Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Five Pound Gift of Joy

"This is a tough business but his little face and the joy he has brought our household reminds me constantly that any heartbreak is worth it to give him love!! Our house is head over heels in love with him and we pray every day that God will do what is best for him!!" ~Kate, facebook friend from high school and foster mom to 'Peanut', age 2 weeks.

My friend Kate and her husband Steve became licensed foster parents recently. I was thrilled when I heard the news right before Thanksgiving. They are wonderful people and terrific parents with a lot of love and stability to give. There is a shortage of foster homes, particularly good ones. The good homes get full and stay full. I figured they’d have a placement within a week.

I over-estimated.

They had a placement the next day.

Peanut is a five-pound sack of innocence dropped into this world via biological parents who are completely unable to take care of him. He left the hospital as a ward of the state belonging to the government as opposed to a loving family.

Luckily, Peanut was delivered into the safe embrace of a family that was willing to open their hearts and home to a baby in need. He has been nurtured, protected, and fiercely loved since he crossed their threshold.

Kate and Steve said yes despite what this might cost them. They know they are opening their hearts to a baby who might be there a month, a year, or forever. They know it will hurt if and when he leaves their home and returns to parents who may or may not have gotten it together. They said yes anyway, trusting they can do their part and God will take care of the rest.

Working in the system for nearly two decades, I’ve been well-trained to separate church and state. I don’t talk about how I see God moving and working among the most vulnerable and those who care for them.

I don’t talk about the small group of juvenile court magistrates who pray each morning for wisdom, guidance, and protection for their charges before they start their dockets. I don’t talk about the priest who lights a candle and prays each day for the thousands of foster children who are at risk. I don’t write about how I sometimes open the book I wrote and barely recognize the words because the entire time I was writing I felt like Something Bigger was writing through me.

Maybe I should start.

Because God is very much present in the suffering and joy hidden in the lives of foster children and those who serve them. God will give Kate and Steve and their biological kids the grace they need in order to handle whatever this journey brings into their lives.

So if fear is holding you back, keeping you from taking a few steps into the wild and crazy world of foster care, do not be afraid. You will not be alone. You will be given the grace to do whatever it is you are called to do. I know that because I have seen it over and over again.

We are in the midst of a season where we remember and welcome a baby born into this world as a great gift from God. Jesus comes to us in many forms and in many ways.

When he shows up in the form a vulnerable, abused, five-pound sack of innocence, how will we receive him?