Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The year God asked us to do something we said we'd never do.

I haven't blogged in so long. I'm not even sure I remember how to do it. But, God is rearranging our year and it's time we share about it.

In the very early days of dating, we had a vision for our lives. One part of this vision included international adoption. We had multiple discussions about it, and determined that yes indeed, this was our plan. Of course we had a passion for orphans, but this desire reached deeper than rescuing someone. We felt that this was just a part of God's plan to grow our family. To those outside of the adoption arena, it really isn't any different. Maybe just a slight different way of explaining it. Either you know someone out there needs you, or you know that your child is out there and just needs to be brought home. I'd say for the first few years of our marriage, we talked about adoption with the emphasis on filling a need. Within the past 2 years, God has impressed on us that "our" child is out there, and needs to be brought home. Emotionally, those are two very different callings. One says "be ready to pursue this whenever the time is right". The other says "we need to find a way to bring our child home". Through all of this, one big thing we agreed on during years and years of discussions was that we were NOT interested in the foster system. "You never know what you're getting!" "I don't want the county in my home, telling me what I can and cannot do!" "I won't live my life scared to death that I'll run into someone's biological mother in Target!" These things were all said. By me. And so we did what any normal married couple would do. We started looking at international agencies. We started to choose a country. We looked at time frames, and requirements. We had lengthy talks with the kids about what to expect. We decided this would be the year we would take the first step in pursuing this calling. Approximately a week before Christmas, 2013, I was driving alone in the car. I was heading to Target to pick up a few last minute gifts and I had a very strong feeling that I needed to turn off the radio and drive in silence. And so I did. What happened next was surreal and out of this world and so overwhelmingly straight from God that I'm not even sure I know how to explain it. But within a 20 second period of time, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we were supposed to be foster parents. I was shocked, and couldn't think straight, and kept saying "what!? Are You sure God? That was one of those things we swore we'd never do!" The next hour that I spent walking through Target is a blur. I do remember praying for Seth. I prayed that God would prepare his heart to hear what I needed to tell him when I got home. I was scared that he would freak out, or think I was weird to admit I had a supernatural experience while driving to the store, or say that he wasn't willing to be a part of the foster system. When we did talk about it later that night, his only response was "well okay then! let's do it!" :) I think when you first agree on something, you enter a honeymoon phase of that new idea. Everything was rosey and sunshiney and seemed so perfect. We could grow our family without forking out tens of thousands of dollars! Hurray! And we didn't have to travel! (I HATE traveling and it scares me out of my mind) It seemed like we were definitely getting off easy, that's for sure. We certainly didn't tell any family members, for fear that they would try to talk us out of it. Actually I think we were so fearful of judgment from just about everyone that we kept it quiet for a few months. I started doing some research, figured out who I needed to talk to, and what the process would be like. We sort of hung out in the research phase until March, and that's when we started contacting our county. It has moved VERY quickly from there. We spent April writing our autobiographies, having physicals done, and filling out a massive stack of paperwork. We have attended three lengthy classes, and have completed our home study. We've made decisions on what age groups we're open to, and the amount of disabilities we are okay with taking care of on a daily basis. Our eyes have been opened VERY widely to what is really going on in our very own county. It's sickening and heart breaking and wrong. We live in a state that is ALL for reunification. From a biological mom's point of view, that's wonderful! From a foster mom's point of view, you are really just preparing yourself for an emotional roller coaster. When the county asks you to take a child, they are asking that you love that child like it's your very own. It's 24/7, physical and emotional and psychological care. In the state of PA, you can have a foster child for as a long as TWO YEARS and then the judge can still rule to reunite that child with a biological family member. Two years of bonding and care and adjusting to your new family is a long time.  And then you let that child go back to live a normal life with their own family again. That is tough. We've had many "I can't do this" moments. We are scared out of our minds. I feel like God has commanded us to jump off a cliff. I keep screaming "But God!?! Do you have any idea how risky and dangerous this is!? What, are You CRAZY!?!" And yet He keeps reminding us that we can't see the bigger picture. We don't know how this will work out, and we're not supposed to. I don't want to admit it, but in our American Christian culture, we are either viewed as saints, or idiots. "Oh that's wonderful! You guys are so selfless. How incredible this is that you are willing to do this!" Or on the contrary: "really? aren't you afraid they are going to pick up a kitchen knife and murder you while you sleep? Why would you want to mess up your perfectly organized little family?" :) Early on in this journey, we received a note in the mail from a somewhat new friend. The note said "we want you to know we are covering you in prayer during this whole process. We are your prayer partners through this." I broke down and cried. No advice, no feedback, no unearned praise, and no judgment. Just genuine support through prayer. That means the world. If you think we are happily skipping through this journey, anxious to hold our newest little bundle of joy, you are wrong. We are terrified. We know this is risky, and probably dangerous. We know there will be furious biological parents involved, and a million case workers and attorneys and judges. There will be many, many tears. But at the end of the day, I come back to this: if the roles were reversed, I would want someone to do it for my kids. And so, we are nearing the end of the process. By the end of the month, we should be legally licensed to accept foster children. We have absolutely NO idea what we are getting, so there is absolutely NO way for us to prepare. Do we buy extra bunk beds, or extra cribs? Stock up on diapers, or underwear? Will we get someone in June? July? August? December? They told us sometimes the kids are walking through your door while the ink of your signature is still wet. Other times you could be licensed for 4 months before you ever receive a phone call. This whole "willing to wait" and "trying to get ready" thing is for the birds. The whole foster system is so broken, and the caseworkers are the first to admit it. But God has asked us to open our home, and our hearts, and be willing to love. And so I sit here, wanting to move around furniture and paint and add extra shelves in the closets, because emotionally I am grasping for a way to prepare. Mentally, I know there is no way to prepare for what is about to come. It's like walking blindfolded. But sometimes that's what God asks. The other day Caden yelled from his bedroom, "Mom! Can we make sure the foster kid is old enough to help clean up our room???" LOL Sometimes all you need is some comic relief. :)