Picture Unperfect

I don’t take picture perfect photos because my life isn’t picture perfect. I rarely use filters because I want you to see the imperfections. My entire life was re-routed because some people’s lives needed to look picture perfect.

This is why I do Foster Care. Matt and I were slated to do a private adoption, but God had other plans and I got pregnant three more times than we were expected to. But I also decided that I could not adopt exactly like I had been adopted.

So, we decided to do Foster Care because it is a huge need in our community.

Generational poverty mindset is prevalent which leads to poor choices on parents who pass those down to their kids who pass it down to their kids and so on. It’s not one set of parents, it’s decades or centuries of family history. The phrase, “hurt people hurt people” is 100% scientifically backed up. Abusers beget abusers until someone decides to break the cycle and say they deserve better and they are willing to do the hard work.

While the social workers do their best to help people out of this mindset. They truly are the superhero’s. Day after day working with clients in order to get them the helps, the tools, the access to, the education, the awareness, the counseling, the services… all to get them to be the ones that say they’ve had enough of the cycle. Social workers work HARD and they put so much of themselves into it. They are fighting for all sides. The biological parents, the kids and the foster parents.

But sometimes these kids get lost in a system. Sometimes they are taken from parents who cannot come out of their hardships. These are just children. A lot of them are hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their brains (and sometimes bodies) have been damaged or not given the chance to develop or heal in a safe space.

That’s where Foster Parents come in. We are not heros. We are not saviors. We are normal everyday people. A LOT of us having come out of similar circumstances wanting to turn back and help out. We are normal everyday people who just happen to have the courage to say, “I’ll love you even though I don’t know you. I’ll fight for you.”

It’s not easy. Matt and I have shed so many tears and cursed under our breath so many times. The system isn’t great, but it does work. The kids can be frustrating as they work through their hurt, but they are healing. Managing what is best for our own kids while bringing new people into our home is a juggling act. Dealing with our own trauma while handling someone else’s trauma is …. well, there is a reason we are all in counseling…

I’m not going to make this picture perfect. Like the movies do. Foster Care is the farthest thing from picture perfect and in fact may even wreck your picture perfect life. You’ll have to make the hardest decisions of your life. You will have to face your own devils. You will have to look messy sometimes… ok. All the time. You will have to juggle appointments and the police and lawyers.

But look at this. That’s my oldest son holding our foster daughter’s hand as on the first warm sunny spring day, my kids all just ran in a field, and climbed hills, and played with rocks and sticks. And the people passing and hiking around us would turn to comment comment on how much fun they were having and joyful their laughter was as it bounced of the hill and echoed over the valley.

OH! How He loves us!

He, my Jesus, loves us enough to catch us in our pain. We are not promised a perfect world. We are actually promised pain and suffering, but look at how He loves us. There is redemption in the faces of our own children as we battle our own generational battles. We work hard to ensure we change the cycles. We cover our family in prayer hoping it doesn’t slip through the cracks of our parenting.

OH! How He loves us!

And for this precious child whom we care for.

An orphan who sits balancing; unaware that her fate is in the hands of a panel of people in the capital who don’t know her or us. Who don’t see first hand the bond she has with her Foster Daddy or how she runs to my side of the bed at night. But I cannot fear because every moment I get to be her Mom I feel in the very marrow of my bones, “Oh how He loves us.”

This picture isn’t picture perfect. Children of an adopted child, children with diagnosis behind their name, a foster child whose parents were not able to care for her, and many more hurts we are not ready to share. Nor may ever share because they are so dark, deep, and painful they have almost taken this family down. Almost.

Because OH! How He loves us!

Look at that love. They fight. They picker. They tease each other. But they help each other put socks on. They share snacks with the baby in the care. They build each other sandcastles and then jump on them together. They kick each other under the table and pull each other’s hair. And they get mad when they have to share out attentions. And they can never decide on what movie to watch. And my oldest holds his foster sister’s hand and speaks sweet words to her because, Oh! How he loves her.

Foster care isn’t picture perfect. It’s the opposite. But it makes each picture more meaningful. It gives each picture more depth and weight. It brings light into the darkest of places.

Because that’s what love does.

It brings light to the very darkest of places.

Oh. How He loves us all.

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