Wednesday, July 27, 2011

saying goodbye, again

If and when you make the ginormous decision to be a foster parent, learning to say goodbye is inevitable.

When our family took the plunge into the world of foster care, back in 2008, we were as prepared as we could be for this to happen. We anticipated children coming and going. I dreamed of the many faces and personalities that would become a part of our lives for a period of time. The weeks of foster training reminded us that in most cases, children will be returned to their birth parents or a relative. This, after all, is the primary goal of foster care.

It's a tricky thing to sign up for. Apart from God's leading for our family, I cannot imagine doing this. I mean, why would I want to care for a child or children, get attached to them, only to have to say goodbye after 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, a year, or even 2 years? How could I do that? How could I put my children through that pain of loss? It's not just a tricky thing to sign up for, it's a crazy thing to sign up for! In essence, when you choose to be a foster parent, you are saying yes to:

- your family dynamics changing, again and again
- driving your foster child to visits, doctors offices, various appointments
- possible behavior problems
- unknown health issues
- emotional ups and downs and many tears
- doubts that you ever should have done this
- giving your heart and love to a child you don't know
- reorganizing the space in your home
- the reality of having to say goodbye
- trusting God for this child's future when they leave you

It's one thing to offer your life up for such a cause when you are married...
- when you have someone who is living the challenges and joys right beside you
- when you have someone to talk with about the decisions that need to be made
- when you have someone to cry with, to pray with, to dream with, to trust with

But what about offering up your life for such a cause when you are single?

My longtime friend Becky has chosen to do just that. Today she just said goodbye to a 10-year old girl that she parented for the last month. This was her third foster daughter and her third goodbye.

I have watched her sacrifice her time, her money, her privacy, her personal space, her freedom, her possessions, and her preferences to name just a few things.

I have watched her sacrificially care.

I have watched her humbly ask for help.

I have watched her trust in the Lord through the challenges, not denying the turmoil but choosing to love regardless.

And really, it's been a beautiful thing for me and my family to witness, up close. I can gather my children together and point to Aunt Becky as an example of how sometimes God calls us to do hard things. And sometimes we are called to do them seemingly alone.

When they look at their Aunt Becky, they can see a real life example of how following Christ means losing our own lives; abandoning our own desires, so that we might demonstrate the good news of Jesus to others.

I thank God for my friend. I am praying for her as she has had to say goodbye to a special little girl.


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