(written by my wife, Elizabeth)
Tomorrow two of our foster sons will leave us to return home to their Mom. It has been five months since they came to live here and they have changed our lives forever. All of them do. When a child comes into our home, we readily accept them and embrace them into our family – into our rules, practices, traditions & memories. We would not have it any other way. But when a day like tomorrow happens, it really stinks because it means we’re giving back one of our own.
Since we found out about the surety of the boy’s departure from our home last Friday, I have been stuck in negativity and cynicism. “Why did this happen so quickly? Is this really the best thing for them? Have we taught them enough for them to be ok even if things aren’t ok there? What’s the likelihood of their returning to foster care?” On and on I could go. And like any well-meaning person, pride has gotten it’s grip tightly on me, telling me that our home and the way we raise our family is the only right way. I want to be in control of their outcome and I want proof that what we’ve done is worth it for them.
And then tonight happened. We debated on what we should do with the Christmas gifts we had bought them that have been wrapped under the tree. It was decided that we would let them open them tonight instead of taking them wrapped to their Mom’s. The joy on their faces, opening those gifts picked just for them, was a celebration. As I watched them, a hundred memories came back to me of the last five months pushing away the cynicism, causing me to celebrate.
- A 5-year old who once would bite his nails from anxiousness no longer does so and lived up to my challenge to have nasty fingernails for me to clip 🙂
- A 3 yr old who could not sit still and process stories now sits for 2-3 books paying attention to the plot
- Loud singing of “I love you, Lord” each night along with their bodies knelt in prayer together
- Boys who will now open their mouths to speak instead of mumbling everything and grunting when displeased
- Children who know the love of aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends and teachers
- A boy who once fought for every ounce of attention and material possession furiously working to pack Christmas Shoeboxes for children around the world
- Returned whispers of “I love you” when being tucked in at night
- Joy over now having their very own Bibles to read
- Children who know what a marriage looks like
- Boys who were fearful and avoiding of men now thrive on wrestling, hugs and interaction with them
- Two children who know that Jesus loves them personally and that He will always be with them
So tonight is for celebrating. Tonight the worries of “what if’s” are set aside. Tomorrow they will leave us but they go with so much more than they came with, always accompanied by the One who answers all the “what if’s”.
Great is our Lord and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5