around midnight and sneaked into the room Solana and I were sharing. I had told Ana her daddy would be there in the morning. She was pleasantly surprised when she woke up in the middle of the night to find him lying next to her. She spoke to him with quiet and giddy excitement. She made him stick out his arm so she could nest into the crux of his armpit. He hugged her tight. He was love wrapped around her.

I smiled into my pillow. “This is what love looks like,” I thought.

At first blush this little encounter probably seems unremarkable. A child loving and missing their parent is a given. Or at least I had always thought so. Instead, I stand as a witness to a brokenhearted father who poured his love out to a little girl who wanted nothing to do with him.

You see, Ana came to us with chapters of mistrust for men already written in her life’s storybook. At a year and a half she had been burned and had learned her lesson. Men were no good. Men hurt people. Men were something to run from.

I remember a night not so long ago when I stood in the kitchen with my husband. We were new to parenting. New to foster parenting. We were tired. Beat down. Uncertain what the future would hold. Uncertain we were doing anything right. Ana was sleeping and though Adam is a man who is strong and steady he looked at me with tears in his eyes. He was deflated. A well of untapped hope and love and unmet expectations for fatherhood was finally bubbling over.

“Your kid is not supposed to hate you,” Adam choked. “This is not how first time fatherhood is supposed to feel.”

I ached for him. This was a path he was walking alone. For months I was the one who got to hold our daughter and hug her. I dealt out love and felt its warmth returned. I was the one she ran to, cried for, and wouldn’t let go of. She was looking for someone to feel safe with and I was her girl.

I played babies and blocks while Adam did the dishes and the laundry. I gave baths and got smiles while Adam walked the dog in the cold and took out the trash in the snow. Adam worked behind the scenes to keep things in our house together. Our daughter hardly noticed him.

In the beginning Adam would reach for Ana often. Time and time again she recoiled, or screamed at him, or ran away. She hit Adam, pinched him, and pulled his hair. If he dared to pick her up she flew into hysterics. He quickly learned and started to reach for her a little less. He gave her time and space to heal. He never stopped reaching altogether though, and if ever there was the off chance that she was willing to give just a little something, he was right there to relish in her love and let it sustain him until the next time.

On occasion Adam would let us know he was hurting. Mostly he just kept his head down and loved like he does. Quietly. Persistently. With the hope but not the expectation that he would be loved in return. He kept on doing the dishes. He took out a lot of poopy diapers. He did not give up.

My husband’s patience with our daughter has taught me more about God’s love for us than anything I’ve ever read or seen or heard about before. Day after day God washes our dirty laundry and throws out our poopy diapers. So often we don’t even notice. But He is there. Loving like my husband did. Quietly. Persistently. With the hope but not the expectation that we would love him in return.

I think it’s time to stop running. I think it’s time to let your daddy love you.

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XO,

Kara

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not give up. It never fails. – said at every wedding ever

 

All of the pictures in this post were taken by the lovely and talented Melissa Young, who just so happens to be Solana’s auntie and my sister. Thank you Mel. You are THE BEST!!

http://www.melissayoungphotography.com

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www.melissayoungphotography.com

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Daughter, This is Who You Are

A story about the honest, imperfect, messy love in adoption.

Hugs for Momma on Adoption Day. Photo cred to Adam Gilbert

Daughter,

It is the middle of the night. Your newborn brother is sleeping soundly next to me. I should be taking advantage of that by trying to sleep myself, but I can’t. There are things you need to know. Things you might wonder about when you are 12, or 15, or 20. Things I need to say before time turns the answers to your questions about memories and conversations and reasons why into foggy hues of grey.

November 24th, 2014 was your adoption hearing. You would no longer be “Little A,” a number in the state’s foster care system, or a child in limbo.

November 24th was the day we would be recognized for the family we had become.

November 24th was one of the best days of your daddy and I’s life.

November 24th was the day you would get a new name.

I had visions of the perfect celebration for your adoption day. I should have known. Instead, your adoption day turned out a lot like how adoptions really are.  It turned out a lot like how life really is. It was messy. And honest. And imperfect.

And it was beautiful.

Adoption Day!

“You wish to change your daughter’s name to Solana Alejandra Gilbert?” the judge inquired from the front of the courtroom.

