If you only knew (what I wish I could tell myself a year ago)
One full year has passed since we became a licensed foster home. This year has been the most uncomfortable time of growth I have ever experienced. But it has been one of holy growth. I have never felt closer to the Lord than I have through the last twelve months.
This past year has brought approximately sixteen children across our path. We have not been able to say yes to every one of them, but we were able to say yes and open our home to ten of them. TEN! In one year! If you would have told me a year ago that we would take in ten separate children I would have laughed, cried, shook my head in fear, and probably ran away. No way!
I have learned so much these past twelve months. I know terms for legal jargon, I have proven I am a very skilled private investigator – when I need to be, and I have learned more about drugs and opioid addiction than I ever thought imaginable. It isn’t uncommon for the word’s cocaine, fentanyl, and heroine to be thrown into everyday conversation around here. The drug problem in South Florida really is a devastating situation for the foster care system. I believe if I remember correctly eight of the ten cases we walked through this past year were drug related. It has proven to expose my naïvety to the world around me.
In the past year we have been prepped for reunification just to have it fall through. We have been told to be ready to adopt only to have family fight tirelessly to get approved. We have grieved children leaving and we have celebrated them getting to go with family. We have dried tears and worked to fight through fears. We have held withdrawing babies and we have reassured toddlers that their mommy loves them. We have emailed pictures and videos to keep parents feeling attached. We have sent updates to grandparents and have been able to visit once reunified. We have held family members and let them cry on our shoulders because this process is so dang heart wrenching. We have been excited, overwhelmed, devastated, gut punched, offended, and most importantly, uncomfortable.
That has been the biggest adjustment for all of us this past year. Some have had a harder time adjusting to being uncomfortable than others in this house (and by some I am exclusively referring to myself). I have never experienced such discomfort being in my own home as I have this last year. I’ve felt physically sick many times for how scared I was being this uncomfortable. Chaos is the only way I can think to describe it. We literally invited the chaos of abuse, neglect, drugs, abandonment into our home and it was uncomfortable. It was debilitating at times. (And it still is!)
After roughly six kids in, I realized I needed to be more intentional with myself. I needed to give myself a little extra grace the first week after we got a new placement. The first few days always proved to be the most chaotic. My phone would ring off the hook, appointments needed to be made, visits scheduled, meetings attended, and more names than I could keep straight. The rule follower in me was scared to death to mess something up. I wrote everything down frantically just trying to keep up. I asked so many questions it became a joke with each new case worker that “I am a question asker so be ready!”. Once I finally accepted that this is the way I processed getting a new placement, it got easier. I didn’t feel as stressed out. I started knowing what to expect and rolling with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still ask way too many questions. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year is that if you don’t ask, they won’t tell you. So, ask away!
The biggest take away for me this past year came just a few weeks ago. I was sitting quietly drinking my morning coffee and reading my bible when God clearly spoke to my heart, “do you not see that you are trying to find your source of ‘comfort’ and 'safety' in your home and not in me?” He has allowed so much chaos to come into our lives that I have tried to control it all as it was thrown at me instead of leaning fully into Him to be my source of comfort in the chaos. The Lord NEVER said serving Him would be comfortable. He never said we wouldn’t suffer. But He made it clear that He will never forsake us. He will never leave. And He has shown me that at least ten times this year.
I am excited to see how God is going to continue to use our little family this upcoming year. I am grateful the Lord has asked us to walk in this ministry and allow our children a front row seat to see what it means to serve God where He asks. I am humbled by the experiences we have walked through this past year. There have been a lot of uncomfortable moments and conversations, but I believe whole heartedly the Lord never wastes anything. I am leaning into THAT comfort.
So with all that being said, here we are Lord, we are ready for year two!