One family. Two years. Eight children.
That’s the short explanation of our life. When outsiders ask us questions about what it’s like to be a foster family, they almost never question us further. But the questions are there, in their eyes, as they look down the line of children at my side. The judgement is there, all over their faces, as they dismissively comment, ‘Well, I could never do that,’ before turning their attention back to their own lives. ‘I could never do that.’ So, stranger, let me answer some of those questions you’ve been afraid to verbalize. Pull up a chair. Get comfortable. Let me invite you in…
‘Hey, Grace. A baby girl was abandoned at the hospital. She doesn’t even have a name. It probably won’t be forever, but we need to place her in a foster home. Can you come pick her up in an hour?’
We were standing in Target, trying to buy pants for the 12-year-old who was already in our care, when I took that phone call. My husband and I made eye contact. We didn’t even need to discuss it. ‘Yes.’ We grabbed a few outfits and a pack of diapers, swung by the house to grab a car seat, and 45 minutes later, the most perfect little Pakistani princess was placed in our arms. Her legal name? Safe (our county) Surrender.
We handled it. We sat by her bedside as she woke up from surgeries. We held her as she cried pitifully. We learned how to care for a colostomy bag. We ordered supplies and paid for them out of pocket. We bought new clothes to leave room for her colostomy bag. We watched her heal. We watched her begin to trust us. We loved her, and she flourished. She had surgery again at 10- months-old to reverse her colostomy and she never looked back.
‘Hey, Grace. We published in the paper for the unknown father. We haven’t gotten a response. It looks like this case will be going toward adoption.
I want to pause my story here for a moment. Because ultimately, our fostering journey comes down to one, very simple thing: hope. The practice of waiting with great expectation for things to come. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t make us saints. But it does lead us to believe there is more out there, and better out there, for broken families and hurting children.
So, let’s address some of those unspoken questions you probably brought to the table:
‘How do you love so many children, and let them go back home?’
Hope. I have genuine hope that their families have learned how to better cope with stress. I have hope that we’ve forged deep, meaningful relationships with the biological family. I have hope we’ll see them again, but under much better circumstances.