I'll never forget the day it all changed for me. My greatest fear, like so many others who are considering venturing down the beautiful yet tumultuous path of foster care, was not whether or not I could love a child that was not my own but whether or not I could handle letting a child go that I have grown to love as my own. I couldn't get beyond this concern, and couldn't move forward because of it. I shared my fear with a friend who was a foster dad at the time, and his response both challenged and settled me. It revealed to me that my concerns were backwards, centered on me and how I might feel rather than on the child and how they do feel.
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orphan care and the gospel
We settled into our seats in the food court at the mall when out of the corner of my eye I noticed it happening again. Her eyes bounced back and forth from my 2 year old daughter to me then back to my daughter then back to me, each time causing her brow to wrinkle in greater curiosity and her mind to visibly race with more questions. I'd seen it happen a hundred times and knew exactly what was thinking - Is that her dad? Is she his daughter? He's white. She's, well, not really. He's very bald. Her afro is cute and crazy out of control.
We met her for the first time in a downtown courtroom - the same place we would see her for the last time nearly one year later. Although we most likely will never know her beyond that, a piece of her will always be a part of us - literally. It was the first court hearing since her baby girl had been removed from her custody by Child Protective Services and placed in our care a few weeks earlier.
When I was nine years old I learned that the man I had grown up knowing as Dad was actually not my biological father. While this naturally produced many questions in me, it certainly answered one that had always confused me - "Why do I look nothing like my dad?" Now, I knew why.
There are certain things in churches we can create that people will participate in - i.e. worship services, pot-luck dinners, small groups, children's ministries and basketball leagues. Whether God is in those activities or not is irrelevant to our ability to implement them and expect participation. Of course, the hope is that God is in them, and that lives are changed as a result of them.
As lawyers, case workers and court clerks scurried around the court room, we sat waiting - ignorant of the process but eager to see it end. We assumed our role would be minimal, more as a silent presence than an active participant. We were wrong.
It was trial day. Nearly a year had gone by since a beautiful 3 day old baby girl was brought to our house by child protective services.