Sunday, May 8, 2016

The story of Max. When Fostering makes you feel like a Bad Christian.

The call came during my homeschool co-op. Disrupted placement. *Max was being transitioned again. The family that had been planning on adopting could not.  Could we take him again?  Tonight? And the weight was instantly around my neck again.  That familiar burden for this little boy. My husband and I talked, and he pointed out again, that we aren't foster parents because it feels magical and the timing is perfect.  So I told the social worker that we could take him several days later; that Saturday.

This little boy, Max, we'd had before.  Over a year ago, he had come to us as a 4 year old.  On paper, he fit into our family well. His age and gender worked. He was a sweet boy with a sad past.  I wanted to want to adopt him.  What a great thing that would be. What a picture of redemption.  People would think we were doing the Lord's work.  For months I struggled and pondered and dreamed and tried. Daily, I would waver. One day I'd think, "Sure, he could totally be my son, he's so cute and needy." The next day I'd wonder how many more days we would have to have him. Finally my husband told me to let the idea of adopting Max go.  Shann wasn't bonding with him at all, and that's a cleaned up version of reality.  Shann struggled to like him.  And my daughter was irritated most of the time with him.  We had well-meaning family members us ask whether we really had to love him to permanently make him a part of our family.  We had friends ask how we could possibly let him go back into the system.  Being a people-pleaser by nature, what other people thought of the situation killed me.  I talked to a long-time foster mom who told me, 'Sarah, every foster child who comes through your door isn't necessarily your son or daughter.' So we realized that it wouldn't be kind to Max for us to adopt him out of pity, and we asked social services to find another placement for him.

Fast forward more than a year.  A year in which I told friends who asked about him that he was in the process of being adopted by a great family.  I really thought this was the case. Then that call. We would be keeping him for a couple of months until he transitioned to a family who had already adopted his biological brother.  Except. This family is a single mom with an adult transgender son. That weight on my heart. I cried out to God. How could this be God's plan?  Again I scrutinized our family dynamics. Why couldn't this work for us? The answer isn't a pretty one.  But there just wasn't any chemistry.  It seemed when we had Max with us that everyone was on edge.  I couldn't do that to my family.  Its odd, being able to try out having a son for awhile. Being able to choose a child doesn't feel right.  Many days I wouldn't choose to keep my biological kids!  Kids are not always pleasant to be around!  But because I'm not put in the position to decide with my own kids, it isn't an issue.  This whole mess of fostering is broken and weird.  Having to be foster parents, kids in the foster system. It is all because of brokenness.  And it doesn't look neat and tidy.

Max is doing well with his adoptive family.  We care about him deeply, and God has taught me to pray in a new way through his story.  I'm claiming blessing and healing for he and his family members. God has also taught me to care less about what other people think is right for our family.  Only my husband and I can make those decisions with the help of the Holy Spirit and the wise advice of trusted people who have been there.  So when our pastor talks about the service and calling of fostering, I still sometimes feel a twinge of guilt or regret that this one didn't work out they way I would have written the ending. But I know that God can take our weak offering of service and turn it into something beautiful.  So I will continue to pray for Max. And I cannot wait to see what God does with his life.

*name changed.




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