Last night we had the privilege of spending the evening around a bonfire in the country. Hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the sound of crackling wood, a gorgeous full moon, the chatter of folks, and gleeful screams of children playing in the field next to us made up our evening. Fires are so good at catching one’s eye. I sat and stared for a long time at the majestic wisps of flames as they flickered their way up to the heavens.
With the scent of fall in the air and the comfort of a blanket over me, my thoughts immediately went to the reason why we were all out there under the stars. Out of the eighteen or so children present last night, around thirteen of them were adopted out of foster care. Let me say that again….13 out of 18 or so children present last night were adopted out of foster care. Most of the children were siblings of some sort, but not all. A handful of families adopted the siblings. Honestly, it was kind of nice to be at an event where my children were not a minority. Usually when we go to “get-togethers”, or anywhere in general, my kids are typically the only ones adopted; especially out of protective services.
There is something comforting when being around fellow parents who have experienced the journey of being a foster parent and adopting. We are able to swap stories of our experiences and compare notes. We can relate to the challenges sometimes experienced when raising children with histories of abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure, or separation from family of origin. We can also talk about resources that may come in handy if future issues should arise.
Last night, I took a moment to look out in the field at the children playing. The image of glow sticks in hands, glow-in-the-dark balloons bouncing up and down, and the sounds of laughing children running freely through the field filled my mind and my heart with gratefulness. I thought about how their young lives were interrupted by the ways of the world and the poor choices of their birth parents. I thought about the losses every single one of them has endured already in life. I thought about the adults around the fire who took them in. I thought about the opportunities they have because of permanency in their lives.
I thought about how they get to have a childhood free of abuse. I also thought about how lucky we are to be a part of this. Adoption out of foster care is not a second best choice. It is not reserved for only those who cannot afford private adoption. It is not just for couples who are unable to have biological children. It is a blessing to parent a child whose beginning to life automatically put him or her in the category of the “least of these”.
It is a blessing to meet other adults whose lives have also been impacted by the decision to become foster parents. We are all connected in some way to each other by the children playing in the field. We are all a part of something bigger, something more eternal, and something better planned for these children.
As I watched the fire burn and looked around, thankfulness filled my heart. We were all brought together by the one true God who brings light into dark places, hope into hopeless situations, and love into the lives of all of us.