“Well, don’t you want your own kids? Cause he definitely doesn’t look like you, and you’ve been married for a while now … can you guys not have kids or something?” I smiled back at the curious stranger across from me as they continued to ask questions and share their thoughts about the path we had chosen – foster care. I took a second and looked down to give a little chuckle because to be honest, foster care wasn’t our “plan A” either. I looked back at this young woman across from me and said, “this has been a hard, grueling time for us but you know, God is here with us. His plans have been sweeter than our own.” “Well, I guess I just don’t get it,” the young woman said in response.
I left that conversation realizing how different our lives must look to the world. My husband and I have desired to adopt since before we met in 2015. We both had rhythms in our lives that involved orphans and caring for children but it wasn’t until 2017 when we finally began to talk about starting a family. Over the course of a couple of months, we kept having random interactions with people who had fostered and adopted and they encouraged us to pray about opening our hearts to the idea. A few short months after we agreed to pray about it, we both sat down and said that we couldn’t deny the burden we both began to feel for fostering. Scared and unsure, we began the long journey of attending county training classes in January of 2018. After a year’s worth of education and multiple background checks and interviews, we became certified foster parents in June of 2019.
Two hours after we received the phone call that we became certified, we got our first call for placement. Six more calls came after that over a course of a few weeks but most of them needed much more medical care than we were prepared to handle. Finally, on August 8th, 2019, we received a call for a six-month-old baby boy. We prayed and felt immeasurable peace in our hearts that we could take him in. He came to us at ten o’clock that evening with just his car seat and diaper bag in tote. This experience was nothing short of an amazing privilege but equally, one of the hardest seasons of our lives.
You see, foster care cannot be this romanticized idea – it is a brutally hard and broken reality for these littles. They are removed from the only “home” they know and placed into a stranger’s care. The system works hard to work quickly at reunification but it is flawed, and at times … it fails. We very quickly came into an understanding of how hard it was to be caring for another person’s child.
Within one week, we received false allegations of child abuse that were completely devastating and rocked us to our core. We had to deal with threats and be sure that we weren’t being followed. We had investigators come unannounced at our door to ask us questions. The sacrifices kept building and building; our time, convenience, privacy, rest were quickly being depleted.
Upon sharing my struggle among close friends, one friend looked at me and said, “I know this feels new and overwhelming but it isn’t new for him [our foster son] … you’ve just entered into his chaos.” What a picture of the cross! Philippians 2:6-8 says, Jesus,
“who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He
humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death
on a cross.”
Our God sent His Son, Jesus, to enter into our chaos – to be the rescue we needed but couldn’t provide for ourselves. Verse six tells us that He, “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant …” What a humbling thought! When I reflect on this small and short passage of scripture, I find His sweet grace wash over me all over again. My Holy, worthy, & beautifully sinless Savior entered my chaos and emptied Himself out … for me … and for you. And for our foster son!
Though our little is now home and reunited with his first family (previously termed in the foster world as “bio family”), we are continually seeing the fruit that God has birthed in us through our first foster care experience. We’ve grown in the fruits of self-control and patience. Most of all, I have seen His grace grow us in long-suffering. I would do it all again to gain Christ.
In writing to the Philippian church, Paul perfectly pens what my heart sings. He says in chapter one, verse eight that he counts “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” Knowledge of Jesus gained through hardship is never wasted, is never in vain, and is never empty. Praise Him! The sacrifices our family was called to in order to protect and love our little was unique in its mounting circumstances but covered with God’s provision and grace.
Ultimately, the goal of any foster care situation is permanence – even if that means it costs us our own stability. As we pray and plan for our future, we anticipate littles coming and going amidst God growing our biological family. Our plans will change just as seasons do but by His grace, we have found that the knowledge of Jesus and sweetness of His presence will always remain and that His plans are truly sweeter than our own.
If you have considered entering into foster care or adoption, I’d urge you to start with your own story of adoption and how Jesus lovingly and sacrificially took you into His family. Pour yourself into the Gospel and grow in seeing the beauty of all that our God has done to call us His own children through faith (Galatians 3:26)! If you are interested, this book has been particularly helpful in our foster care journey!
Post by Vanessa Messinger
Vanessa is a wife, registered nurse, & forever student of the Word. She is passionate about helping others grow into their identity in Christ and building toward kingdom of God!