Our youngest was 12, we had moved to the more independent phase of parenting. I was feeling quite satisfied with our family size and was well beyond childbearing years anyway. But somehow we began having little people in our house for these periods of respite. Giving foster families a little break while their kids were loved and cared for elsewhere. I enjoyed it. I knew it was a huge help for them and that made me happy to offer it. I also enjoyed giving them back and returning the house to order and quiet.
For reasons of privacy I will not be able to give the details here but the next few months something pretty incredible happened. We took a little 5 month old for an extended time of respite. After three weeks I admit we were in love but his grandfather had surfaced and took him. It was a tearful but expected good bye. I wondered if we would ever see him again. It’s an interesting thing with fostering. Heartbreaking really. These little ones come into your life, your heart opens up, and then gets ripped apart as you let them go again. But I once heard it said…”We can’t let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter us; we must let the fear of a child never knowing love drive us. The call in foster care is not to get a child for your family; it’s to give your family for a child.” This truth has really stuck with me. After his grampa came and got him I remember being sad but knowing we needed to move on. I said to my family, “that was really neat how it had worked out to take him those last three weeks of summer. There is no way I could have done it any other time.”
The next week we got a call. This little boy had come back into foster care. Could we take this placement? It was a decision that needed to be made in a timely manner. My husband and I prayed together and then he needed to go to work. I called our friend Domingo Garcia. I conferenced John into the conversation, knowing he would need to hear whatever was being said. The Garcias have fostered 32 kids and adopted 16. I knew Domingo would have some insights. His first question was, “what is keeping you from doing this?” I was aware that most of my answers were selfish. But I also had two kids in particular that I felt should weigh in. My son, Joshua, was a senior in high school. During the three weeks we had kept this baby we set up a crib in his room. I knew if we said yes the typical placement could be anywhere from a minimum of 6 months to 18 months. How could I ask him to devote his last year to having him in his room? As we were having this conversation, Josh walked by. Aware of what was going on, he looked at me and whispered, “Mom whatever you do, don’t say no on my account.” Don’t say no on my account!? I still can’t say that statement without choking up. But when I heard him say that something opened up in me. What 17 year old says that? There went my first excuse.
I also felt like my daughter, Makena, 12, deserved a lot of my attention. She was my “baby” and quite liked that role. I was concerned she would be resentful. Domingo asked me if I had read Francis Chan’s book, “You and me Forever”. I said I actually have it right here. He brought me to a page and asked me to read it. “Sometimes people are paralyzed by fear of failure. They are so afraid that they might do the wrong thing that they do nothing. We need to learn to ERR ON THE SIDE OF ACTION, because we tend to default to negligence. So many won’t do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action unless you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait?” By the power of God’s Holy Spirit this hit both John and I. John, listening on the other end, said, “I had recently read this and the words, err on the side of action, had struck me as well”. I think we both knew right then the answer but we thanked Domingo and made a decision that would change our life. Our home would once again have bottles and cribs and a baby learning to crawl and walk. What would the next few months look like?