"Oh I could never foster, it would just be too hard on my heart. I would get too attached and be heartbroken if they left."
I can't count how many times kind-hearted folks have said these lines to me the past two years.
My response has evolved but essentially I want to say this: Yes. That's absolutely right. You get attached and your heart breaks.
But don't deny yourself that gift, that joy, that opportunity.
And more importantly, don't deny a child a love that would be so intense as to break your heart. Isn't it a tragedy to think of such a love lying untapped? While so many children stand in the midst of chaos, wondering where they belong?
Isn't it the case that Jesus took on the sorrows of the world on the cross, bore our burdens, and knew rejection because of love?
What I'm realizing more and more on this journey is that the heart-break is a gift.
And I also tell them this: You're right. You might not be able to do it. Neither can I. That's the essence of life in Christ. Why would we claim reliance on a Savior if we reject opportunities to actually rely on him when we are absolutely being torn apart. That's precisely when He promises to be our strength.
My awareness of my need for the Lord is never greater than in these moments of helplessness.
I do not believe every family should foster. It can be strenuous and difficult and messy. But I do believe many have the room in their hearts and homes to serve in this way and fill a major gap that currently exists. If the fear of loving too much or the fear of ending up brokenhearted is truly what drives many families to discount fostering as a viable option, may the Lord push our hearts forward into the realm of the unknown. These are exactly the families that need to be fostering. Hurting children caught in the midst of a furious storm need those safe-haven homes to step into and be loved while their storms settle.
I know what it's like to get a dreaded call, cry while you pack a baby's bag and set it by the front door. I've counted down the minutes until I had to say goodbye. I've written that baby a note about his worth and strength that I had hoped someone would show him one day. As I walked around the house I noticed the tiny things that would be left behind as heartbreaking memories, but couldn't deny they made our home all the more beautiful.
(But, as it turned out, those people who came to the door made an unexpected decision and never took him away. I unpacked that bag back into his little drawers, and I slipped that note into his baby book to read to him myself one day. He's forever my boy now.)
I think the reality is that while many of us fear the heartbreak, what we might fear even more are all the unknowns associated with bringing a stranger into our homes. In fostering and adoption we are forced to live open-handed. We are forced to open our doors to brokenness. If we really think about it, it's not our own heartbreak we most fear, but welcoming another person's broken heart in. But that's precisely what can lead us to some of the most meaningful work we'll ever encounter.
Kristian recently had the opportunity to speak at our church on the topic of adoption. It was a blessing for me to hear his powerful words and be reminded of the purpose behind all this. If you're interested, listen or watch here.