You had skipped your nap that day and you were loaded up on a party weekend’s worth of sugar. There was a substantial audience of state workers present to witness our new beginning. We had tried to explain to you in advance what was going on, but it had to be more than a bit confusing. Any of these things may have thrown you off that day. Or maybe it was just the fact that you were two. At any rate, it was a court proceeding to write home about (or maybe one to keep a secret!).

That day your dad and I sat at the same desk your bio mom had occupied throughout her involvement with the court. The judge hammered us with questions about ourselves and our intentions and our family. During this time you made it your mission to distract us and everyone else from the business at hand. You fidgeted and squirmed, whined and loudly demanded your way, and splashed drinking water all over the expensive wooden desk. The floor beneath you was littered with your deconstructed paper cup. You paid zero attention to the judge’s questions or to my pleas for you to behave.

And then the judge came to the name change question.

“Adam and Kara, you wish to change your daughter’s name to Solana Alejandra Gilbert?”

Your over-stimulated little head shot up from your busy work. “I noooooottt Solana Gilbert,” you proclaimed to the world loudly. You said it with conviction. You looked the judge in the black robe straight in the eye.

Well… Crap.

I flinched.

The judge raised an eyebrow.

Your daddy kept his composure. “Yes. We do.”

Only a few months have passed since that day and you have already embraced your new name. We know this because when Santa Claus called out “Solana Gilbert” at your preschool, you bolted out of your seat and ran to his lap to retrieve your gifts. Your dad smirked. I know what he was thinking. “Who’s Solana Gilbert now?”

Your reaction in court on adoption day probably sums up adoption pretty well. It’s not lost on your dad or I that one of the best days of our lives may carry with it some heaviness for you. While your adoption day is a day to celebrate the making of our family, it is also forever a day that will represent the loss of your bio family. Your dad and I get that. We want you to know that however you feel about it throughout the years, it’s okay. And your feelings do not have to be a secret. You already made them clear when you were two. :o)

A messy beautiful adoption day in all its realness.

I am not sure if it was “Solana” or “Gilbert” that you were reacting to in court that day. I don’t think you were sure either. I do want you to know that changing your first name was a tough decision and one that your dad and I struggled through making. We spent months talking it over. Ultimately, here is why we did what we did…

Let me start by saying it really makes no difference what your name was yesterday, is today, or will be tomorrow. We love the person you are, the heart you have, and the fact that we get to call you daughter. Your name does not change YOU.

But…. we did reason that perhaps your name would impact the way you saw yourself. We wanted to give you a name that we felt fit who you were. We wanted to give you a name that would tell you what you meant to us.

There is a story in the Bible where God gives the gift of a name to a dude named Simon. Jesus says to Simon, “now I am going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.”

I’ve always been a little jealous of this situation.

Some people… many people… spend their whole lives trying to figure out who they “really are.” Simon was lucky enough to have it stated for him by the freakin’ God of the universe. God said, “you are a rock,” (the rock on which I will build my church) and Simon left the conversation with a new name and a sense of purpose.

We chose the name Solana for you because it means sunshine. That is “who you are, really are.” (Unless that is not who you want to be and then when you are old enough we will talk.)

You are our sunshine

We also felt a new name would befit your new future.

Throughout our interactions with your bio parents one thing struck us. We could not help but notice how consistently alone they were.

In one particular meeting I watched as your lawyer delivered unpleasant scenario after unpleasant scenario to your bio mother. Your mom sat by herself on the lonely side of the room in a cold metal chair. She was told that she had made progress towards getting you back but that it probably was not good enough. She wiped a tear away. Nobody was there to hold her hand, pat her knee, or pass her a tissue.

My eyes were looking at your mother in that chair, Ana, but my heart was seeing you. Like a scene from A Christmas Carol, what could have been your future played out before us. Your papa and I left there that day determined. The lonely side of the room was for the girl you were and could have been. The lonely side of the room was not intended for the girl you were going to be.

Your father and I know we cannot control the decisions you will make as you grow up. You are your own person. But here is the deal. If as you get older you find yourself in a mess… a mess that involves a cold metal chair… my darling you better pull up two more. The girl named Solana will not be sitting by herself. Your papa will be holding your left hand, your momma will be holding your right, and daughter, I dare someone to tell you that you aren’t good enough.

