Recently, I have been thinking about foster parents, adoptive parents, and the children who are loved by them. No, we're not looking to adopt - we don't feel we have been called.
And, a calling it is. Or, it should be. Sadly, many foster parents are not called...as evidenced by their selfishness and lack of care for the young hearts that enter their homes.
However, there are many foster/adoptive parents who love each child who comes into their home with their whole hearts. They love, teach, and care for the children as they were their own. In some cases, those children will, indeed, be theirs one day. In others, tears will be shed as they say "good-bye." That is a grief I cannot even begin to imagine.
There are adoptive parents who fall in love with their child from miles away. Parents travel halfway across the world to bring home a child who, in any other case, has no hope of love or home or family.
To adopt a child, a parent must often pay a lot of money. They often have to have their home and family-life evaluated and "graded" by social services in order to be deemed "worthy" of the state. Parents have to fill out mounds of paperwork before they may call these children their own. Once a child comes into their home (if a foster child or the process of adoption has not yet been completed), that child must often leave for visits with their biological family members - often causing confusion & upheaval of schedules and emotions. I know of one family whose daughter, even after being adopted, still has to have visitation with a biological parent! Parents lose sleep over children who've been abused in ways they can't imagine and do all they can to protect them from any further harm or hurt.
I realize that foster and adoptive parents are not the same nor do they face exactly the same challenges. I realize that each adoption story is as different as each birth story. Some births are full of turmoil and distress while others are smooth and joyous. From what I understand, it is the same with each adoption.
I am in no way an expert in adoption or foster families. I only observe, hear, and listen to the stories and challenges of friends who are walking down that road. I can not empathize - I've not walked in their shoes. I cannot fully comprehend the love, fear, sorrow, and joys these parents experience and the roller-coaster of emotions that they must feel - other than they are, in many ways, the same as all parents - biological or not.
I have come to learn that these parents don't want the fact that their foster children or adopted children to be labelled as such. They are truly their children - not foster, not adopted. No labels, just love. Though the DNA will tell the world that these children and adults are not connected genetically, their hearts will tell the world that they are, indeed, family. In my opinion, love trumps DNA.
There is no better example of how Christ loves us than that of adoption. I was cast-off, unloved, and unable to care for myself (spiritually). When no one else could save me from my hopelessness, then came Christ. He saw my pitiful state and gave everything for me. He reached down and offered me a place in His family. Once I said "yes" He sealed the contract with His blood and I am now His child. No one can change that. I don't deserve to be in His family. My sin made me unworthy. But, He didn't see that. He loved me and that's all that mattered.
To those who have chosen to bring in a child from the outside and love that precious gift, thank you for reminding me of the love my Saviour has shown me.