When God led us to foster, Steve and I thought that doing respite would be best for us. Both of us have elderly parents in other states and we needed some flexibility to just go if we needed to. As we went through our training, we found out that this was actually one of their biggest needs.
What is respite?
When a foster family needs to leave town or needs a break for any reason, they must find a certified home to place their foster child in. Family/friends can not watch them while you are gone. So, it can be a struggle. If you can't take your foster child with you, for what ever reason, and you can't find a certified home for them to go to...then you can't go.
I have kept 3 babies now for respite and have learned a few things....
**I had no idea what God was actually calling me to until I was IN it
** I didn't realize my heart could love so many children so FULLY...like they were mine.
**I didn't realize how completely overwhelmed I would be by the honor to pray over them each day.
** I didn't realize how fully engaged my whole family would be. I knew I would be doing the bulk of the care, but what a blessing to see each member of my family engage and literally fall in love with baby J.
**I didn't realize that in providing just respite, my heart would hurt so badly when they left and my arms would feel so empty.
For the benefit of foster parents around you, I need to give you some advice...
..advice I wish I had been given before God called me to this...
..because I have said these very words....
Please, please when talking to a foster mom NEVER say...
"oh wow..I couldn't do it. I just couldn't give them up"
Though you don't mean it...
...what you are saying is "it must not be as hard for you because you are doing it." Saying that completely minimizes the pain that foster parents go through each and every time they have to let go of a child they have loved as their own.
If it doesn't hurt when you let them go....then you haven't loved them fully.
And they deserve to be FULLY loved.
God calls us to be willing to sacrifice for Him.
Not just serve Him out of our convenience.
And the only way that we (foster moms) get through the pain of letting go of a child, whether we've had them for 10 days or 2 years, is through Christ. Knowing we are obediently doing what He called us to do. Knowing that the love and security we provide these children far out weighs the hurt we are going to feel in the end.
But it still hurts.
So, please pray for the foster families around you.
Maybe even pray openly and ask God if He is calling YOU to these children.
And next time a foster mom you know has to give up a child.....
....give her a hug.
Tell her you are praying for her.
Just recognize her pain and know it's not in any way easy.
Today, my heart is hurting and my arms feel empty.
But I wouldn't trade it.