Headed Up the Hill (Guest Post by blogger Lisa Robertson of “Mess Into a Message”)

Right outside the main gate of Ancient Ephesus, there was a hill that acted as a – for lack of a better word – “baby dump.” It was a pagan society and when an unwanted baby was born, it was dumped up on the hill and left to die. Archeologists have found that often times these babies had deformities – or what our current culture would label, “special needs.” And other times, the child was just unplanned or unwanted. Ephesus also operated with a mindset that required you to live up to a certain standard…to look and act a certain way…beauty = worth. Therefore, if you birthed a baby with special needs, there was a lot of pressure and judgment placed on you.

Sound at all familiar?

With this evil and utterly disgusting practice in Ephesus, ancient writings suggest that early Christians would head up that hill to rescue the babies who were left to die and to adopt them as their own.

Isn’t that a beautiful image amongst a gruesome scene?

Now, I am no Bible scholar and I don’t know much more than that about the background of Ephesus during that time…(a friend and pastor at our local church shared all of that with me) but can you imagine what the culture must have thought? If they witnessed these early Christians trekking up that hill to rescue these “unwanted” children? They must have thought they were crazy. Why would they choose a hard, “against-the-grain” life by seeking after these children and choosing to make them their own?

I often feel that way as a foster parent. Many people don’t “get it.” They don’t get WHY we became foster parents. WHY we choose hard. WHY we would choose to welcome a child that required over 40 medical appointments in his first 8 weeks of life… Or simply why we would choose to sacrifice our time, our resources, our family dynamic for the “mess” of another’s.

Our culture often doesn’t “get” why an expecting family chooses to carry out the pregnancy they’ve been told will result in a still-born baby. WHY the expecting family chooses to bring their baby, diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, into the world when they learned of the diagnosis with plenty of time to terminate. WHY the comfortable family pays $40,000 to head to China to adopt a special needs child. WHY the foster family adopts a sibling group of 5 with trauma backgrounds that will lead them into endless amounts of therapy.

Why?

Because we were once a needy, blemished child on that hill crying out to be rescued. Our Savior heard our cries, and He climbed that hill to come get us.

In Acts, after Pentecost, Peter and John – filled with the Holy Spirit – proclaim the gospel and teach about Jesus’ resurrection. They heal a crippled man proclaiming to have done it in the name of Jesus. The rulers, elders, and scribes were astonished…they recognized they had been with Jesus…but they wanted them gone because they were afraid of losing their power or influence. They talked with each other and said, “What shall we do with these men?” (Acts 4:16)

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They witnessed miracles in the name of Jesus but they didn’t like it. They didn’t want it to be true…it didn’t fit with their culture or nicely into their standard boxes. Peter and John’s boldness threatened their lifestyle. These “Jesus people” were proclaiming to do things in the name of Jesus? With his help and power? What!? Well, that’s just uncomfortable.

Our culture and society today are often uncomfortable with this same boldness. In a world that strives for comfort, the “American dream,” biological children FIRST, adoption as a last resort, “my body, my choice,” and any other comfort inducing mindset…the idea of choosing the hard, choosing to live “against-the-grain” of what is typically acceptable, choosing to love sacrificially like Jesus…is well, uncomfortable and not ideal.

Might we stand against this societal strive for comfort and be people that our society and our culture “doesn’t know what to do with.” Might we proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Might we make our local foster care agency not know what to do with us as we step into the muck of foster care and love birth families beyond what makes sense.

Might we make our world around us scratch their heads and not know what to do with us as we literally go to the ends of the earth to willingly adopt the “unwanted.”

Might we make doctors and nurses scratch their heads and not know what do with us as we turn down their offensive offer to terminate and instead lovingly and excitedly choose to carry our special needs child to term and deliver them into this world.

Might we be the people headed up the hill to rescue the blemished children in the name of Jesus and by the power of His Spirit…knowing ourselves what it feels like to be rescued and adopted as sons through Jesus Christ (Acts 1:5).

Might we do none of these things out of charity, but out of love for Jesus.

 

Read more of Lisa’s beautifully honest posts on her blog:  Mess Into A Message Blog

Top 10 Characteristics of Successful Foster and Adoptive Families {Adoption.Com Article}

Adoption.Com published an article I wrote titled, Top 10 Characteristics of Successful Foster and Adoptive Families.  You can read the article by clicking here.

In my line of work, part of the responsibilities my staff and I have is to assess families who are interested in becoming foster and adoptive families for children in state custody.  We look at a variety of characteristics, as well as, the past and present functioning of the family system.

The characteristics in this article are just a few that prospective foster/adoptive families should take into consideration.  If you are considering becoming a foster family, take a moment to read through the article.  I hope it will help you discern whether foster parenting is the right fit for you and your family.

Dear Future Adoptive Parents

Dear Future Adoptive Parents,

Hello.  I’m not sure what to say except that I hope you want me as bad as I want you.  I need you to need me.  I know that sounds silly, coming from a kid and all, but if I were to be completely honest, I would tell you how desperately I long for a family, a mother, a father….anyone….anyone who will stick with me.

