Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our Foster Care Story...Part 1

(Our foster care/adoption nursery is just about ready!)

Sometimes life dishes you a "plan". Something you know God revealed to you to do. You feel secure in that plan, but then it changes. We felt safe in this call. This plan to adopt a child, however God changed up that plan and called us to do something (if I'm being completely raw and honest) that we did NOT care to do.

Foster care.

That type of amazing "kingdom work" was for those really strong Christians. The ones that can handle (it seems like) everything. They have the strength to take in a child who has been abused, neglected, who has been exposed to things a young child should not be exposed to. They minister to them and then give them back to their families. Somehow, those strong families hold it all together, emotions and all.

 "I am not one of those people, Lord. Don't call me to do that. Please."

The more I researched and the more God was brining amazing foster care parents into our lives, the more I realized that they were just ordinary families like us who didn't have superhero strength. They were just obeying a call from God.

This is the beginning our story...

A little over two years ago, we began a journey to adopt a child. You can read about our adoption story by clicking on the side bar link "adoption" There are two parts. We knew the Lord laid it on our hearts to adopt. That's how God can start a revelation, by laying something heavy on one's heart.  After various revelations, He put everything together. We completed paperwork and home studies. We created a nursery (we felt called to do an infant, domestic adoption this time for a hand full of reasons), bought a few, various items and learned as much about adoption as we could.

After two years of waiting, we got an out-of-the-blue phone call one morning from our agency (I was thinking it was a call for a match...sigh). They said that they had so many waiting families (over 100) that they were no longer taking applications and they were informing their families that they were offering REFUNDS to their waiting families if they wanted to go ahead with another agency, withdrawing from theirs. It would be YEARS before anything went through.

I was heart broken. I cried on the back steps. You never truly understand the emotions that you are about to go through on a journey such as this. I asked God why He allowed this to happen. He called us to adopt, but yet He was closing this door somehow.

As I got up from the steps, I felt confused, but I know that we do not serve a God of confusion.

Something was up.

A good friend told me to take time to grieve that loss. I did for a few days. Then, I got out all our adoption paperwork from various agencies and went "back to the drawing board". Maybe the Lord wanted us using a different agency. I wasn't sure, but after being on the phone most of the afternoon with other agencies asking for price breakdowns of their ridiculous adoption costs, I was done.

Yep. Done.

Just picture me in a closet (because all 5 kids were awake!), banging my head against the closet door with phone in hand letting the very last agency I was to talk to that day "have it". I told her she was running a business and I hung up. Why other agencies are double and triple the cost of what our agency was asking, I don't know. What I did learn is that if an adoption agency doesn't give you a price breakdown, hang up!

"Lord, this can't be right. This can't be what you want for us. What is your will?"

I threw all the adoption paperwork in the trashcan and just continued to pray the rest of the day. I sat in the nursery, wondering why God would reveal something so specific and then take it away.

A friend at church started talking about foster care.

Foster care.

The kind of kingdom work for the strong families. Those mamas are AH-MA-ZING, but that's not me. I could never handle caring for and loving a child for weeks, months or years and then handing the child back to their parents, sometimes in situations where you know they shouldn't have been handed back. It's a sin battle. It's spiritual warfare! Some of these parents are able to overcome the battle to get their children back and some, unfortunately, are not.

I knew that as much as I didn't want to walk the path of foster care, that that was what God wanted us to do. We started getting revelations physically and they were happening one after the other, fast.

We had friends call us (who we haven't talked to in a long time) who foster children, stating that "You guys should foster. You've got that farm. What a great place for children who need to be nurtured and loved to grow up."  (She had no idea we were praying about fostering.)

We got a huge revelation from an amazing family who have walked these lines for years and had some great wisdom to share. They called us one Sunday morning and asked if we wanted company later that day and if they could park their camper on our property for the night so we could talk foster care. We have so much in common with this family, I was floored. We said yes (of coarse) and stayed up til 11:00 p.m. asking questions and getting more and more affirmation about foster care. We made some new friends and for that, we were thankful!

I was spending some deep time in prayer, begging God for answers. I opened up to Psalm 128. {Sigh}

Went to the thrift store and a book seemed to call out to me. "Created to Be God's Friend" by Henry Blackaby. It's the story of Abraham and his obedience. {gulp}  Same author as "Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God".

I had a friend who disagrees with foster care and adoption, wanting families to be together all the time and threatened that if we went into foster care, we could no longer be friends. While my heart ached to lose that friend, the Lord reminded me that sometimes He takes people out of our lives for a reason because He is trying to accomplish something in our lives. His will must go forth.

I read in "Created to Be God's Friend" that very week "Sometimes God has to 'remove' others from our lives, so He can continue His purposes for our lives." Before John the Baptist was beheaded, he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) "Will God have to remove someone from your life to have total access to you?" - Blackaby.

Since the Lord began revealing that week, a friend from the city invited me to her house to meet yet another foster mama, have dinner together and have a time of anointing and prayer. We prayed so long and hard that night. I was able to get more questions answered and left more confident than ever. God was working! We had talked about "testing the spirits" that night and in my hour and a half drive home, that's what the sermon was about.

Psalm 23 has been ABUNDANT lately. Everywhere I go! Sermon at church. Sermon on the radio. In books. In sewing patterns even! (We are getting sheep in a few weeks so this girl is excited to get a hands-on feel for shepherding.)

A rekindled relationship with a family member is mending and come to find out, this individual has been praying for a year that we be open to foster care.

On the phone with a good friend in this same week, come to find out that they have decided to foster children. Our kids are close and so this gives them the ability to talk about their feelings together through this whole process.

I love how God blesses in the little things. He is such a personal God!

I had taken my sister to a doctor appointment also that week (mom was great to keep the kids) and after a fun lunch together, we hit a thrift store. I hesitated to walk into the baby section, but went ahead anyway. I looked down at one point and saw some baby bedding. (The one thing we were lacking in the nursery.)

It was Beatrix Potter!

Exactly what we had decorated the nursery with. Of coarse. The funny part was that everything was in TWO'S. Two baby quilts, two window valances, two crib bumpers, etc. Either, we're getting twins or the Lord is supplying one for adoption and one for foster care.

We never 100% understood why the Lord brought the homeless family to us (who was living out of our camper over a year ago), but now we can see that God was giving us a glimpse into some of the future families we may be working with, setting goals with, praying with and ministering to.  I am thankful for that glimpse.

After all of the revelations to foster, Robbie and I decided that we would take our name out of the adoption agency and complete the foster care paperwork and workshops, in obedience to God. Our hearts were being so torn to minister to these families and we pulled our name out of adoption with willing hearts, on a new mission.

I had it in my mental to-do list to call our agency the following morning and cancel, when right after breakfast, my phone rang. It was our agency. They were calling to say that we were next on the list! My jaw dropped and I was speechless. Either God was testing us, like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit's nose, or He was blessing us for our obedience. How were we to know what to do?!!

I prayed. Although I appreciated the encouragement of others, I had to have some solitary time with God and talk this over with my husband. We talked. A lot. The pressure of having to raise enough funds for this adoption was now back. We went with the least expensive agency in Florida and an agency that has an orphanage on site with some really amazing people behind it!

So, with this new information, how were we to know what to do? God was calling us to foster and now this!

{Part 2 to follow...stay tuned!}

No comments: