Did you ever just stumble upon responsibility? It wasn't something you expected, it just sort of found you or fell in your lap? Maybe you wanted it, maybe you didn't, maybe you wanted it and it didn't turn out the way you envisioned it, but it happened and now you have to deal with the responsibility. Sometimes when we have that responsibility we dread it, we complain about it, we wonder how we will manage it. We lose sleep over it and/or gain an incredible amount of stress. Sometimes everything we know and do is changed and we have to figure out how to live with this new responsibility. We struggle and fight to manage, to exist, to breath. You ask yourself "Can I really handle this responsibility?"
When God brought our son into our lives, it was a responsibility we were not looking for. Granted we knew we wanted kids and we knew we weren't going to wait to long, after marriage, to have them. We just never anticipated it would happen the way God orchestrated. Which is kind of funny to think about now, because honestly most of my life did not happen the way I planned- I hear God giggling quietly now as I type. (Ok, so maybe I should have asked Him first- His way is always better than mine anyway. Moving on...)
When our son first came to us we found ourselves taking foster parent classes through the county, we were under the impression we had to take them in order to keep him with us. So we endured 12-3 hour classes only to discover we didn't need them at all, but SURPRISE you are now licensed foster parents! Maybe I am being a bit dramatic, because my husband and I actually did discuss fostering and adopting- but again it wasn't a plan we had put into action, we were really good at talking about it before then. Here's where God's sense of humor strikes again, do you see what He did. He pushed us out of the "nest" and said "Enough talking you two. It's time to take action.You have a son, you are licensed foster parents, so now let's give you some more responsibility, I've got this 15 month old baby girl waiting just for you!"PLOP right into our heart and home. It's kind of miraculous how He works!
Because God works the way He does in our lives, it really wasn't a surprise when we got a call in September of 2012 from the county asking us if we were interested in taking in a 2 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. What? I am 37 years old, I can barely keep up with the two I have- seriously two babies in diapers?? I am lazy and tired Lord. I just got Lottie and Brent to a point where I could sleep until 8:30 and now you want me to chase two little ones, are you joking? Can I really (Can we really,) handle this responsibility? But here's the kicker folks- this beautiful boy and girl weren't just any foster kids, they were my daughter's half-siblings (they share the same mother). DUN DUN DUN! How do we say no to that? How do we turn away from this responsibility?We don't, we couldn't, we didn't.
Slight back story detour: When the 2 year old was born we went down to children services to discuss taking him into our home. We were told the agency likes to keep siblings together, so when we found out about him after the agency placed him with another foster family, we were upset to say the least. However, God had a plan and after lots of praying and discussing with the agency, we felt it was not what God wanted us to do. We felt confident that we did not want to rip him away from a family that he was already bonded with and we walked away confident and secure in our choice. A year later, we had heard a rumor that there was a second sibling born and that the mother and father were on their way to obtaining permanent custody, once again we felt we had made the right choice. So when this phone call came, we knew something was different because this time Kevin and I both felt an urgency to say yes.
My brain began to create this fantasy scenario- I began to romanticize why they were coming to us. I thought God wants them to be apart of our family, we will take them in and like Brent and Lottie we will adopt them if that option becomes available to us- bada bing, bada boom- our family will almost be complete (We would like 5 kids)! And why wouldn't the option become available to us? God was placing them with us! I was not being rational and I was NOT being realistic. My well grounded hubby on the other hand, did not have those same thoughts. If fact while I was thinking family growth he was thinking in the moment- they need a home, they are our daughter's siblings so they should be with us. Never did he think about the duration of their stay or the permanency of their stay- just that they needed a place to stay.
The reason for the call was because the foster family the kids had been staying with, was moving away within weeks to another state and they needed placement. The urgency we felt, we now realize was just that- urgency to move and act because their whole world was about to be turned upside down and we needed to be stability for them. We had the pleasure of meeting their foster family (Let's call them the White family) and they were amazing!!! We adored them and instantly bonded with them. The Whites had adopted 5 kids from ages 15-4 and were hoping to adopt Lottie's siblings (let's call them Kate and Kai) and move. The White family felt a new environment would be good for them all, a new start for their new family. They decided to move their whole family away from their entire family here for the best interest of these two babies. They were so confident that they would be able to adopt Kate and Kai they got rid of their home here and arranged for a home in the state they wanted to move to. They were prepared, they were ready and then the bottom dropped out on their dream and due to some very upsetting circumstances they had to move without their babies.
