“I am so weary…” is the text message I received this morning from one of my best friends as she was in tears sharing about the situation with her current [foster] children. As I reflect on foster care, I believe becoming weary is a very true statement for all involved: the biological family, the foster family, the child welfare system and especially these precious children, created by God for a purpose, that didn’t choose any of this. At Kensington Clarkston we talk a lot about being a “Family on Mission,” but what if we took a step back and looked at family AS our mission? Family is the heart of God and the core of foster care. These children have their family of origin and they temporarily become part of our families, too. It can be very blurry in the brokenness, but there are also glimpses of beauty.
I will never forget that late warm summer night when we received a knock on our front door. I opened it to greet a Child Protective Services employee holding a small bag and a beautiful, curly haired, brown-eyed baby girl – our first foster daughter. She was tired after spending the entire day in a DHHS office. She had recently had her first birthday, then a few days later, was ripped away from her mom and family. This little stranger was so timid and afraid when she came to us. Can you even imagine? My heart broke as I read her paperwork, I scooped her up and held her so close. I spent that entire night wide awake, full of tears, praying over her (and for her mother) and telling her: “everything will be okay, you are safe here.”
It didn’t take long for that little stranger to become a child we grew to know and love like our own. The most common statement I hear from others when I am asked about foster care is, “I could never do that, I would get too attached.” Believe me, we get very attached to these children. It puts our hearts in an inexplicable tension that you can’t comprehend unless you step into this role, but these children are worth the risk to our hearts. They deserve a home where they know they are safe, loved, advocated for and can experience attachment, these are vital to their development and among the greatest gifts we as their [foster] family can give.
We have been blessed with three amazing sons, but after multiple miscarriages in a row my heart longed for one more child. After our final loss in January 2017, our eyes were opened, through a series of God-ordained moments, to the 13,000+ children in the foster care system in Michigan. God continued to speak to us about opening our hearts and home. It was scary and we had a hundred reasons to say “no, this isn’t a good time,” but we chose obedience and trusted that if He was calling us into this, He would provide us the grace to do it. I vividly remember listening to the song, “Hosanna” by Hillsong and praying these lyrics: “open up my eyes to the things unseen, show me how to love like You have loved me, break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause…”
He definitely broke my heart for what broke His. I wouldn’t say we are a seasoned foster family quite yet, but we have learned so much already. I would be lying if I portrayed this as easy, it is probably one of the hardest things our family has ever walked through, but Jesus never promised an easy, comfortable life. The Bible challenges us to not only listen to His Word, but also to do what it says (James 1:22). He allows us the opportunity to step right into the most difficult and messiest places in someone else’s life and BE love. Sound familiar? Jesus has done abundantly more than that for each one of us. He steps into our most broken, vulnerable, painful places and with open arms invites us into His family with open arms. His love was absolute sacrifice – it costs His life. To know Him like this propels our hearts toward foster care. Do you sense Him inviting you into this? I challenge you to listen to Him and walk forward in obedience whatever the cost…even knowing you may become weary.
I texted my friend back and shared: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30, NIV. This verse reminds me of the hope that exists, even in our weariness. I believe God has our family and each one of these precious children in the palm of His hand. We get to trust Him with the unknowns as we take on this posture of surrender. We are part of His family and knowing that allows us to learn from Him and rest in Him.
There are many ways to become involved in foster care. For more information on becoming a foster parent visit www.fcnp.org or call 1-855-MICHKIDS. Also, please check out the House of Providence at www.thehofp.org a local organization you can partner with, volunteer, and mentor local foster youth.
Maria Roy, wife to Clarkston Lead Pastor, Jeremiah Roy
My experience in foster care includes working as a Registered Nurse at House of Providence, a therapeutic residential home for foster youth. Our family has also provided respite care (please look into this if you aren’t quite ready to become a foster family, this is a great opportunity to help), as well as fostered three children. Our first foster daughter I spoke of here was unexpectedly moved to another foster home to be with a sibling in May of this year, our second foster daughter (an infant) was a short-term emergency placement that came to us right after our first one left, and our current foster daughter (9 months old) has been with us since July. It has been an absolute privilege to carry both the grief and joy of knowing and loving each one of these children. I pray that our family can always be involved in foster care at some level and hope to foster more children in the years to come.