Many of you know that our Sapaugh craziness took a new turn as we welcomed our granddaughter into the world on December 16th (If you are new here, you read that right - we are 32 and have a grand daughter) The following day we got a call for an emergency foster placement for 2 boys; A 3yr old and a 2 yr old.
"When would you need to bring them?" I asked.
"Today" he said.
And so, as much as we were submitting ourselves to the adoption process through foster care (where they review and select you out of other families based on who would be a good forever family for the child/children at stake), we were not fully mentally & emotionally prepared for this journey of foster care.
How do you say no to 2 children needing a home though, right?
To say it is surreal experience is an understatement. 2 children - complete strangers, babies of some other humans out there, dropped off in my home. The door closes behind the previous (week long) foster mom - and there they are with a small bag of clothes, a blanket each, and some Nike tennis shoes.
I remember looking down at the bag and seeing some diapers and then it hit me like a ton of bricks....these kids aren't potty trained. I hadn't been told that. I hadn't asked. Didn't think about it. This is a big deal and was the first rude awakening to this journey we were now on.
In a lot of ways similar to our adventure almost 8 years ago in adopting a 17 year old (hence the grand daughter); there are feelings and emotions on the ride that you don't see coming. Some good ones and some really terrible ones that you ought not share with anyone in case it is publicly confirmed that you are indeed a terrible person.
But I think to paint a rosy, conflict-free picture of foster care (or anything in life for that matter) would be doing it an injustice.
This is hard work. I think being 7 months pregnant def doesn't work in my advantage in this situation, but needless to say, this is hard.
It is hard bc there are lives at stake. The lives of my bio kids, the lives of Kyle & I, the lives of our extended family & friends, and of course, the lives of these little guys -- who never asked to be born into an unstable neglectful environment.
We hear so often things like "It's such a great thing you are doing" or "I know you are tired, but how great a thing for them" and it is encouraging and validating - but it doesn't always feel great. It reminds me of the many times people said to us when Dawn was a teenager and still living a home - "oh it must be so helpful having her" or "If I had an adopted teenager, I'd have another baby too." (what? Like people were confusing the fact that we were in over our barely not teenager heads trying to raise a teenager, with the idea of us hiring a live in sitter or something)
No one can see the challenges, the stresses, the marital conflicts, the financial stretches, the sacrifices. The truth is, I cried one time walking into Target just seeing a young couple with their 3 little girls in a cart - the reality that we would never know just Kyle and I and 3 little girls slapped me in the face. Our reality then was 3 little girls AND a slew of teenagers always around. It was by no means a bad thing, just different from what typical life for a 27 year old couple would look like. Now of course we can't picture our life any other way, pretty typical, I think, of the rocky roads we all walk after God settles them in our story.
The same is true here. I find myself occasionally wishing for things the way they were a short 2 months ago. Getting selfish about the coming of my new baby; desiring to sit on my bed and stare at my newborn and not have to be changing poopy diapers for someone else's kids or deal with them fighting over my who gets to sit in my lap. They call us Mommy & Daddy....sometimes that overwhelms my heart with sweetness.....sometimes that makes me cringe. I have even joked with my OBGYN (get ready, this is terrible) about getting a doctor's note that would say being a foster mom is not good for my health right now in my pregnancy. (seems like an good easy out) And to make it worse, or to make me feel worse, my kids are all in. "Mom, I hope we get to keep the boys!!" "Mom, they're just so cute!" Great. Just great.
But what I keep coming back to, is that God doesn't call us to easy. And he certainly doesn't call us to what is best or convenient for us. This life, my very existence, has very little to do with me.
Sometimes we (Kyle and I) can reflect on our life and think...."haven't we been stretched and challenged enough in these first 12 years of our marriage?" Adopt a 17 year old when you're 24, start a new service at church, have a successful restaurant that then craters and turns into a failing business that you will pay on for several years (still) after its doors are closed, tragic death in our immediate family - twice in 6 months....not to mention our own personal struggles and flawed sinful natures to overcome....Come on, God.
I am doing a Beth Moore's Bible study "Children of the Light" right now with some friends and I loved this one part a few weeks ago speaking to God's desire to grow us, stretch us, take us deeper....not once, but over and over and over again. And "even more" (1 Thes. 4:1; 1 Thes. 4:10)
"God has an affinity for lengthening cords and extending boundaries with a person willing to be stretched by Him" -Beth Moore
I love this. She compares this idea with the illustration of pulling the ends of a tape measure wider and wider.
Today, we don't know what will happen with the boys - and it could take months or even a whole year to know!! That is really hard when you want to prepare you mind and heart and mental picture of your life, BUT we are in this, and this uncomfortable stretching feeling, that we have felt so many times before, is a reminder to us, that we belong to HIM and that this story is not about us. Whatever you may be walking through today - I hope your perspective can be refreshed and may God find us - Sapaughs and all of you alike, willing to be pulled wider and wider for His glory today - even despite our sometimes grumpy attitude towards the process!
God, may it be so in us. May we be seen as yours - and may we be willing, despite our own negative thoughts and lack of will sometimes, to be stretched by You....even more. You have grafted us in - sacrificing and giving to us what we do not deserve. May our life be that to others, especially to these boys right now. In our flesh we are weak - but God we know full well that it is not about what we can do - but about what you can do. So fill us up with your strength and grace as we participate in your stretching us, like so many times before.
In Your Name and for Your Name.