Before we entered into the world of foster care we went into the process with the mindset that if a child were to enter our home, we would NEVER give up on them. We would never waive a white flag in surrender because things got too hard. We spent time in prayer before saying yes to each placement. And only gave a yes when we felt the peace to do so. Through our first foster care placement we learned how to care for our newborn daughter while balancing court dates, visits and a rambunctious toddler. It was hard. It was ugly. And we were just surviving. We fought for each day because we knew this placement was a yes. Months turned to years and that yes turned into another yes as we finalized our sons adoption. Our second placement arrived in the form of a deeply unattached 8 month old baby. The frantic cries were enough to make anyone panic. This placement was suppose to be a few days and a few days turned into a few weeks. With a toddler, preschooler and an extremely needy baby in tow it sure wasn’t pretty. But we survived. We woke up each day determined to love deeper and harder than we did the day before. After our second placement we received many phone calls for placements. None of which we felt a peace about saying yes to.
We waited several months. Our phone rang intermittently with needed placements, however, none of them seemed to be a yes. Weeks later, on a Sunday evening we received a phone call that we felt needed to be a yes. We prayed over our decision and we felt the utmost peace about saying yes. We weren’t prepared for the weeks that were to come. We weren’t prepared for what would happen when woke up and fought to love harder, love deeper and love more patiently only to find that the journey would continue to escalate. We felt that many details of this placement had been hidden in the dark. We watched our own children regress in behaviors as their hearts struggled to understand this foster care journey. But, we kept on. We took it day by day determined not to give up. Not to waive our white flag. After three weeks into our placement we knew that the waters were rising more quickly than we could swim. We were drowning. Personalities and behaviors amongst the kiddos in our home (6 months, 3 years, 3 years and 4 years old) we’re becoming unhealthy. I felt that I spent all of my time and energy making sure they didn’t hurt each other out of frustration and anger. I spent all of my time refereeing and very little of my time encouraging, teaching and affirming. And, as I’ve mentioned before, you cannot successfully raise children with trauma without affirmation, connection and encouragement. We had help, we hired extra help, we had meals delivered to us weekly from sweet friends and we tried a variety of tactics to meet each child’s need. We continued to fight until we couldn’t anymore.
I sat on the couch in our living room and I wept. Why would Jesus call us to this journey? Why would he give us insurmountable peace in saying yes to this placement only for it to end in waiving a white flag? Why? The enemy shouted such strong lies to me in that moment of weakness- I wept as I felt that we had failed. I wept as realized that we could no longer be a yes. The guilt was more than I could bear. I had failed these kids. I had given up on them. I had welcomed them into our home only to send them away.
We prayed and asked for clarity. We knew our yes could no longer stand. We sent a lengthy email advocating to the state on the behalf of these kiddos and notifying them of our 10 day notice. I ranted about how unhappy we were that details of their story were left our that would have made an impact in our placement consideration. How justice wasn’t being done in the lives of these littles. My heart sank as I hit the send button. I shamefully carried that white flag above my head. All of my fight was gone and all we could do was kneel before Jesus. I felt full of guilt and failure.
I’m thankful I serve a God who takes that white flag. He takes it and says, this isn’t a sign of failure. He takes my shameful, guilt ridden white flag of failure and says, “Let go of the struggle for a moment and rest in me. Let go of the struggle and trust that you have obediently followed me. You have obediently been faithful to when and where I’ve called you to serve. My Holy Spirit whispered that these children of mine were a yes for a reason. Take hold for I’ve already won this war and I’m writing a story far more beautiful for these kids than you can imagine.”
Jesus really is the author and perfecter. We were notified by the state that the children would be moving together within a week. My heart was in shambles. I worried about what the rest of their journey would look like. Would their next foster home know what time to put them to bed? Would they know that baby boy scratches his head when he’s tired. Or that baby girl has such a deep need for love and affirmation? Would they treat them kindly? Would they be loved unconditionally?
It turns out that Jesus loves these babies more than I ever could. Through each phase of our foster care journey we have been supported so incredibly well. My sweet friend and small group leader would come to our house daily to help with kids, clean, cook…she would serve us in whatever way we needed for that that day. She and her husband also walked steadfast by our side and celebrated with us in great victory as we finalized our son’s adoption. In fact, Jesus moved in their hearts the desire to also become foster parents by using our sons foster care and adoption journey. They obediently listened to that call and finished their home study and foster care classes a few months ago. Though their license wasn’t expected to arrive until mid July unbeknownst to us, it arrived on the same Friday that we gave our 10 day notice.
My friend arrived to my house and said, “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
I could tell from the serious tone in her voice it was a pressing matter. As we stepped out on my front porch steps she said,
“So, the Department of Children services call us and asked if we would be willing to care for ____ &_____. But, we want to make sure we have your blessing on that before we commit to saying yes. Will your heart be okay with that? Will you still stand in our corner and help us as we care for them?”
Tears streamed down my face as my heart welled up with joy from the depths of my soul. It was better than anything ending I could have planned or imagined.
The Department of Children Services called THEM to continue the foster care journey of these kiddos. Talk about the church raising up and caring for these kiddos! The best part? Because my sweet friend and her husband so faithfully served us throughout our journey with these kids, the kids already know them! They already love them and they’re already familiar with their new home. Our hearts take so much joy in knowing that we will get to continue doing life with these kids. That we will get to provide respite care for them. That we will get to continue watching the Lord be so faithful to them.
So now we get to proudly waive that white flag. We get to surrender and hand these babies over to Jesus. We get to understand why walking in obedience was so important. Though our yes became a confusing no in our eyes, Jesus whispered, “Continue to be faithful, for I’m not finished yet.” So we rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. We praise him for the lives of these children and how His village is rising up to meet their needs. What a breathtaking picture of the gospel.