Back in 2006 when we first became foster parents, I was not really sure what to think about what we had just thrown ourselves into. My husband and I understood the legalities and processes of being foster care parents, but of course, were not as prepared for the emotional and spiritual aspect of it. I respected and followed the laws regarding reunification, but to be honest, deep down I knew that fostering children would help to fill the hole in my life that had existed due to being barren.
In some respects, it seemed that fostering was a noble cause, while on the other, it also felt like it was more about my needs. In the end, we hoped to adopt but understood completely that there was no guarantee at all of this.
The same day we were licensed, we received our first placement of a precious little two-day-old baby boy. We were ecstatic, excited, and nervous at the same time. The few first days with him were just a whirlwind of no sleep, visiting relatives, learning, and joy. My body was so tired, but my mind was already set on imagining what was to come. To be honest, I fell in love with him the minute I saw him.
On the Monday following the placement of this sweet little one in our home, the case worker called to establish visits, set up meetings, and to let me know they (the state) were looking into finding relatives. This conversation was sobering and brought me back to the reality of being a foster care parent. I was just someone to nourish this child while his birth parents gathered their lives back together.
As I was talking to her on the phone, this innocent little one was quietly sleeping in his crib. He had no idea of the gravity of the conversation taking place. His little life and the decisions being made for him were in the hands of the juvenile justice system. As soon as the phone call ended, I dropped to the floor in front of his crib and immediately began sobbing.
In that moment of complete vulnerability, I started praying “Oh God, Your will not mine, Your will not mine, but if it is Your will for him to stay, Father, then show me the way Lord. Help me through this.” I held my hands up to Him as if I was holding this baby up to the Lord.
On my knees with my hands held up high facing this child that I was already passionately in love with was the most remarkable, yet heartbreaking moment of the beginning of my foster care journey. In that moment, the Lord said to me “Caroline, this is not about you. This is not about you.”
This was an “aha” moment, or more like an Amen moment. Fostering this child really was not about me. I thought going into it that I would be offering a “service” while getting my fill of mommy-moments, and that it would all just be okay. Looking back, I believe that the Lord was proving Himself by refining me to be a person of less selfish desires and more humility. This was about this child and his birth parents. It was about the Lord’s will, not mine.
There were times throughout fostering him that I wondered and fretted over what the future held. Again though, the Lord reminded me that I just had to act in love. I had to wake up every day with the intention of being a loving foster parent to this child and of showing mercy to his birth mother. One foot in front of the other…one day at a time.
Strange as it may sound, fostering a child with whom you would give your life for is like trying to swim in mud. The more you try, the more energy you exert, and the more love you give, the thicker the mud seems to get. Fostering this little one was also one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
Daily, the Lord gently reminded me that this journey was not about me, but about His will and His intentions over this child. He also provided me with moments to walk humbly and act mercifully. The Lord implored me to show love and to increase my prayer life.
Through prayer I found submission and trust; not just trust of a few of the details, but trusting God with complete wholeness. His plan for our lives outweighed our intentions and was more powerful than anyone else’s. My daily prayers for this baby boy included praying steadfastly for the Lord’s will. They also included asking the Lord to help me put my desires behind and that He would bring clarity and intervention as fitting and according to His plan.
As the case moved along, I found myself more and more in love with the sweet one, but I also found myself caring deeply for his birth mother. Some people said to me “I don’t know how you do it.” I know how. My faith became stronger, my leaning on His wisdom became more pure, and I met the Lord through His continual guidance that the only way to walk this path was with love.
When the case was over, almost two years later, we adopted our sweet boy. I am so incredibly grateful and keenly aware of this tremendous blessing. I am even more thankful though that I had to fall on my knees with hands held high, with tears streaming down my cheek, and with a heart of submission declaring “Oh God, Your will, not mine”.