This is who you are. Really are. You are Solana. You are our sunshine.

We love you,

Your Parents

 

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The Privilege of Being Mommy

I used to take the concept of motherhood for granted. Like it was something that was owed to me. Like the moment I decided I wanted to be a mommy my husband and I would just pull the trigger and bam! – new title – “Mommy” I would be.

It didn’t work out like that. I now know that for many, it does not work out like that.

After three miscarriages I was faced with the harsh reality that motherhood was not something I would be able to control. And after three times the loss you would think that Adam and I would have turned next to a family planning method that was a little more… I don’t know… predictable.

Instead, God had us sign up to be foster parents.

It seems his timing was right. We were not even through the entire certification process and a child was placed with us. In no time at all we had a foster daughter in our home.

I had not had the chance to be mommy to our lost babies.

Was I mommy now?

I had been yearning for the moniker of mother, but the despair of miscarriage had taught me that motherhood was not something I was entitled to.

I was about to meet another mother who, for different reasons, was learning the same hard lesson.

………….

Have I told you about the first time I met Little A’s bio mom?

………….

Little A was placed in our home on a Saturday night. The caseworkers left and we didn’t speak with anyone from the department until Monday morning. On a side note, that was weird. They dropped the child off and then trusted us enough to wait 36 hours before checking back in! But I digress.

Monday morning rolled around and the case worker called. She asked how it was going. She said we needed to get A to a visit with her mother. That day. Like within the next two hours. This was a fast intro into the world of needing to be flexible and, just like with the miscarriages, having no control.

Visit with mom? No problem. In between trying to research and set up daycare for the very next day we would bring A down to the DHS office for a visit.

I presented myself and the little girl to a locked door. The buzzer clicked. I met the case worker in the hallway.

“Should I come into the room?” I asked. “Like, should I meet A’s mom? Or should I stay out of it and let you do the hand off?”

“It’s up to you,” the case worker replied.

That is not what I wanted to hear. There were actually some things I did not want control over. We had to make so many new parenting decisions I just wanted one more to be made for us.

“Well, does she want to meet me?” I inquired. I was curious about her, but scared. What would I say? How would she act? Would she be combative? Crazy? Drugged out? Hateful? What sort of villain was she?

“It might put her at ease to see who A is living with,” the case worker suggested. “Having A taken away has been traumatic for her.”

I reasoned with myself that despite my own fears, maybe if A’s mom saw that I was a fairly normal looking human being she would feel more comfortable. Not to mention, I was more than a little curious about her.

The case worker led me to the closet-sized grey box of an office space “play-room” where A’s mother was waiting. My heartbeat quickened. This was going to be so awkward! The baby was clinging to my neck like I was a life raft. I took a deep breath before I rounded the corner.

A slight adolescent girl was sitting on the edge of her seat. Wearing black jeans and a hoodie with a messy topknot, she looked like your average teenager waiting outside of the principal’s office. She was not combative. Not crazy. Not drugged out. Not hateful. She was just there waiting for people with more power than her to tell her what was next. I could see my own anxiety reflected in her eyes. This was uncharted territory for us both.

I couldn’t help but notice the baby did not reach for her. Did not even acknowledge she knew her, save for the tightened grip on my neck and hair. I held this mother’s baby close and sat down in the windowless room.

I said hello. I introduced myself. I told her what a gorgeous daughter she had. I think I told her she was pretty too. (Because THAT is important at a meeting like this.)

There is no script for this sort of thing. At least not that I know of. If there had been I would have forgotten it anyway. My thoughts were spinning a hundred miles an hour but nothing productive was coming out of them.

I asked the mother if she had any questions for me. She couldn’t think of any. I asked her what her daughter liked to eat and a few other questions I had been pondering since Saturday night.

The mother’s responses were measured. I detected only the slightest quiver in her voice. She seemed resilient beyond her years.

The baby squirmed in my lap and snuggled in closer to me. The room got quiet. Was this mother yearning to hold her child? Was she mad that I was? Was she embarrassed that there was no connection? It didn’t seem like it, but what did I know?

We looked down at the floor. More silence.

The case worker jumped in. She was new to this too but seemed to know what to do. “Kara, A’s mother is concerned about what the foster home is like. She said she is picturing a place where adults are just trying to make money and take in as many children as possible. Almost like a puppy mill.”

