There is a car seat in the back of our car. We don’t have a child but the seat is a constant reminder that one day we could get a call and welcome a child into our home who will use it and most likely, if my nephew and niece are anything to go by, render it somewhat tawdry in a matter of weeks. You do not become a foster carer as a career choice to live a ‘normal’ life, but it certainly is an adventure!
Central to us making that first step to put ourselves forward to become foster carers was the knowledge that as Christians we are all adopted; an adoption which is the result of God’s choice, willingness to sacrifice, faithfulness and love. Our adoption tells us, day-in day-out, that no matter our circumstances we are valuable, we are loved, we are cared for.
Adoption is something that growing up both my wife and I independently felt called to and our hearts are still very much there. Both of us have seen the impact of family breakdown in our own lives and professionally have witnessed the devastating effect neglect and abuse can have on children and their futures. Together we want to build a home that will be welcoming and open – and for us that includes fostering and adopting, as well as having our own biological children.
Fostering is without a doubt the hardest thing either of us have done. The biggest challenge we felt as we prepared for our first placement was how we would love this child enough to make them feel at home, while also loving them enough to let them go on at the end. Practically, we wonder how can you live out the same adoptive love of God when you know that the child with you is going to move on and, for reasons beyond your control, you are not the right long term home for them.
I am sure we didn’t get everything right the first time, yet in what was an unsettling and temporary state of being fostered, the adoptive love we have experienced really came alive. Even though the child moved on, they will always be a part of our family; they have helped shape us and we helped shaped them. As far as possible we aim to keep in touch with all the children we foster, they need to know their own story and who along the way have been the people who have welcomed them into their family and loved and cared for them. We become their extended family.
One day we hope to adopt one or more children alongside fostering. These children will come to live with us for good and we are very excited about the opportunity to provide the permanency these children so desperately need. However until then we know that simply by following the example of God’s choice to love, preparing ourselves for sacrifice, being patient and faithful and most importantly actually loving the children we foster, that the ‘home’ they get to have with us for the time it lasts is a good one. I am sure you could do that too, if you wanted!