Back in the spring 2007 I went through a 12 week training course to become a Foster parent. My thought behind this training was, if I could help someone every now and then…every now and then mind you… who may need a break from their Foster child on the weekends. Or if I had a Foster child while working full time I wrote out the specifics. On my list was to be a Foster parent for a baby girl not school age yet, perhaps12 to 14 months would be great and minimal health issues that would keep us in the doctor’s office & hospital visits. I felt as long as “baby girl” didn’t have this long health history with the Lord’s help I could handle it. I even contacted a few Day Care providers like was recommended to prepare in advance and not be taken by surprise when I received a late night or early morning call.
I was called numerous times by Cook and Lake Counties, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Whenever I received a call I was not ready mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Especially after talking to others who are or had been Foster parents and hearing their foster children horror stories. Initially, I was good and returned calls to DCFS and explained this was not a good time for one reason or another. This went on for quite some time and then I began to ignore the calls. Actually I just stop returning the calls after hearing the voice message when I came home from work. I thought to myself they (DCFS representative) will figure it when I don’t return the calls. There were and still are so many children needing a temporary safe place to live is what I thought after receiving calls and Foster Care information in the mail.
Fast forward. In November 2007 I prayed a unique prayer and said to the Lord, “this year I want to do something different for you for Christmas 2007. Not the typical gifts, celebration or Christmas routine. I didn’t know what that looked liked. I didn’t have a clue. I just wanted to bless the Lord different for Christmas 2007. He has in the past and continues to be so good and faithful to me. Shortly after I prayed that prayer I received another call from DCFS around 9:00pm on December 5th 2007. This time I was at home relaxing and answered the phone. The DCFS representative asked if I could keep two boys, ages 8 and 12 overnight. By God’s grace I will never forget that call. She further explained she had called almost 30 homes was not able to place them and it was getting late. I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, not in an audible voice, but in my spirit this is what I want you to do for Christmas. Then I remembered the prayer I prayed. I asked a few questions to assess the situation as best I could. Then I said yes I will keep them overnight no problem. By 9:30pm she delivered them to my home. They arrived with nothing, but the clothes on their back. She introduced us, we talked for a few minutes and I made them some hot chocolate. Later they took a bath, I washed & dried their clothes, and then they went to bed. The next morning I got them dressed, fed them breakfast and dropped them off at the local DCFS Office. Later that day I received a call from the DCFS Representative asking me if I could keep them for a week while they investigate the situation further. I enjoyed them overnight and said yes that would be okay. Towards the end of that week I received another call asking if I would keep them through Spring break. Again I said yes. I received another call around Spring break requesting another date until the end of the school year. The first seven months with the boys were very difficult. I had to adjust to them and they had to adjust to me in my home. Many times I prayed alone and with others crying out to the Lord to give me wisdom, strength, peace, patience and love. That was about 19 months ago when I began the journey of being a Single Foster mother.
I never envisioned being on this Foster parent journey for any significant amount of time. I’m sure if the Lord would have told me or revealed to me the extent of my commitment I would have found many excuses to say no not me a single parent for this length of time. Why? My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I grew up with Mother doing most everything for us. I was the oldest of three girls and had a lot of responsibility. I made up in my mind a long time ago I would not be a single parent under any circumstances by God’s grace. Sometimes I feel like Job, one of the things I feared the most (being a single parent) has come upon me. And yet He continues to give me strength for this journey day by day, week by week, month by month. Since I don’t have children of my own I always tell the boys I love them like my own sons.
I thought I counted the cost before embarking on this journey. Honestly this journey has come with challenges, very little sleep and some sleepless nights, long days, tons of paper work, transportation issues, changing school districts, IEPs, tears, fears, exhaustion, and even joy.
Joy because I see how they have grown physically, spiritually and emotionally since having them in my home. Also I have grown and learned more about myself. I thought I was a pretty patient person and easy to get along with for the most part. Living alone for so many years, I was use to my space and environment being a certain way. I didn’t have to cook if I didn’t want to. I would just eat a bagel, baked potato or a bowl of cereal when I didn’t feel like cooking. Laundry was done about every other week. Maybe I would wash the dishes once a week when I cooked. Most of all I have learned what it means to really cast my cares upon the Lord daily for two boys that are my sons temporarily. The lessons I have learned being a Single Foster mother I probably would have not learned anywhere else. The Lord says to me, I must love them the way He loves me with grace and mercy even when they don’t deserve it. Yes I have wanted to quit many times. Actually I tried to quit and gave a date to DCFS, but our God is so awesome He gives me a break when I feel I’m at the end of my rope and about to fall down. The Lord has used my immediate family, church family, and friends to come along side and help me in times of need. It’s even precious when the boys realize I need a break. They don’t want to hear me or see me being cranky. And I don’t want to have that kind of testimony. When they leave my home I want to have demonstrated for them my genuine love for the Lord. And as best they can I want them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind. I also want them to know my home is a place of love and peace and God’s presence is there not chaos.
I praise God for bringing them in my life and using me in their lives. I didn’t want to take this journey however He knows what’s best for me. More than anything I want to do His will and hear him say “well done good and faithful daughter you have completed what I required of you”.
Where does your journey find you today? Are you embracing it or running away? Philippians 4:13 reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. As I reflect on when I was at my most vulnerable point I was not relying on His strength but my own strength. The boys have now memorized this scripture and I remind them to say it and believe when they are struggling with school, activities, etc. Another scripture they have memorized because often times they have been afraid of the dark is 2nd Timothy 1:7, the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. I hope both scriptures will encourage you on your journey today. All the while remembering that the best is yet to come.
Contributing Author of WOVEN