Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village who walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “ Nope, only babies”.
Four years ago, our family decided to become a foster family for newborns. This is how that works: When a birth mom has coordinated with the our social services agency/social worker and decides that she would like to give her baby up for adoption, our job is to pick up the newborn from the hospital and take care of him/her until an adoptive family is found. We are the transition home from birth mom to forever family.
While I felt led by God to pursue the path to fostering, I truly had no idea how much it would change me.
We met our first foster baby in June 2009 at USA Women and Children's Hospital in Mobile. I remember meeting and talking with the birth mother as she tried to reassure herself (and us) that she was making the right choice for her baby. Looking into her eyes, I could see her soul struggling with a mix of anguish, resolve and peace. I stood amazed at her bravery and courage.
Meeting our family seemed to help calm her as well. She needed to know that she was giving all control and care over to someone who was capable and also excited about her baby. She made me reassure her that I had a car seat for the baby for the ride home and she wanted to know how many children of our own we had.
And then I got to hold him. Don't you love the way newborns are so limp and non-resistant and just mold to your arms? I immediately fell in love with this little innocent soul that I didn't yet know. The birth mom tearfully kissed him goodbye and we began our first adventure as foster parents.
He was a typical newborn; crying when he was wet or hungry and sleeping for only two hours at a time. I was exhausted. But I never forgot for one moment how monumental my role in his life was, so I kept going. I bonded with him in the same way I bonded with my own children. I don't know if I could have loved him more if he had grown inside of me. It really didn't matter. When he looked at me with those beautiful dark eyes, I was a goner. He will be a part of my heart forever.
The average time for a newborn placement in the transition home until the time they meet with their adoptive family is 2-3 weeks. When we bring the babies home, we don't know the exact date the adoptive family will get them. Our second foster baby was with us for six weeks; our third for two weeks, and our fourth for three months. For Thomas, our first foster baby, I got a call from the social worker about two weeks later to tell me the adoptive family was ready to meet him, so the placement date was set for the following week.
Despite my own impending sadness about no longer having him in our home, I knew that the adoptive family was absolutely giddy with excitement over meeting their new son. I sent them pictures via email and talked to them on the phone. I made a "Life Book" for them, with pictures and notes about his feeding patterns and his favorite ways to be held.
When we took the baby down to meet his forever family for the first time---oh my goodness---the pure joy on the new parents' faces when they first held him!! Priceless!!! I didn’t know it was possible to cry that much in a moment of joy!
So precious. So rewarding.
Friends ask me all the time, "How can you do that? Give them up? I couldn't do that. I would be too attached to let them go." Well, you know what? I do get attached. I cried for a week after our first foster baby left. Our latest foster baby was with us for three months and was seriously ill for most of that time. Talk about bonding time. I held him more than I held my own when they were that small. I still grieve for him. I find myself listening for each baby after they leave, as I had become so tuned in to their every whimper and coo. I go into every room of the house feeling like I forgot something. But I also have perspective, and I know what my role is. I know that we are giving the babies the absolute best start in life we can and that our love and care will make a difference in the success of these children. It's not about me. It's not about my needs. It is about the baby. It is about the joy that comes from being used by God.
And fostering has opened my eyes to the role our earthly life has as well. Earth is our transition home. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you are already adopted. You just haven't had the placement date for meeting Him face to face announced yet.
I believe our time here on earth is in preparation for that meeting; for our time and role in Heaven. Our earthly family is, in a way, our foster family, allowing us, if you are so blessed, to be loved and get the best possible start in life until we move on to our eternal home.
What joy we are sure to see in His face when that "placement" day comes!
"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!" Ephesians 1:5