Contents tagged with faith
If you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably cry. If you give me a hug, I’ll probably cry. If you tell me you care, squeeze my hand, or catch my eye, I’ll probably cry. And, you know what? That’s okay.
All my life I’ve been the strong one, the responsible oldest sister, the one who makes things happen. No one ever called me the sensitive or tender hearted one. I built up a thick protection, hiding all pain and sorrow in little compartments to be kept hidden unless I was alone. To me pain was private and personal, not to be shared, not open for public viewing.
Then God gave and God took away. First sweet five month old Meggie, and then bubbly eight month old Jenna. Where I once sat and rocked two tiny babies, I now sit and hold two little outfits, outfits that I press to my face vainly trying to recapture that precious baby scent.
When we lost Meg, I avoided anyone who wasn’t family. I would leave a room quickly to avoid having my tears be seen. I carefully avoided places where I would feel vulnerable. We didn’t attend church for a month. We lost Jenn four days ago. Today, I sat in church with a weeping son huddled under each arm, and I wept, and beside us my mom …
Since becoming a foster mom there is one statement people make to me which I want to take a quick moment to address. It is usually said in a cheery off-hand sort of way and goes something like this, “Oh, you do foster care? I could never do that. I’d never be able to let the babies go; it would be too hard!”
I’ve been tempted to respond with a sarcastic, “Well gee, it’s easy for me because I’m really a very cold hearted person.” What I usually say instead is something more along the lines of, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to give up a child, but I know that if God calls me to it, He’ll also give me the strength to get through it.”
My sister Jenny, also a foster mom, meets the statement with, “I know it would be really hard, but sometimes we need to put our feelings aside and do what’s best for the children.”
As we face our first foster baby leaving this week, I have learned a new meaning for the word grief. But, I also had the privilege of caring for her these five months and am honored and blessed to carry her in my heart and prayers for the rest of my life. And I’m trusting God to get me through it.
I wake up this morning with a stomach bug so bad I can’t even straighten, after spending most of the night awake, in tears, and, I’m loathe to admit it, utterly despairing. This is coming on the tail of a nasty virus I’ve had for days, my boys being away at camp, and my mom far away when I so desperately need her. Despite all my calls to lawyers and caseworkers they plan to come and take away our little Meggie on Wednesday, and not to a better future, but to put her in a different foster home in a different state, to be a victim of the system. Such a beautiful happy baby, who smiles in her sleep every time I go in to check on her, almost as if she senses me standing there, who belly laughs when her sisters play peek-a-boo with her, and who is thriving and well adjusted. And I cry out to God, “How much do you think I can take? Are you even paying attention here!?” And I wonder, “Is this how Job felt?” And I ask, “God, where are you in all of this?”
Then, I pick up baby Jenn and she gurgles with joy. I help her with her physical therapy, and she’s able to reach her toes -a breakthrough for her- and my broken heart catches a glimpse God. My toddler, with her frizzy blond …
As I stepped up to the desk at NICU to meet our new foster baby, I tried to look like a pro. I showed my photo ID and was taken into a dimly lit room full of bassinets and nurses who were charting on the computers scattered about.
“Here she is,” the nurse said before hurrying off, “don’t pick her up until I go find her paperwork.”
I looked eagerly into the bassinette and beheld perhaps the ugliest baby I’d ever seen. Bug eyed, skinny, bald.
I guess they can’t all be cute, I thought with a grin, I really can’t wait to hear what Matt will say when he sees her, though. Then I noticed a blue card on the crib, declaring the baby a boy. I was looking into the wrong bed. I turned and found her behind me, much more normal looking. She was small and as bundled as could be in her swaddle and hat with a pacifier taking up most of her face. About all I could make out were her round cheeks and the fact that she was white, a detail we hadn’t known until then.
After an hour of standing there awkwardly, talking to her but not touching her, the nurse informed me that the paperwork hadn’t come through and I needed to leave. The social worker had told them about us and given all of our …
“We had another baby to place the day after Megan,” The licensing worker tells me over the phone, “But we thought we’d give you a few days to settle in before giving you another baby.”
“My boys keep complaining that we don’t have enough babies to go around,” I tell her, laughing, “They think we need three more so that they can each have one to hold all the time.”
Less than a week later the phone rings again.
“It’s DHS! It’s DHS!” Joey calls excitedly, handing me the phone, “Say, ‘yes,’ Mom! Say, ‘yes!’” He’s literally jumping up and down, a standard response from him. DHS could call and ask us to take five ax murders and my boys would enthusiastically beg me to say yes. I shush him and go hide in the laundry room to take the call.
“We have a 4 month old baby girl who may need a new placement,” The worker tells me, “I know you already have Megan, but was wondering if your boys really wanted another baby to hold?”
I tell her I’ll talk to Matt and call her back. I call Matt. We talk and pray together. I pray alone. I pray for hours as I go about my day. I call Matt again. We talk some more. Finally, I call her back.
“If you really need us to take her we will, but if …
Between October and March we received around fifteen calls from various members of the Washtenaw County Department of Human Services with children they would like to place in our home. With each call, it was difficult to decline, but it was also right. They weren’t a fit for us, or we weren’t a fit for them. We wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor by saying yes when it was clear that we should be saying no. But, it was hard, because the question always lurked, If not us, then who?
Then, at the end of February Joey started praying that God would bring us a foster baby we could keep within a week. Twenty minutes short of a week later we got the call for Megan. I knew that it was right. Matt was still home. I didn’t even have to call him. We said yes, then called our pray-ers to get them praying for this little baby.
Late that afternoon I dropped my kids at my sisters and headed to the hospital. I prayed all the way there, through the parking garage, and down the hallway, the presence of the Spirit was nearly tangible. After having my ID checked twice and two security guards and a Child protective Services Worker escort me up the elevator, my ID was checked yet again. Then, …
"Any form of physical punishment including the use of the hand, switch, belt, paddle, extension cord, or other objects to strike a child.” -From the Department of Human Services foster parent list of prohibited forms of behavior management.
It seemed to me almost amusing that anyone would think they even needed to state this. Obvious, really. Hit a child? Hit a child with an extension cord, no less? Unimaginable. And, in truth, does it really need to be said? I read the above to a friend, who found it anything but amusing, stating matter of factly, “I was beaten with all those things when I was a kid.” So, sadly, yes, it does need to be said. Lord, deliver these children. Forgive us for our complacence.