I’ve some things recently that I have to disagree with.
First, I read this post on Facebook. My eyes glazed over as I read it. First, because I understand. We said yes, too. But then it kind of rubbed me and I hurt a little inside. Perhaps because it was the same week that we said no. But also because it makes foster parents out to be saints who take in allllll the needy babies.
But I have not found that to be the case for our family, and my thoughts on this have slowly changed. Going into foster care, I wanted to give as many children as possible homes. I have a home. We have beds. We have carseats. We are licensed. Why not say yes EVERY SINGLE TIME?
The answer is easy: We would no longer be a family.
This is what Webster defines a family as:
noun: family; plural noun: families
1.a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
However, I think that we all know that a family is so much more than that. A family is food, and gathering around the table. A family is bedtime stories and wet hair on the pillow. A family is knows all the ins and outs, the strengths and weaknesses of those that you rub shoulders with on a minute-by-minute basis. A family is bound by laughter, and tears, and hugs, and sometimes absolute frustration and annoyance. A family is every emotion wrapped up in a day: joy, tears, anger, sadness, elation. A family is that heart-bursting, smile-giving, frustration-mounting. memories-keeping feeling that you get around those who are living within the walls of your home.
I have heard some argue that America’s foster care system is the equivalent of orphanages. We don’t have orphanages in America because we have the foster care system. And because we have foster homes, those are orphanages.
noun: orphanage; plural noun: orphanages
a residential institution for the care and education of orphans.
I disagree. I do not run an orphanage. I have absolutely nothing against orphanages, but they are not family. And they are not the ministry that Theo and I are currently called to. I have a home, not an orphanage.
We have made the decision to open our home to foster children. Theo and I have talked together and agreed that what we want to do for these children is give them a family when they are not able to be with theirs. It may be a weekend, it may be several months or even years, or it may be forever. But we are in the business of putting displaced (whether temporarily or permanently) children into a family.
We will treat them like they are our own. We will give them the same birthday presents and Christmas presents that we give our biological children. We will call them “sisters” and “brothers” and we will treat them as such. We will expect them to go to church with us, and to learn how to do household chores with us, as well as work with other siblings in the home.
While all this sounds great in writing, do you know what that means for us as parents? It means that sometimes we have to say no. We have to say no to some activities and ministries. We have to say no to some of the ridiculous amounts of appointments that foster children can rack up on their schedules. And yes, we have to say no to that phone call sometimes.
ITS SO HARD. But I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve been given. Saying no to another placement makes me feel so many emotions inside. It makes me feel like I failed that one child. It makes me wonder where they are today, if they are safe, if they are being loved. If they are being treated like they belong to a family.
But Theo and I…we are only two people. We are only capable of so much. We are doing the best we can with what we have been given. And right now, that is ONE placement. I think one day we will get to the place where we can take in more than one placement. But at this point in our lives and in our ministry, we feel that taking in more than one placement will result in us feeling like we run an orphanage instead of managing a family.
Perhaps what I am saying here is just ramblings. But I need to get this heavy matter off my heart. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, too. I think that this matter can relate to so many other jobs/ministries, too. Pastoring, Teaching, Volunteering, Ministering…there comes a time when the most effective thing you can do for your ministry is to say no.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!