It was a Wednesday. We received a call from our foster care agency at 3:30 in the afternoon – a newborn baby girl had been taken into custody by Child Protective Services at the hospital and was in need of placement. “Are you interested?”, they asked. Of course we are.
By 7:30 that evening they were at our front door, holding a tragically fragile little girl who needed a home to live in and a family to love her.
It was the best and worst day of her life.
She was wholly unaware of all that had transpired in her short 3-day life. Tragedy, abuse and brokenness brought her to our front door. Hope, love and healing welcomed her in. While we celebrated the opportunity to care for her, we also ached over the reality that someone had put her in a position of needing to be protected in the first place. Two years later, it’s now our joy to call her our daughter and to hear her call us her Momma and Dadda; it’s also our heartache that any of this ever had to happen in the first place.
EQUAL PARTS GOOD AND BAD
Everything…everything about foster care is equal parts good and bad, joy and sorrow, beauty and brokenness. It’s a good day when a child is placed in your home. It represents safety, security and an opportunity for a child to be loved and cared for in a way they likely would not have had available to them otherwise. It’s indeed a good day when a child is placed in your home – it’s also a really bad day. It’s a day marked by hurt and brokenness, that while so much gain has been made available to a child, it’s ultimately loss that has led them to that point. Generational cycles of brokenness within families have perpetuated themselves now into the lives of the next generation – abuse, neglect and abandonment have become a part of their stories. They didn’t ask for this, it was unjustly handed to them by those who were most responsible to protect them from the very things they’ve now been harmed by.
While the opportunity to love these kids is good, no doubt the circumstances that brought them to us are probably very, very bad. This is where the call to foster care begins, what it exposes us to and the perspective it demands we keep in order to rightly and lovingly care for vulnerable kids.
THEIR TRAGEDY OVER OUR EAGERNESS
As excited as we may be about fostering kids, they certainly aren’t excited about being foster kids. Our personal sense of excitement does not drive our efforts. Their personal tragedy does. Heartache does. A desire to see good come out of bad does. A willingness to embrace what is broken and do whatever it takes to bring healing does.
Celebrate the opportunity to open your homes to kids in need, knowing that if it be for just a few days or an entire lifetime, you’ve been given the unique opportunity to offer them something special – love. Yet at the same time, never let your excitement about being involved in foster care be separated from the heartache you feel over the tragic reality that something like foster care even has to exist in the first place.
Jason Johnson is the husband to Emily, a dad to four girls (youngest adopted in 2013), a pastor for 13 years, a former church planter and now the Church Engagement Officer and creator of the ALL IN Orphan Care Church & Ministry Campaign with the Arrow Foundation—an organization committed to equipping, resourcing, and mobilizing the Church to help kids and strengthen families around the country. You can follow his ministry at Jasonjohnsonblog.com and find this post originally published on that blog here.