Some good friends of ours recently signed up as a foster family for three young kids and I know its a bit voyeuristic of us to be watching them as much as we have, but there really is nothing quite like the transition a family goes through when they open up their home to a new child, especially one that they will likely not be able to keep as their own. I just cannot help myself but to want to ask them questions and see how things are going.
This past week, I had a chance to sit down with Steve and talk with him about some of the trials they are facing as a family and how they are holding it all together.
You see this family already has four children of their own, and so the decision to take in three more…. Yeah, it really puts things over the top. They went from big family to circus act overnight.
Anyhow, Steve and I were talking about things as we sat on his porch late at night, just before kids camp got going and I began to press in, trying to find out how he really was feeling.
“But, really…” I pushed.
“How are you holding up?”
He paused for a while and then began.
“Its a lot like things normally are, only more intense” He stopped to look at me, searching my eyes.
“None of what we are dealing with is new, but everything is more intense.”
I nodded, waiting patiently, hoping that he would feel comfortable enough to share with me and be honest. Jessie and I have had enough foster child experiences of our own during our time with Drawn From Water in Ethiopia, that I knew there was more.
He cleared his throat and started again.
“Its sort of like all the things that are normally there underneath a normal marriage, the problems that we all have but are able to overcome in every-day life… They all come out when you add to your family like this.”
I knew just what he meant. For Jessie and I, every time we brought a child into our home the same old battles would surface, the ones that we thought we were past a long time ago.
Steve leaned towards me.
“But do you know what gets me the most?” He asked, a frustration forming in his voice.
“What?” I asked.
“The other day, I was talking with a friend and he said to me that he and his wife were considering foster care, but decided against it because they were happy right where they are with the kids they have.”
I looked at Steve’s face, which was now starting to light up.
“I mean, yes this is hard, but we do it for the kids, we do it because of who Jesus is, we do it because we want to serve him with our lives, and teach our children to do the same. Not because we wanted some more kids! It already feels like we are camp counselors every day of the week with our own four!”
The thing about this conversation is that he is exactly right, to care for orphans is not fun, you don’t do it because of what others think of you, or what you get out of it, or the money, or the fame. Yes having a new child, or many new children under your roof is complicated and frustrating and often brings out the worst in you…
We do it for Him. Nothing can or should, be added or taken away from that statement.
He is the reason.