4/15/2007

Somebody else's kids

Faith is a strange thing.We say we have it, and that we believe in things we've never seen. But saying it doesn't make it so, and there are things we'll never see until we truly have faith.

Last year my wife and I felt a call to become foster parents. I'd never felt something like that before, and if someone had told me it would happen, I'd have said they were crazy. I didn't see myself as a foster parent, ever. But we went to the training classes for nine weeks, and I found myself convinced that this was something I wanted to do - something we were equipped to do.

And when we started, last summer, I believed maybe it was God's plan for us to take children in and give them love while their families got straightened out or until an appropriate adoptive home could be found. After all, we've got four kids of our own, and that's a pretty big family by most people's standards. Since then, we've had the blessing of parenting a toddler for two months, a newborn for the last six, and recently a second infant.

You expect it to be a strange thing, welcoming these children into your home. He doesn't look like you, or have any natural claim on you. You just aren't going to experience that out-of-the-blue blown away falling-in-love sensation that you had the first time you gently cradled your firstborn in your arms.

At first, it is strange. He cries to be comforted because he's lonely or hungry or frightened or confused about this strange place you've brought him to. He resents you a little for not being his parent, while you admit that you resent his parents a little for not being there for their child. But you feed him, bathe him, and hold him because the people who should be doing it aren't there. You're something more than the babysitter, but something less than his parent.

Maybe you weren't blown away when you first held him, even if he was a newborn. So you were right not to expect it. But it is also strange in a way you did not expect, and can scarcely explain.

At some point you started telling him "I love you" without believing it, because he's a child and entitled to be loved. Before you know it, you find yourself in the emergency room at midnight and the doctor is informing you that he needs to be admitted for a respiratory infection. You understand that this means you're going to have to miss at least one day of work, and that you probably won't see much of your wife in the next day or two. But you realize that he needs you there with him, and somehow you know - know - that that's where you want to be.

Somewhere along the way, he stopped being just somebody else's kid and you started thinking of him (or her, or them) as yours. And you don't know the full scope of what God had in mind when he put them in your life, but the part he had revealed to you has already happened: they've had a warm, loving family for the months they've spent with us. And it's a blessing to know that you've been a part of giving them that love. But there's a second blessing you didn't expect: you know that you have been changed for the better. And you do know that it might not last, but you're so thankful and so awed that He has made use of you this way.

c.a. Marks said...

Awww GearDaddy, you've softened me heart a little today with this story. Thank you! And God Bless you for what you are doing!!!!

GearDaddy said...

Thanks, Carol! He certainly has.