Our most recent emergency/temporary foster placement was a 4-year-old girl who in a 5 minute span, asked me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” twice, asked me “who called you” and told me she “didn’t like it here”.
She was in our home for approximately 36 hours. She came after midnight with a small trash bag of dirty, smelly, stained, ill-fitting clothing and a few stuffed animals to which she didn’t seem particularly attached. The department also brought one of those care packages that non-profits and churches have been giving lately. It’s a large, pink sack with a child-sized blanket and pillow, some new toiletries, notebook, crayons, small toys and new stuffed animals.
She also had 4 clean adult-sized pull-ups with her because she was so heavy that even the largest child’s pull-up wouldn’t fit her.
When we get these calls, as I did at 9:45pm on an average, busy summer evening, I was already a little hyped up. We had gotten another call at 8:15pm while arriving to pick up my oldest son and his friend from soccer camp. So, call number one was for a 3-year-old boy, 5-year-old girl sibling set. I pointed out to the placement worker all the ways that we would be going outside of department rules to take them. She said she wanted me to call my husband anyway. And that she would call her team leader and make sure it was doable. She said she would call me in an hour.
I spoke with my friend when I dropped off her son and let her know that we could be getting kids in the middle of the night and asked if she could do the morning run to the day camp our boys were attending. Of course, she graciously said she would.
The hour came and went and I texted the original worker who had called and asked if they had found a place for the 2 children. She said they had but that she was about to call me about a 4-year-old girl.
When she called, I heard the details and my heart started to break a little.
They arrived from a county an hour away about 12:30am. She was a beautiful, biracial child. I was able to get her to sleep by 1:30am.
I, however, laid on the couch, praying and trying to sleep. I cried out to God. And the most common question for me is “why Lord?” Why does it get to this point? This child clearly needed an intervention in her care years ago. At 4 years old she weighed more than my almost 9-year-old son. I was sick. It’s not fair. I admit, I do try to love and pray for birth parents. And I am fully committed to bio families staying together. Even if that’s an aunt and uncle or grandparents. I want any child to be able to stay connected with their family of origin.
But. This is not okay.
By the time she was crying herself to sleep the second night, she was saying all kinds of things to me. Asking all kinds of questions that I cannot answer. “When will I see my mommy again?” “Why am I here?”
Chris, Foster, Katie and I spent an hour debriefing the past hours while she cried herself to sleep. We had to ask ourselves hard questions. And it’s not just as easy as “we’ll keep her and make her better”. We have to trust what God shows us. We have to trust how he’s built our original family and how he’s equipped each of us.
Placement let me know this morning that they found her a permanent placement. The description sounded like exactly what she will need.
I fell on my knees before God. Thanking him for continuing to do a work in me and my family. For shaking us to our core with a front row seat of this pain and brokenness and reminding us to be wary of our pride and feeling like our family is the place, with the answers, for every child. Because there is only One who can truly have those answers. As much as I want to minister and serve these precious children and families, my greater desire is to never get in the way of what God is trying to do in their lives.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.