As a blonde headed girl in pigtails gazing wistfully out the window, my daydream was nowhere near the expected prince charming whisking me away to a glorious life of castles and fairy tales. While most girls dreamed of marrying Mr. Right and having darling babies, my longings took another road entirely.
My first recollection of having a different agenda than most my age was in third grade, when my peers were playing dress up while I was outside in the cobblestone driveway saving a bumblebee with a broken wing. The underdog. The broken one. I was his cheerleader, rooting for his success.
In my adult years, while friends longed for babies and pregnancy and the feel of a little one in their womb, I smiled at what I finally understood was not different, but a special kind of blessing from the Lord. I certainly did hope to someday find Mr. Right, and in my late thirties I met him and married him, but the fire in my heart for children had less to do with carrying one of my own and more to do with rescuing one in distress.
I am a foster parent and James 1:27 is the call of my heart, to care for the orphans. It is a call so mighty that our family table is now surrounded with four precious boys, all under the age of eight, all adopted from foster care.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.James 1:27 NIV
I am no different, no more special, no more a superhero than any other mother of children. Yet having been a foster parent for years, and an adoptive parent of so much testosterone, I’ve learned several things along the way!
Love them Tightly, Hold them Loosely
Friends, I just want to love the crazy right out of my boys. I can’t get enough of holding their hand, touching their chubby cheeks, snuggling up to them as we read. Some wonder if adoptive moms really the same bond as mothers have who have nurtured from the womb.
Let me tell you, I love these boys to the moon and beyond. Not even moon and back. Beyond, people. I would go to the ends of the earth for my boys and if someone tries to get between this mama bear and her cubs, you’ll hear my roar through distant lands!
These children, borne to other mothers, were predestined to be raised by me and loved fiercely by my family. Yet through all that extravagant love that wants to squeeze tightly and protect ferociously, I’ve had to learn to hold them loosely. Three of our boys were adopted together and it was a tumultuous court battle. We took two steps toward adoption and got kicked back 22 steps by so much red tape. Over and over. For months on end.
Through this, we learned that trusting the outcome of our children’s lives to the One who cares for the tiny sparrow (Matt 6:26) was the only way we could face the day. If He feeds that sparrow, how much more does He want to protect these boys?
Our children are on loan to us. We must hold them with an open hand, allowing the Lord to mold and shape through us, to give or take from us, to guide and bless as He sees fit. While entrusted to me, I will infuse my boys with Christ in view of the day that He takes them home or they spread their own wings to fly.
God has a mighty plan our children, yours and mine, and holding them so tightly that they can’t spread a wing or He can’t get through our grip only makes our children have to work that much harder toward the blessing God has for them.
The Past Will Not Shape the Future
I found a photo on social media of one of the boys in our care, one who is now adopted into our family. It is an odd sensation to see him as a baby, held in the arms of another woman, a woman whose eyes and ears and fingers are an exact match to the boy I now call my son. I’ve never met her, know very little about her, and can only speculate what kind of home she provided for the boy who is now my own.
As an adoptive parent of foster children, we don’t always know the backstory. We are told stark facts, many of which we later find out are not exactly true (every story has two sides, right?), and so the life that my boys lived before darkening our door is a mystery.
Yet we know one thing for sure - the past will not shape their future. Whether adopted or biological, we can take a stand and proclaim that the sins of past generations (or even our own sins) will not shape the future for our children.
I sometimes let my mind wander to the land of What If. What if they still lived in that home, where the police often visited, where screaming matches led to broken furniture, where babies were left alone in cribs for days, where drugs led to jail sentences? What would my boys be learning, seeing, and emulating?
Does your family have skeletons in its closet that you’d do anything to save your children from? We can break those cycles and brighten the futures for our children. By introducing them to Christ, we give them the opportunity to be grafted into a completely different kind of family tree.
Impressing Christ on Your Children
As a foster parent, you never know where the children in your home will be tomorrow. Sometimes they are placed with you in an emergency to bring them to safety quickly while their case can be evaluated, and a suitable family member found for them to live with. Other times, you are their home for weeks, months, in some cases years, before they are reunited with their biological parents who have worked to resolve the issues that caused the removal of their children.
For this reason, I felt such a sense of urgency to teach Christ from the moment a child walked over our threshold. We prayed together and were intentional about thanking the Lord for answered prayers, no matter how small. We sang together and every feasible moment in the car was spent listening to songs that would have them singing through the Bible and impressing the Word on their hearts.
When the challenging times would come that we needed to say goodbye to a child in our care, we wanted to be sure that we had put Deuteronomy 6:7 into practice - impressing the commandments of Christ into these children, talking about Him when we sat at home and walked along the road, when we lied down and when we rose up.
By the time all our boys were adopted, this practice was ingrained in them and already a part of normal life. Our culture is ripe with ways to raise your children, so they are healthy, successful, and well-rounded by the world’s standard.
In looking at Biblical standards, though, we know that success is not determined by the ways of the world, but the condition of the heart. Kindness to our brother. Self-control with our attitude. Joy when we don’t get our way. Sharing our toys. Hmmm, sounds like a good recipe not only for our children, but for each one of us, as well!
A Little About Lois
Lois shares about her adoption journey over at BlessedMamaBear.com. She is a published writer of intentional and practical parenting topics with a focus on fostering and adoption. Her pieces can be seen coming soon in ParentLife and Fostering Families as well as Adoptive Families and other digital and print magazines.
She is passionate about spreading the word on the miracle of adoption and encouraging others to be or support foster parents. You can join the mama bear family on facebook at blessedmamabear4 or if you have questions about fostering or adoption, have a testimony you’d like to share on her blog, or find out how to support foster families in your community, she invites you to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.