With heavy hearts they passed Kate and Kai off to us. It was the most heartbreaking and awful thing I have ever witnessed, watching this wonderful family say goodbye to the babies they had taken care of since birth. How do you say goodbye to babies you've raised? How do you walk away without thinking of them every single day and night? How do you pass them off to another family, even if there is a family connection between them? Could you? I couldn't? It was a tearful and tender moment that we shared with the White family, when they said goodbye to their babies. We felt an honor to be given this responsibility. We vowed to the White family that we would stay in touch, we vowed to send pictures and keep them updated. We vowed they would be a forever part of our family.
My daughter was overjoyed to meet and get to know Kate and Kai, at 4 years old she already had an unexplainable love for them. She knew they were her family, she felt that deep love, that deep connection @ 4!! I wouldn't have believed it, had I not been here- but siblings have a bond that defies our understanding. My son on the other hand, was not so keen on sharing a room with a two year old. He knew his world was changing and more responsibility was coming his way as the BIG brother. He didn't like it, he didn't want it, but he got it! People asked us, will you adopt- if it was just me I would answer "If they became available to adopt" and Kevin's answer was always "Not sure, we'll just have to pray and see". Within the first week of Kate and Kai being here, Kevin said something deeply profound to me. "What if we are only supposed to take care of them until they can be adopted and then give them to the White family to adopt?" WHA, WHAT? I immediately shot him down, "No, the White's gave them to us, they are Lottie's siblings. We can't walk away from them" In my heart I felt this is my family, our family, why do you want to give them away? They are a gift to us. But that profound statement, pressed on in my mind. God has a way of making me deal with things by putting them in my face repeatedly.
In the beginning, I was in love with Kate and Kai- and like in any relationship that is new everything appears good and shiny and happy. My responsibility was easy at first, well as easy as taking care of 4 kids could be. I loved being a stay-at-home mom, I loved a big family, I loved all that it encompassed. I loved the responsibility! As the days went on, the trials and testing began. The newness and the novelty began to wear off. Brent, Lottie, Kate and Kai grew to love and hate each other and the fighting began. The responsibilities turned into burdens as I felt tired and drained from lack of sleep. I began to feel like I was in mommy jail, I couldn't leave my house and visit with the people I used to. I couldn't go to my bible studies or get a sitter so I could go out. I felt rejected by some family members and I felt isolated and abandoned. Kevin struggled in his own way too, he internalizes a lot and so he spent a great deal of time isolated in our bedroom sleeping. Our life was officially changed. It was a responsibility we had never anticipated or imagined. We jumped from 2 to 4 kids and 2 were babies- what was I thinking? I couldn't do this! So I went to the one person who would listen to me, who knew what I was going through, the person who would comfort me and encourage me that I could get through this and I could do it. That person was Jesus. I began increasing my devotional time and my quiet time. I began delving deeper into His word and His promises for me. I began every morning with Him and everyday He gave me my daily bread and got me through.
It was during this time that my ears and eyes were opened. God showed me that it was hard and it was difficult, but I was no different than so many other mother's out there. I needed to work on getting my house in order. I needed to be intentional about the way I was running my home. I needed to find joy in living, not simply existing.God began to show me how I was forcing a square block into a round hole. I had taken God's simple instructions for us, our responsibility and added lots of extra work- by pitching the instructions. Our job was to open our home and hearts to Kate and Kai and love them while they were with us. They were not our kids, they were the White's kids, they belonged with them. Once I was able to let go of what I wanted and accept what God wanted, our life seemed to transition a lot smoother. We were able to love freer and find our joy as a family.
**Unfortunately, Kate and Kai did not get to be adopted by the White family and returned back to their biological father. I'll save that story for another day of blogging** It is with hindsight vision now that I can see where God was taking us, but in the beginning I THOUGHT I knew what God's plan was(without asking Him of course), but I have learned again, that my thoughts and ways are not His. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.Isaiah 55:7-9
Though not in our way, our time or our plan- we accepted our new responsibilities and we wouldn't trade the who, the how, the why or the WHAT? for anything in the world. I am humbled by the fact that He chose us, to love them, to take care of them, to help them transition during the loss of the White family. I am blessed that He used the time they were here with us to teach us more about love. We are heartbroken that they have left our family, but not our hearts. We hold fast that one day we will see them again, along with the White family. We praise God for the responsibilities God has given us as a family and we look expectantly to what more He will do. For now we know that::
He is sovereign. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail.I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain! Habbakkuk 3:19
He knows the plans. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-12
He knows the outcome. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16b
He knows our heart and our anxieties Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23-24
When we feel a task is beyond us or if it is too big a responsibility, when we feel it is impossible that we can not do it He reminds us Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:25-27