It’s hard, you know…growing up in foster care.  I’ve been through so many foster homes that I have lost count.  Honestly, I barely remember what my birth parents were like.  I remember their struggles, and I remember their ignorance of me, but I scour my mind over and over in an attempt to remember the parts of them that were loving, kind, and made me feel special.

Dear future Mamma, I wish that one day I will find myself twirling my fingers through your hair, laughing until our bellies hurt, shopping until we drop, and feeling the softness of your gentle hug when you tuck me into bed at night.  I need a mother who will teach me to respect my body, tell me I am beautiful, and grow me into a loving person.

Dear future Dad, I’ve never had a dad who stayed around for too long.  I hope that when you say you are going to be there for me, you really mean it.  I want, so badly, for you to protect me, stick up for me, compliment me, and show me what it means to be a father.  I need more than just someone who helps to pay the bills, and watches sports with me.  I need a father who will nurture my talents, admonish my poor choices, and make me feel like the most special person on Earth.

I desperately need to feel a love without condition.  I desperately need to know that I belong to someone…anyone…. 

Dear Future Adoptive Parents,

What is it about me that makes you want to stay?  Is it my smile, that look in my eyes, or that special talent I claim as my own?  Help me to understand it.  Help me to feel the very reason why you have chosen me.  I need to know that this is not a gimmick, a popular thing to do, and a persuasion from anything outside of your own heart.

Help me to see God through you.

The truth is, I have a list of things I want in parents.  You might be surprised to know that it is the simple things in life that I yearn for.  I need parents who do not do drugs, or put their habits ahead of me.  I want a family who can have fun, laugh…a lot…and enjoy life.

I like to watch movies, and dream of family movie nights with popcorn, late hours, and lasting memories.  I would love to travel.  I’ve never been anywhere, really, except the small towns and big cities I have been passed around in while in foster care.

I know this sounds odd coming from a young person, but I really hope for a home with food in it.  I don’t want to have to worry about when or if I’m going to eat.  I want to be able to enjoy junk food, but would love a mom or dad who can cook healthy meals, and one who truly cares about my health and nutrition.

I have been disappointed so often through the years that it is hard to believe that I still cling on to the hope of a being loved…by a family…by anyone….

I still love my birth parents.  You need to know that.  I still think about them, wonder if they are okay, hope that maybe, just maybe, they are thinking about me, and question if I will ever get to see them again.

I need for you to be okay with my thoughts about my birth family.  I want you to listen to my questions, my own often misguided answers, and my longings to understand why I am living separate from them.  You need to tell me truth in a way that nurtures my growth.

This is hard, you know.  I am just a child, and yet, I have gone through, witnessed, survived, and have been pulled from a life that you and your picture-perfect friends could not even imagine.

Dear Future Adoptive Parents,

I’m not perfect, but neither are you.  Can you hold me when I rage against all that has been?  Will you stick around when I skip school, question your authority, tell you that I want to move to another family, or completely reject you?

What will it feel like when I make you feel the pain I’ve been feeling through the years?

The truth is while I have desired for a family to call my own, I have also felt afraid of one.  The “what-if’s” seem so overwhelming at times that I can hardly stand it.

What if I am rejected?  What if I am never chosen?  Why do I have this life?  What if this is as good as it gets?

Promise me one thing.  Promise me that when you will not promise forever.  I know that sounds odd, but the truth is, I have been promised forever so often that I don’t believe it anymore.

What does forever mean?  Two weeks, two months, or two years….

Instead, tell me that you will do your very best to meet my needs.  Help me to understand that I need to tell you how I am feeling.  I need a LOT of patience.  Do you have that in you?  Can you help me learn patience as well?  Really?  I mean it when I say it.  It is make-or-break for me, you know.

I am nearing the end of my childhood, and I have nothing to stand upon as I enter adulthood….Do you understand that?

Dear Future Adoptive Parents,

In so many ways, I am just like other kids.  I want to be fashionable, hang out at the local hang-outs for kids my age, participate in sports, listen to the music I want to listen to, and learn to drive when the time comes.

In other words, I want….better yet….I need a life minus all of this foster care stuff.  

If I could tell you one thing it would be this, I don’t care if you are tall, small, rich, or poor.  I don’t care if you have a mansion, a small home, a sports car, or a car that barely makes it down the road.

It doesn’t bother me if you have a few bad habits (so do I), or if you are the perfect depiction of health.  I don’t care if you are married, single, what race you are, or if you fill my list of what I want in a family.

I just cling on to the hope that you are out there searching for me just like I am longing for you.  I hope and pray that you will find yourself needing me, as much as I need you.

I know that sounds silly, coming from a kid and all, but if I were to be completely honest, I would tell you how desperately I long for a family, a mother, a father….anyone….anyone who would stick with me.

I need to feel hope for the future. 

I need you to need me.  

Author’s Note:  This post was inspired by the years I spent listening to children in foster care (of all ages) describe what they desire in adoptive families.  Moreover, it was especially inspired by a hand-written list of wants that a teenager in foster care handed her social worker when asked what she wants in a family.  I hope this post inspires you to truly consider the needs of orphans in our world, and especially, the incredible opportunity to lead youth in foster care to a life “minus all of the foster care stuff”.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -James 1:27