I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and connection with friends and loved ones. Here is a picture of my crew as we were “trying” to take a decent picture. As you can see, my husband and I just gave up on getting the kids to take the process seriously, and just went with it. And, I’m so glad we did! Merry Christmas!
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.
Working in child welfare for any amount of time forces the rude awakening of the troubles we have in our society and the daily struggles that too many children have in the United States. There are children who are fatherless, motherless, or both. Many are taking care of their baby siblings even though they are babies themselves. Some can tell you how to prepare a crack pipe because they have witnessed it in their home. Others do not understand boundaries or safety because they have never been kept safe. Infants are born with the addictions of their mothers; or at least, the exposure of poor choices made while in the womb. If you do not believe or understand this, then I encourage you to spend a day with a child abuse and neglect investigator.
It is deeply troubling when I hear people dismiss children as if they carry no purpose. I have written about this before in my post Where is Your Treasure?
ALL children are vital to this world. ALL children are precious in the eyes of the Lord. He loves each one as if he or she is His only child.
They teach us to forgive quickly, to slow down, to laugh, and to dream. They see things through the lens of innocence. They have great purpose in this world. Not to sound cliché, but they are the future and the potential fulfillment of all things good in this world.
When I took this picture of my daughter above at a family get together, I could not help but think about what the life of a child should be made of. Their lives should be filled with love, silliness, warmth, and parents. Their lives should be enveloped in family, memories, shelter, encouragement, and safety. They deserve days filled with the warmth of sunshine, the laughter of playmates, and the sweetness of ice cream cones.