Thursday, May 7, 2015

Multifaceted Mother's Day

For over two decades now, Mother's day has been a difficult day for me.  As a child losing my mom was such a great grief for a small child to bear.  Each year as I've grown the weight of that grief has not really ever gone away, but has sunk deeper, it is more of a deep aching scar now than an open wound.  As I was learning to deal with that grief, I experienced the joy of motherhood, and the celebration of Mother's day as a joyous occasion for the first time in a long time.

I've grown five beautifully wonderful babies in my body.  Three are building massive structures with legos as I type, and two are in Heaven.  The grief of being a bereaved mother at Mother's day is inexplicably difficult to is a crushing grief and I once again found myself with conflicted feelings on that May Sunday each year.

Since then, our home has become a refuge for foster kids, we've had several children come for a time and move on and we've adopted two sweet babies, they have similar yet strikingly different stories that one day will be theirs to tell.  We also have a sweet foster daughter who has been with us almost a full year now.

As I sit here and reflect on Mother's Day, I give thanks for the first mothers of each of those sweet babies.  I can only imagine their heartache on a day set aside for mothers, knowing that handpicked bouquet of dandelions is being handed to another woman.  To the first mothers of my babies, there is no way to express my gratitude.  Your sacrifice cannot be expressed in words and I am heartbroken and honored to love your child, who is also my child.

If Mother's day is a day to celebrate moms and the sacrifice they make for their children, then you, birth moms should be at the top of the list.  You ARE moms, you deserve that fistful of dandelions.  I am sure your heart aches, but I want you to know that I see you and I celebrate you, your stories may all be as different as the children you birthed, but God grew a baby in your womb, He chose you, if only for a time and that matters.  You matter to your children and you matter to me.

As my children grow, I pray our foster daughter, though we love her dearly is able to reunite with the family who is working to get her back.  I also pray for my sweet Lily and Jacob as they grow and learn their stories, I want them to know they have ALWAYS been wanted by so many people, they've always been loved and that they'll NEVER be alone.  Their first moms are beautiful, wonderful women that I love dearly.  God chose them for our family too.   I pray that we can show His love and grace as we forge ahead with all He has entrusted to us.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13 4-7

I want the first moms of my kids to know that we love them, without judgement, without strings.  We will always be honest with our kids and we will navigate this as best we know how, keeping the best interests of EVERYONE at heart.  Life is so hard and sometimes the obstacles before us seem so great.  But for these special women in my life, I just want you to know, I love you, I see you, and I see your sorrow and I know that it is real.  I celebrate you, I celebrate your sacrifice and I celebrate the incredible privilege of getting to raise these little people.

Happy Mother's Day to ALL mothers, those who are raising kids, those who are yearning for kids, those who have given up kids, those who are mourning kids.  I don't know your situation, I don't personally know your pain, but I know that God is good, I know he brings beauty from ashes.  I know that He keeps his promises and that His plans are good even when we don't understand them.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  Luke 1:45

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Foster Care Awareness

I've said it before but fostering is one of the hardest things ever.  It is definitely a calling.  One of the things people ask us all the time is "are you keeping her?".  The thing is we don't know.  We do this FOR the kids, not for us, not because we're starting a children collection.  We personally feel, our calling is to just love these kids AND their parents and help them be together if that is AT ALL a possibility.  We have five forever kids and if that is all we get to have on earth forever, we are ok with that.

Our current foster daughter has been with us almost a year now...nearly her entire life.  We love her like our own and we will grieve if/when she leaves.  We will also rejoice because it is our hope that her biological parents will get things figured out so that they get to parent her.  One of the things I want people to realize is that these parents, the ones who lose their children to the system, they aren't bad people.  They're broken people.  They have issues and baggage that they need to deal with.  Sometimes they're able to work through things and get their children back and sometimes they can't.  Generally speaking, the LOVE their kids, they're just fighting demons, addiction, mental health, and processing their own abuse.

The cycle CAN be broken, and that is what we pray for when each child comes into our home.  We don't root against their parents, we hope to come alongside them, to support them, to love them, to pray for is hard, it is frustrating and sometimes I DO get angry when the answers seem so simple, yet the issues continue, but if you come into foster care to adopt and aren't willing to support reunification, you might be on the wrong path.

Fostering and adoption are two different things, some people are specifically called to adopt and we have walked that road.  We are grateful and heartbroken that it was even necessary it is such a conflicting feeling.  If you are called to adopt, you should follow that calling, but if a person gets into fostering, solely to adopt, you're bound to be disappointed.  Biological parents are given EVERY opportunity and it is my belief that if a foster parent cannot attempt to support reunification, they're doing everyone a disservice.  SOMEtimes, it goes on a long time and it is apparent that reunification just cannot and should not happen, but IF it can, if a child can be safe in their biological home, that is where they belong,

Foster parents have to put the child's feelings far above their own, they have to be willing to risk their own hearts for the sake of the child and the biological family.  Parents all parent differently and while we don't all agree on parenting decisions, if a child can be safe, nurtured and loved in their original home, that is where they should be.

I guess I say this all to say that I feel like society, Christians especially, are sure to bring awareness to adoption and what a noble calling that is, my position is that while sometimes adoption is necessary, family preservation should be the crux of the orphan crisis.  We should be His hands and feet, even and especially to the drug addicted mentally ill birth parent.  We need to truly do ALL in our power to try and help families stay together adoption is not a fairy tale, it is necessary sometimes, but it is heartbreaking always, it has lasting effects, my prayer is that the Church is able to do more to step in and help families before their children are taken and come alongside families and help them heal and be the parents they need to be.  My hope is that one day there will be no orphan crisis be cause  we have become the village and we are coming alongside those who are struggling to help children be safe and loved before fostering or adoption are even needed.  These kids are our greatest resource, they are our future and they deserve better.

I shall now step off my soapbox and stop rambling.