“Oh God no. She’s our first and only foster child.” I looked at her intently, trying to reassure her. “Not to mention,” I thought but didn’t say, “foster care would be a pretty non-lucrative way to make money.”

After a few more minutes of nobody really knowing what to do the time came for me to leave. The birth mother would get one hour to spend supervised time with her daughter. I peeled A from me. She screamed, cried and pleaded with her arms like I was handing her over to a doctor for a round of injections. I pulled the Band-Aid off quick, turned my back, and walked out the door.

I beelined it to my car. I kept my head down. Oh how I cried.

Is the maternal instinct so strong that after 36 hours with this child I couldn’t bear to hand her over? Couldn’t stomach her tears?

Was I mommy now?

She had clung to me.

Children have instincts. They know what they need and they know who is giving it to them. Just four days after having A in our care she looked up at me with her Hershey Kiss eyes and she called me momma. So many questions. That felt good, but should I “allow” it to happen? Was that “ok?”

Was I mommy now?

I sought counsel from the caseworkers.

“What should I do? What should she call us?”

They too seemed unsure about the whole thing. Here was yet another unwanted opportunity to exercise our decision making power. We didn’t know what would be best for her in the long run. Somebody, please, tell us what to do!

Adam and I reasoned…

This child was just learning to speak. She didn’t have many words. Teaching her our names felt too formal. She was one-and-a-half for God’s sake. The child needed a mother. And a father. Didn’t she?

I had just been to a talk given by Susie Krabacher, a former playboy playmate and the owner of an orphanage in Haiti. She said she didn’t want the children in the orphanage calling her mother because she didn’t want them to grow up thinking that a mother was someone who came into and out of a child’s life.

She had a good point. We didn’t want that for Little A either. But, we also didn’t want Little A to grow up without knowing the joy of having parents.

A few days later when I picked A up from daycare, older kids in her class called out, “A’s mommy is here.”

Was I supposed to sit them down and explain the whole morbid situation to them?

“Well, technically kids, even though Adam and I drop her off and pick her up, pack her lunches and give her hugs, you don’t have it quite right. It would be more appropriate if you referred to me as….”

Ha. Yeah right.

So while I still wasn’t sure if I was a mommy I decided to just run with it.

And run we did, for the life of a foster child is busy. For the next few weeks Adam or I drove Little A to and from visits with her parents. On a few occasions we stayed with the bio mom or dad through the entire thing.

I was surprised that it was never that uncomfortable with her parents. There were moments, for sure. Like the first time A called me “momma” in front of her momma. I cringed, held my breath, and didn’t know what to do.

The crisis was avoided before it began. The case-aid came to the rescue. She addressed the birth mother with something like, “since Kara and Adam are playing such a vital role in A’s life right now, and A is just learning to talk, it is appropriate that she sees them as a mommy and daddy.”

The mother nodded like she understood. “I don’t mind,” she said.

I believed her.

I wish I could say I was as mature as this young girl.

Three visits a week continued and we got into the routine of the visits happening during the workday. The case-aide would pick A up and drop her off during daycare hours. Weeks passed without Adam or I seeing A’s birth parents.

I could not help but wonder, “what did Little A call her mother?”

A few times I tried to pry. I asked our daughter how her day was. One time I asked her what she had done that day with her mommy. She looked at me confused. “My mommy!” she exclaimed, pointing to me. I attempted to suppress a satisfied grin.

On another occasion I asked A how her play time with her mother was, but this time I called her mother by name. She responded with something completely off topic, like toddlers do.

And then…

After eleven months of calling ME mommy and one week before her biological parents’ trial I asked, “What did you do today?”

“Um,” she said, “I went to the pool with my mommy!”

The smug smile I had worn in conversations past was nowhere to be found. Indeed, she had gone to the pool that day with her biological mother.

Was I still mommy now?

Little A’s statement was bitter-sweet. Two days after the mommy comment and five days before the case went to trial A’s biological mother relinquished her rights.

I was finally going to be a mommy!

Except that I already was.

And I had been for a long time.

And now, despite the relinquishment, A’s bio mommy was too.

