November 13, 2018 | By Kendra Evans
Pray for the Church to listen to God’s heart for children and to act on it.
Learn to practice what is good; seek justice, alleviate oppression, defend orphans in court, and plead the widow’s case. (Is 1:17)
Enjoy this powerful testimony by a foster parent, part of the IFA 5-day devotional series, The Immense Value of Children in God’s Eyes.
My husband Ian and I first had thoughts of becoming foster parents when our youngest child was just a year old. We knew that choosing this path was a massive commitment. We were willing but there were so many details that needed to be worked out first. He and I faltered back and forth as to who was ready when we should start the process. I was ready, he was not. He would be ready, then I would have my reasons as to why it was not a good time.
At this time, we faced some above-average obstacles in life. We didn’t have family living near us. Ian just changed jobs, again. We just moved, again. I have been on a roller coaster with Lyme disease and had just started being able to climb stairs, again. Our oldest son struggles with OCD and anxiety and had just started a new med, again. Our new house needs a lot of work and progress is really slow because we are doing the work ourselves (oh, no, not again!).
When things settle down…When we have formed a tight support network of new friends…When we meet more people from church…When I am 100% healthy…When you are settled in your new job…When we get unpacked…When we finish at least half of the remodeling…When the boys are better behaved… The legitimate reasons for not starting the process continued. We have to have it all together before starting this, right?
One morning during a business trip, Ian called me early and said, “I had a dream. I can’t really explain it, but we need to start the foster care process.” He spoke with such conviction. But….but…how can we bring a child into this mess?! We’ve never even met any foster parents. That day we began not only listening, but acting.
Our first long-term foster placement came into this mess of ours. But Jacob didn’t see a mess. Jacob saw a loving family, food in the kitchen, and three meals a day. He went to school and attended church for the first time. He developed friendships, ate new healthy foods, rode an escalator, had a birthday party, saw the ocean, and created his own ‘fun day journal’ to document it all. He learned responsibilities and roles in a family, learned manners and social skills, and learned to pray. He made the honor roll for the first time. He was baptized. Jacob didn’t notice the trim missing in some rooms or that some closets were without doors. He didn’t notice the dated cabinets and kitchen appliances, only the awesome food prepared and served in that kitchen. He didn’t notice the days when I was feeling poorly or Ian was stressed with work. He saw only a movie and popcorn night with brothers.
Early one morning, I was taking Jacob to the dentist before school, in the rain, running late. Cold, wet, grumbling to myself about schedules, appointments, time, etc., driving down our rural road, a massive mutant turkey flew out and I hit it straight on. We both screamed. I kept driving to make that appointment on time. During Jacob’s procedure, I called Ian to tell him about the turkey. He asked me if it did any damage to the car. I went out and checked. Sure enough, it cracked the front bumper and grill. Ugh. I sensed a hint of doubt in Ian’s voice as to the size of this turkey. Once we were in the car, I told Jacob we were going to school the long way as we were going to go get that turkey! Jacob squealed with delight. We slowly drove through the spots where we thought it was. We spotted it in a ditch, but had to safely park down the road. We ran in the rain to grab the dead bird. It was so heavy that we each held a leg as we ran back to the car carrying the beast. As we were running, in the rain, carrying a dead turkey, Jacob called out, “This is the best day of my life! This is going in my fun journal for sure!” In that moment, I realized that something remarkable had happened. Jacob had learned resiliency in a less than ideal situation. He felt happiness and laughter instead of anger and aggression when things didn’t go as planned. Our self-perceived chaos was his calm.
Several months into having Jacob, we were asked by our caseworker if we were going to adopt him. We knew that parental rights were quickly being terminated. Ian and I were suddenly faced with all kinds of unexpected emotions. We agreed to take a week to think and pray about it separately and then come together again to discuss it. After a week, we both had the same answer, for the same reasons. We were not going to adopt him.
We did, however, agree to wait and tell the agency several weeks from then in order to have more time with Jacob. Just a few days later though, we knew that although so very painful and difficult, we had to tell our decision to the agency without any delay.
We have been asked by many, “But I thought you were an adoptive family?” Yes, so did we. We planned, we scheduled, we talked, we disciplined, we loved, we struggled, we witnessed growth, we witnessed regression, we increased the frequency of counseling, we changed routines, we accommodated all children, we were determined to make it work, we would adjust, we, we, we……Only when WE listened to God, really listened, did we understand that we needed to get over our own efforts and our own egos telling us that we were what is best for Jacob.
God had clearly called us to foster Jacob. But God had another plan for Jacob’s adoption.
God’s timing is always perfect. In His time, we were able to have Jacob’s adoptive family over for dinner so that they could meet him, see where he has been living, and see him socialize without pressure. God’s timing revealed the best family for Jacob. If we had followed our desires and waited, then this family would not have been available. He will be an only child, something that past and present social workers and counselors all have said and agree would be the ideal environment for him. He has room to play, many animals, and his new dad is a cook, which is an area of extreme interest for Jacob. By giving up on our own efforts and trusting in God’s, we are able to continue a lifelong relationship with him as aunt, uncle, and cousins. Through His timing, Jacob was able to make a transition. Our whole family took him to their house for the first time to spend his first two nights with them. We have experienced birthdays, sleepovers, and holidays together. We are the extended family Jacob never had.
We still don’t have doors on our closets and have unpacked boxes in the attic. The kitchen is still outdated and barely functioning and there are days I don’t feel well. Yet, despite these things, we will continue fostering children, knowing that our worst days can be their absolute best.
Prayer Points: Pray for the 400,000 children in foster care in America (Mark 10:13-16); pray for placement of the 100,000 foster children eligible for adoption (Matthew 25:40); pray for God to raise up families to take in foster children (James 1:27, Matthew 18:5); pray for the Church to listen to God’s heart for children and to act on it (James 1:22).
(By Kendra Evans, Woven Ministry. Woven is a ministry of Purcellville Baptist Church in Purcellville, Virginia. Woven strives to EDUCATE the church body about the needs of the orphan and foster child, ASSIST in caring for these children, and SUPPORT adoptive/foster families and those involved in orphan care.)