If there’s one thing predictable about foster care, it’s that it is completely unpredictable.
The Stewarts* received a placement, and as time moved on, it looked like the children were going to be available for them to adopt. The family began the process emotionally and logistically to move toward making the girls, Emily and Karen, a permanent part of the Stewart family. The court date was set and all looked to be moving forward in the direction of adoption.
Nonetheless, as things often do in the child welfare space, things changed.
The Stewarts, who had cared for the girls for over a year, were told they would be returning to their biological mom.
The news was wrapped up in all kinds of emotions, but for the foster parents, their decision to foster and attitude toward everything were never about their own hopes and instead were always focused on selflessly loving these girls well … so this transition would be no different.
When it came time for Emily and Karen to move back home, the Stewarts specifically requested that the transition not be facilitated by a county employee and instead offered to pack up the girls belongings and make the drive themselves. They wanted the girls to feel comfortable and loved during each and every step along the way, especially in this final transition home.
In the meantime, it was brought to the attention of the Stewarts that Emily and Karen’s biological mom, Monique, had a birthday coming up. Again, wanting Emily and Karen to feel loved, the Stewarts brought Monique a birthday gift. This simple and seemingly small gesture was met with big tears and emotions, as it had been years since Monique had anyone even acknowledge her birthday.
It’s hard to foster. It’s hard to love children selflessly and then let go when they return home. And it’s even harder to intentionally be cheerleaders for a process so difficult. Yet, that’s what God calls us to do. He calls us to reflect His love and His grace, despite how hard it is. And in that one day in the life of the Stewarts, they not only helped Emily and Karen with the transition for their sake but also celebrated their mom as a precious and loved child of God.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
*All names and identifying details have been changed to for the privacy and protection of the children and families involved with the child welfare system.
-- Heather Werle