Here is what I’ve learned through the foster to adopt process: custody is something that the court can order. The privilege of being “mommy” is not. Our small daughter knows that better than anyone.

I am beyond words excited to be the “on paper” mommy of Little A. I am also hopeful for the future of our relationship with Little A’s bio mom. We are proud of her for the progress she has made and grateful that our daughter has a courageous woman to look up to. God is good.

Whether you are a “normal” mother, a foster-mother, a step-mother, an in-law, an adopted mother, a bio mother, a yet-to-be mother, or whatever else I am missing, motherhood is not something any of us are entitled to.

I pray that not one of us takes for granted what a privilege it is to be called “mommy.”

Xo,

Kara

p.s. The pictures on this post of our family almost did not happen. They were taken just weeks after Little A came into our life and there was so much that was uncertain. I had so many doubts. Were we allowed family photos with this little girl who may not be with us very long? I watched on Facebook as friends posted snapshots of themselves with their adorable babies and children. Was I allowed this same joy?

Was I a fraud? Or, was  I mommy?

Now that we are where we are I am so glad I let my sister convince me to do this shoot!

A Foster Child Is Home

melissayoungphotography.com

melissayoungphotography.com

I just love happy endings!

I have been wanting to update everyone on the court proceedings I discussed in my last post, but it has been a week and I am still speechless. Hospitalized, “potentially due to a ‘hormonal surge'” (don’t worry, I’m fine), and speechless…

So without any extra verbiage and with an awestruck faith, it is with tremendous joy and thankfulness that we share…

Little A will be adopted into the Gilbert family within the next few months!! 

Thank you for reading my stories. There are more to come.

Thank you for your prayers for Little A. I am more convinced than ever of their effectiveness and of God’s power.

When I can articulate more clearly I will share in greater depth.

For now, just so so joyful…

xo,

KG

melissayoungphotography.com

melissayoungphotography.com

(A big thank you to my sis for the stunning photos of Little A!)

Foster Care Judgment Day

Foster to Adopt

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Have you thought much about your own Judgment Day?

I hadn’t. That is until our more recent visits to the courtroom.

Last Tuesday was a pretrial hearing for Little A’s case. We sat in the gallery of the courtroom several pews behind A’s mother. She sat at the defendant’s table all alone. Her shoulders were shrugged into herself and she looked even smaller than she is in the black and grey hooded sweatshirt she wore. The judge’s bench loomed in front of her. On the other side of the courtroom at the prosecution’s table sat a gaggle of well and colorfully dressed blonde-headed ladies – lawyers and caseworkers – all representing the best interests of Little A. It was impossible not to notice just how lonesome A’s mother was, juxtaposed to the pack of older, educated women at the competing desk. My heart was in turmoil, oscillating between demands of justice for Little A and gut-wrenching empathy for the solitary young mother before me. Her lawyer had called in over the phone – distant representation without a face or physical presence to offer guidance and support.

This was an important day in the courtroom. It was a day to determine if the case would proceed to trial on September 2.

Let me give you a little foster care process background so that you know what brought us to this point…

Biological parents have a set amount of time to work on and complete their treatment plans. In A’s case, due to her young age, the “set amount of time” is one year. If representatives for the child can agree that enough progress has been made on the treatment plan prior to the one-year mark, visitation with bio parents is ramped up and a schedule for reunification of the child with bio parent(s) is put in place. On the other hand, if representatives for the child do not agree that reunification of the child with the bio parents is in the best interest of the child, yet the biological parents still seek to regain custody, the case is brought to trial.

Bringing a child’s case to trial is not ideal. I am told it is an emotional situation for everyone involved and is to be avoided if at all possible. A’s parents and their state appointed lawyers will face off against A’s team of lawyers, caseworkers, and volunteer advocates. A day and a half of testimony will be presented. Witnesses will be called to the stand. Experts will be asked to weigh in. A’s bio parents as well as Adam and I will likely have to take the stand (um – freaking out!). Supporters for either side will fill, or not fill, the seats in the gallery.

If A’s lawyer’s “win” this case, the rights of the biological parents will be immediately terminated. A would essentially become an orphan for a temporary period of time until her adoption day. If the bio parents “win” this case, A will remain in foster care for a newly specified amount of time while the parents continue work on their treatment plans. (“Win” is an inaccurate word to use in situations like this.) From what I understand the case would then go back to trial in some months for reevaluation.

