The LORD your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you. – Zephaniah 3:17
Recently, a foster-mother came into my office, shut the door, sat down, and started weeping over a decision, or lack thereof, regarding her foster child with-whom she has had since the child was a newborn. This foster-mother has experience with the system and usually “rolls with the punches”, but this time, she was absolutely wiped out emotionally.
With puffy eyes and thick tears, she told me how the upcoming court case was going to be continued and very important decisions; perhaps the most important decisions made throughout the duration of the case, were not going to be made. “How can they do this?”, she asked. “What do I tell my family?” I just listened to her, and tried to encourage her the best way I could at the time.
If the truth were told, sometimes, I really don’t know what the right thing is to say to foster parents who are grieving. I’ve been there in that place of confusion and grief when fostering my children, but my babies did not leave my home. They were not reunified and my life was tremendously altered by adoption. I’ve learned in this field that sometimes the best thing to do is to say very little and just let people speak openly about their lives, situations sadness, anger, and loss. Most of the time, the answer or wisdom they are seeking can be found in their own thoughts if they are allowed to process them.
I agree with and understand the federal law that protects the birth parents rights to be reunified with their children. I too would want the opportunity to rectify my life situation so that I could have my children back. I get that, but, I don’t understand sometimes why court decisions get delayed. It frustrates me that children linger in the system for seemingly no reason; except that they are not able to reunified with birth family, or they are never adopted by families. In this foster parent’s situation, the birth parents really have not been involved, and the little one that is so loved really only knows the foster family who has been caring for her every needs.
This side of me that wears skin, this piece of my heart that gets torn apart, the salt in my tears, and this gravity of the weight of the world we live in, wears on me. It causes me to question where He is when children are being abused and neglected. It forces me to wonder if He is near the grieving foster parents, afflicted birth parents, and parent-less children. It challenges me to want to turn away from the field I’m in and wipe myself clean of it, and yet, how can I walk away from this? How can any of us turn our backs when we live with the knowledge that children are being abused in our own backyards, and around the world?
I know the Lord is in control. I know He loves these children more than any foster parent, adoptive parent, or birth parent could ever comprehend. I know all of them really belong to Him, not us. Our Heavenly Father holds our tears, whispers reassurance, and visually reminds us of His presence through His word, each other, and the wonders of the world.
The foster-mother who shed quiet tears in my office also knows that the Lord she prays to, lives for, and believes in, was sitting next to her when she got the phone call of the news she didn’t want to hear. He was present with her when she sat in her car crying and wondering what she was going to tell her family. He walked in with her to my office and listened while she proclaimed her grief.
The belief that causes my heart to feel less burdened by the sadness around is the idea that the God who breathed life into our lungs, is the same God who was present in my office that day a heart-broken woman entered my room. He is also the same God who will be standing with us all when our lives come to an end. He knows the end of our stories, for He has already written them. He has claimed us as His own.
If there is anything we could all do for foster parents, birth parents, and children who are in the child welfare system, it is to reassure them that they are mightily loved by a Father who is present in each moment; each court date, each phone call, each sleepless night, each embrace, each joy, each hour of despair, and every moment they feel they cannot go on. God is not absent.
God Is In The Midst