I must have been a sleep during this part of our training classes. The part that described what our interaction would be like with the biological family of foster children. Maybe it was the horror stories of angry, threatening parents that caused me to forget. Whatever the reason, I somehow deducted that I would never have to meet any family members of any foster children in our care. Or at the very least, if I did meet them, I would not have to interact with them.
My intention was to fulfill my call to care for vulnerable, at risk children. I did not intend to interact with the family of these children.
I shared in a recent post, Trauma upon Trauma, about the multiple layers of trauma a foster child endures. In that post, I share about going to our first parent visit. Here is a little more detail about that visit.
I went with my wife, so she would not have to face the unknown alone. As we drove to the office building, I wondered why they had not told us where the secret drop off door was when they gave us the address to the building.
Seriously, I thought that there was a secret door where foster parents could drive up, give a secret knock, and hand off the foster child to a CPS employee. I would never have to interact, much less see, the angry parents.
Well, that was not the scene for that first parent visit.
When we pulled into the parking lot of the government building, a young couple stepped out of their car. They strained their necks to see who we were. I thought they probably were the parents.
I really needed to find that door!
I drove around the building twice beginning to feel sick at my stomach. I never found the secret door. I finally parked. We slowly walked, carrying our 8 month old foster son, toward the front doors which were double glass. Inside we saw the two young people eagerly looking back at us. Sure enough, it was the parents. It was not supposed to happen this way! But it did.
A week or so later, our CPS case worker asked us to attend a family meeting. What? Not only were we going to meet the parents, but more of the family? Sure enough.
How did I have it so wrong?
Over the next few months, Danielle and I had several interactions with different family members of our foster son. They were always gracious toward us. I still was protective of our foster son, but my heart was also opening up toward his family.
Here are a few things that I learned through this experience:
- Orphan care effects more than just the child(ren). Chances are you will become involved in their extended family at some level. Caring for an at risk child will give you an opportunity to have a positive influence on the family.
- As a foster parent, I need to be ready to be apart of a messy situation. Not just the child’s, but also his family’s stuff.
- Most biological families will not show anger toward the foster parents. As in our case, they were grateful. I never perceived that they felt as if we were taking their child away. Instead, they thanked us many times for caring for him.
- The need for intercession. I quickly began to intercede for our foster son’s future. I also began to pray for his family. I desired to see healing and restoration within their family.
Question for you – How has God used you to enter into someone else’s hard place to take part in their healing process?