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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Opening Our Hearts

Erik and I have discussed throughout our relationship that we both felt that ministering to children outside of our own family was important to us.  We've discussed different ways we would accomplish this.  Youth ministry within our churches was one way, me providing childcare in our home was another.  A far off "one day" option was Foster Care.  Far off as in our children would be much older and we'd have lived through most of the elementary school years to have considerable experience under our belts.  Having once worked in a system with Foster families and foster children, I am aware of the challenges of foster care and have felt that to be fair to our children, waiting until they didn't need us so much would be ideal.

A dear friend of ours (referenced in this story as E) works for a foster/adoption care agency and we've talked with her over and over how "one day" we'd be interested in welcoming Foster children into our home, etc.   She tells us stories of how foster families are needed, never pressuring us, but saying, "You guys would be a great Foster Family" and then leaving us to pray about it.  Through her encouragement and our own prayer, we started to come around to the idea of starting the process a little earlier than we thought and tossed around the idea of doing foster care for children under 2 or on a respite type basis which would be very short term.  

Through a series of "coincidences" it became very clear to us that God was telling us it was time to start the Foster Care process.  It mid-June and Erik was home waiting for the veteranarian to arrive to look over our goats for the Big Butler Fair.  It was just after noon and he came into the house asking to borrow my cell phone because he could not find his.  He was headed back out to the barn to call his phone because he thought he dropped it in the manure.  While he was walking back to the barn, he tried calling our friend, N, whose son boards his goat with us and who was going to show his goat too.  The Vet was going to check that goat as well, and we needed to have her registered name on the Vet papers.  When our friend N didn't answer his phone, Erik then used my phone to call his wife, E, who at the time was at work at her agency in a meeting where they were discussing the fact that they had had a call from another agency looking for a foster home for an infant.  Erin looked at her phone, saw that I (Erik) was calling her and a light bulb went off.  Shortly after that, she called me and said that they were looking for people to foster an infant and since we thought we might like to care for infants she wanted us to know.  Erik and I talked about it, prayed about it and we both came to the conclusion that God was telling us to get the process started.  We both knew that we wouldn't necessarily be blessed with a child right away, but if nothing else, we could get certified and then take it from there.

So we did.  A few days later, we went to the agency, signed the papers,  and over the coming days had our criminal backgrounds checked, had our home checked out and a water test completed.  The water test failed.  Twice.  We're waiting for the results of the third test.

Then last week, we got a call from one of our coordinators who said that another agency was looking to place a baby girl.  They didn't have many details but the placement would occur Monday and we were to assume the placement would be for three months, but to be aware that all details were dependent on the hearing on Monday. If we were interested, we should come to the hearing on Monday.  In the meantime, we were cautioned that over the weekend, things could vastly change and nothing was definite.  I spent the weekend in anticipation yet preparing for the worst.  Finally, Sunday after we dropped Maggie off at Pymatuning to camp with Mimi and her cousin, I asked Erik to stop at Walmart to buy size 1 diapers.  Just in case.  And I allowed myself to get a little excited about the potential of a new baby in the house.  

The next day, I continued to allow myself to feel more excited and I began some preparations.  I dug out the bassinet from the attic and searched through my bin of keepsake clothes and found lots of adorable newborn outfits for a little girl.  I didn't even realize I had saved so much for Maggie!  That afternoon, after washing blankets and clothes and bedding, Erik and I went to the hearing and due to extenuating circumstances, had to leave before we knew the fate of the baby!  Talk about torture!  We ended up going home and about an hour later, our coordinator called to let us know that we would have the baby for just five days instead of the three months that we had anticipated.    It was a little discouraging, but I quickly realized that this was a blessing from God as we learned that there was a little more involved in the process than we anticipated.  

So here we are, four days later, basking in the pink presence of a baby girl in our house again.  

Ten little fingers.

Ten little toes.

Everyone has fallen in love with her.

It's going to be quite an adventure, this journey of the heart we are embarking on.  

There are going to be lots of highs and lots of lows.  We're trusting that God will guard our hearts and protect us from heart ache as we tend to these little lambs and then send them on their way.  The future is unknown for us and for them.  There are so many things we have double and triple and quadruple thought about in terms of exposing our family in this way.  The bottom line is that despite the probable (definite) heart ache, we believe it is our purpose to provide love and care for children by opening our home and our hearts.  

This was a light week for me in general because the children were taking turns camping with Mimi, so I didn't have a full plate of children to tend to, so tending to an infant was much easier.  Also, prior to Monday, were told baby would have visitation with her bio parents once a week, but it turns out it was three times a week, so that would have been difficult (but manageable) to figure out.  Additionally, we knew we had a week of travel/vacation planned and coordinating how to work that out with the visitation schedule was going to prove very difficult.  I think also, God is blessing us with just a little taste of what this is going to be like for us.  Because of the camping trip, none of the children but Whit had much more than 36 hours with baby in the house.  That gave them just enough time to love on her, but not too much time to become too attached.  Walker and Will were able to kiss her goodbye and head out for their camping trip - a welcome distraction, especially for Willie who was absolutely wonderful with baby girl.  Walker enjoyed her too, but was kind of over the whole crying thing.  Willie, however, was a champ, telling me that he would take care of her and he never ever would mind if she cried.  

Maggie got to meet her yesterday and hasn't left her side.  More blessings came this week as a school friend called to plan a play date with Maggie so she has something fun to look forward to after saying goodbye.  And even I won't have too much time to wallow in goodbye as I pack up the few baby things and get our family packed for a trip to Hershey with my mom and sister and then for a separate end of the week trip to NY and Lake Chautauqua.  

It's a scary adventure we're on.  But one I know will be well worth the journey.   

1 comment:

  1. This is such a blessing for the foster children you'll have and for your family!