Sunday, January 17, 2016

Forks in the road

We've said since we started fostering, that even the best case is devastating.  Even if the parents overcome what put the children in care, the children still suffer the loss through that temporary situation.  And much more commonly, when you see a fork in the road in a case, the two possible outcomes are both deeply sad and filled with loss.

A child loses a foster family that are the only family he truly knows, or a child loses the chance to grow up with siblings.

A child loses the chance to know and grow up with biological extended family, or a child loses the chance to be raised by an adoptive family that is the perfect fit.

A child's case is dragged by various appeals, or a child grows up and learns that no biological family fought for her.

A child can't return to biological parents who truly are good parents in many ways but are not successful in completing a plan, or a child returns to biological parents who complete a plan but can't sustain the requirements long-term and the child re-enters foster care.

A child's case is dragged out because a parent isn't consistently involved as the case demands, or a child loses the chance to be raised by a loving parent that did not actually cause the neglect or abuse.

Often I don't know what outcome to pray for.  What to celebrate or anticipate.  We expect life to be cathartic: that the right thing happens, the wrong thing doesn't, and then we feel satisfied in that.

I can feel myself becoming weighed down with the current case we're in, stories of others' cases, and our past kids.  The system is not just broken, but it's a system made up of breaking and brokenness.  It can protect children, but only so much.

So, what is my only comfort in life and in death?

That [their] lives are not my own, [or my state's own, or my agency's own, or their biological parents' own], but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to [our] faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all [our] sins with his precious blood, and has set me [and the children, and their parents, and their families] free from all the power of the devil.  He also preserves [these children] in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from [their] head[s]; indeed, all things must work together for [their] salvation.  Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him. - Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1, with some edits.

I can be filled with anger that none of this should happen this way, that a child shouldn't have two paths ahead likely filled with brokenness.  And I can and should advocate at times.  But so far, my role has mostly been to accept the brokenness, show love, and wait.  God will meet him in the brokenness now and the brokenness ahead.  God will meet me in the waiting, in my attempts to show love, and in my own brokenness.

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