It has been suggested that the experience of a trial will be devastating for A’s parents, win or lose. They will be faced with tough questions on the stand and hard to swallow presentations to the judge of them as people and as parents.

Did I mention that I am also freaking out about taking the stand? Speaking in front of people is hard enough for me. Speaking in front of people, about another person, who is also in the room, whom I hope to have a relationship with in the future, is going to be infinitely more terrifying. Oh man, I don’t even want to think about it. And I’m trying not to – too much – as I’m still praying for one of the other options to come to fruition.

The other options are voluntary relinquishment (best case scenario), or that the parents won’t show up on trial day and the case will default to termination.

Voluntary relinquishment was one of the major points of the pretrial hearing last Tuesday. The judge wanted to hear from the parents that they still intended to go to trial. They could, after all, throw their hands in the air and surrender custody of their daughter. Voluntary relinquishment is the preferred route because trial would be avoided, state imposed termination would be avoided, and more time in flux and in temporary foster care for Little A would be avoided. The parents would also avoid having a termination on their permanent record forever, which carries with it several implications including red flags if they have future children and the inability to ever work anywhere or anyplace involving children. Relinquishment, on the other hand, carries with it no legal ramifications.

It is a choice for A’s parents that I do not envy. It’s a battle for them of head versus heart, desire versus ability, pride versus honesty, and the fight for love versus the strength to surrender in light of it. It is a lot to process and A’s parents are young and largely unsupported. We can hardly imagine being in their shoes. Yet participating in this case has personified the faith we have in the nerve-wracking fact that we too will be sitting at the defendant’s table in front of The Judge some day. I had never visualized this occasion before. Seeing A’s mother there brought the whole thing to life and got me thinking about some important questions…

Will I have an advocate at my trial to represent me, or will I have to speak on my own behalf? Will it be a somber or joyous day? Who will I call to the stand? What will my witnesses say? Who will the witnesses for the prosecution be? Is there testimony I will be ashamed of? And most importantly, how can I make restitution for my choices now?

I have not and do not always love God or others well or enough, but I believe God’s “treatment plan,” in theory, is simple. The Bible says the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is like it, to love people. Everything else [in the “treatment plan”] hangs on this. This case has reminded me to relinquish my rights on a daily basis and to continue to chip away at the treatment plan. I’d like to avoid the trial all together. How about you?

We should have some answers regarding Little A on September 3. I will keep you posted!

As always, thanks for reading and would love to hear from you.

Xo,

Kara

How Foster Parenting Fosters Faith

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melissayoungphotography.com

One of the first nights we had Little A I was singing her songs as she was falling asleep. Without much thought I started to whisper the words to Jesus Loves Me. It’s a song I’ve sang a thousand times, but the words had never hit me quite like they did that night. This 18-month-old little darling had just been pulled from all things familiar and placed into the arms of strangers. She had absolutely no control over what was happening to her. She was weak.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sang familiar words, new circumstances giving this seemingly simple song new meaning…

“Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.”

In that moment, singing those words, I was surprised by the conviction with which I believed in that last part. I didn’t yet know how my faith would be put to the test.

It is 8.5 months later and we are in the thick of this foster care process. Expectations regarding A’s future change weekly. We are left to question, interpret, and put our spin on the information given to us by “The Team”.  If we felt good about A’s prospects and her future outside our home this whole thing might be less emotional. But the circumstances are what they are and the ups and downs are taxing.

“Do you guard your heart with her?” some friends have asked.

“Guard your heart,” other well-wishers have suggested.

I know that all these friends mean well, but guarding our hearts is the last thing we want to do.  I don’t think God guards his heart in case his people walk away from Him. I don’t think the world needs guarded love like that.

The foster care journey with Little A has been faith testing in the best and worst of ways. Trusting Jesus is something we must surrender to daily. It is not easy. Now, each night, as we tuck Ana into bed we sing “He is strong” as more of a prayer than anything else. As a nightly ritual, when we are done with the song, A looks up at us, puts her hands together in baby sign language, and pleads in her little toddler voice, “More Jesus please.” We couldn’t agree more. We really have no other choice.

Do you struggle with trust like I do? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

With a grateful heart,

KG.