September 8, 2014
My childhood was secure and happy and safe. I value that about my childhood. I think back with fondness on those years, and am thankful to my parents for providing that for my sister and me.
When we were taking our classes to be licensed for foster care, we talked a lot about what causes some families to disrupt, which is when a family asks CPS to please move their foster child to another home. Sometimes it is because of serious issues, like when the foster child acts out violently or sexually towards the biological children. Sometimes it is because the day-to-day irritations and difficulties just become too much, and sometimes it is because the parents feel that it is too hard on their biological kids, that it is having a negative effect on them. When I would hear about those situations (the less-serious ones), I would think “Come ON. Life’s hard, kids are hard. Have a little patience, show a little grace, and teach your kids to do the same. Don’t kick a needy child out of your home because life is a little harder than you would like it to be.”
Well, I have no intention of kicking our girl out of our home. I intend to love and care for her as long as she requires us. But wow, I am a lot more sympathetic towards those families that disrupt. It is amazing how little irritations can grate on you. When I tell someone about one of her epic tantrums, or about some conflict that developed between us, it’s almost funny to try to explain how it started. The big issues are hard, of course, but we face those head-on and deal with them. It’s the small stuff, the absolutely constant small stuff, that adds up alarmingly and can feel defeating.
Those things frustrate me, but I can deal. (Well, if you read my last post, you know that’s not always true…But for the MOST part, I can deal.) I’m an adult, and I’m in charge. More than that, I trust the Lord, and I trust that He led us to do this, and will supply the strength we need to keep at it. But then one of my sons admits that he is beginning to really struggle with having her around. And I watch her shout at them and boss them and take all their stuff like she deserves it while refusing to share anything of hers with them, and I feel this heavy, dark doubt inside me. I don’t express it to my boys. To them I explain some of the reasons she is the way she is, and how God has called us to love all people–even the difficult ones (especially the difficult ones?)–and I encourage them that He will give them love for her when they feel they don’t have any. And I tell them how wonderful I think they are and I thank them for being so patient with her.
But I think about my own childhood, secure and happy and safe. To some extent, I’ve taken that away from my boys. I’ve added an element of stress to their lives, stress that is constantly chipping away at them, that never lets them go. And I keep wondering if that’s okay, and I start daydreaming about how much easier life would be without her.
Then I think of her, and the childhood she has experienced so far. Nothing about hers has been secure, happy or safe. It’s been none of those things, which is why she’s with us. Our home is one of the only places she has consistently experienced those things, and I am shamed when I think how easily my thoughts cast her aside. In my desire to provide a happy childhood to my biological children, would I deny it to another child who desperately needs it?
My heart is burdened every day–for her, for her family, and for my own kids. And my heart is heavy every day for what has been lost. But I also know that God has not called us to a life of ease and leisure, but of sacrifice and love. And I will continue to trust that God will cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him, that He will use life’s difficulties to refine us, and that those promises hold true for my children as well. And I hope that in the end, after we’ve poured ourselves out to serve and love her, what has been lost will be seen as nothing to what has been gained.