Monday, August 12, 2013
On Friday morning, we said goodbye to our first foster placement. The total placement time was less than two weeks, but it felt like a lifetime. The first couple of days were touch and go, as months of training theory became practice and we tried to sort through every facet of our interaction with her (not to mention her interaction with our other kids). But after those first 48 hours, it became real for all of us... ordinary, almost. Life resumed it's usual pace and away we went as a family of six. It's incredible how quickly she became "our own". Just another kid to dress in the morning. Another plate at the table. Another child to nurture, guide, and fill with love as we went about our day. The feeling of being in cruise control came much quicker than I thought it would. The usual suspects, plus one. Business as usual.
To say that God was gracious with our first placement would probably be the understatement of the year. The entire stay went well enough that you would have thought it was scripted. Don't get me wrong, it was no walk in the park. Holding our family together for those 11 days was work! But for every possible scenario that we could have drawn up or dreamed of for our first foster placement, this experience definitely gets put in the category of "tame". The good news is, we're smart enough to know that they probably won't all go so well; but to have a good experience right out the gate was some seriously good fortune. The timing also could not have been more perfect. It was the first major break of our school year (we homeschool year round), probably my least demanding week of work all year; and for every other reason I can possibly think of, just a perfect fit into our life's calendar. I'm also willing to bet that this will be the shortest placement we'll ever have, which is good since it gave us an opportunity to get our feet wet before having to dive in head first with a (more likely) long term placement. It was a chance to begin learning about ourselves and digest what these experiences are going to bring to our family. A gut check. A low-stakes dress rehearsal and a chance to look at each other in the eye and say, are you sure you're ready for this? Because it was so short, we barely had to change our routine at all. Eleven days is short enough that we were essentially able to put our lives on pause, give it our all, take a few days to rest when she left, and press play on Monday as if nothing ever happened. Back to school, back to business, back to work, and back to life as our kids know it. But any placement longer than two weeks and that approach goes out the window. We'll have to learn to integrate our foster kids into our everyday lives. The show must go on, and we get that. But boy, being able to just press pause this time around was a Godsend if I've ever seen one.
As for her departure, despite what I'd call a fantastic experience all around, oddly enough I can't say
that it was particularly sad, or heart-wrentching or anything along those lines. On the other hand, I wasn't happy to see her go, either. If I had to choose a word, I'd guess it would be "gratifying". While we could have gotten wrapped up in the details of her home situation, or the pros and cons of her short stay with us; it all seemed to be easily overshadowed by one simple point: we met a need... and we were obedient to the mandate that God had (so obviously) put on our lives to be foster / adoptive parents. At that felt good. I can't say that I'm obedient (let alone diligent and delighted) with God's every call on my life, but I can say that whenever I am in his will for our family, it's obvious. The comfort and level of fulfillment that He lends to us in those moments of complete submission simply leave me scratching my head as to why we can't learn to serve, follow, and submit to his will in every other aspect of our lives. I guess those head scratching moments are the "joys" of being mortal... and infinitely stubborn.
I smile and laugh when I think about her first day with us and contrast that with the little girl that left us just 11 days later. Anyone who would dare say that you can't impact a life in 11 short days has never spent those days with a high energy 3-year-old ball of spunk that wanted nothing more than to be loved and adored. I'm also willing to bet that we learned just as much about ourselves and our family as she did about us in that short slice of time that she was here. Granted, unless we decide to stay in touch, the odds are slim that she will even remember this experience when she grows up. Three short days later, it's already a blur to our own trio of munchkins. But that doesn't take away a single ounce of the gratification I felt in my heart as her case worker pulled out of our driveway with her in the backseat. God placed it in our hearts to be foster and adoptive parents. And for 11 days we loved that little girl as best we could. I haven't a clue what seeds we planted and whether they'll grow, or how her particular story will end. But we met a need. And we're ready for the opportunity to meet many more. Exciting times.