Jimmy and I are licensed foster parents. As part of that responsibility, we man the receiving center once a month .The receiving center is a wonderful place that houses foster children until they get placed in a foster home. It is comforting for children to wait in a home environment rather than a police station.
When we staff the center, we can get calls in the middle of the night, especially on holidays. Either that, or on a weekend. We received such a call on Friday afternoon. Because of our last experience (which was a leeeetle scary...) I was kind of a nervous wreck. But when the social worker stated that we would be caring for 6 children, I was in full blown panic mode. I knew what I had signed up for, but I had never worked the center while I was expecting a baby. So Jimmy and I rearranged our schedule and knelt down to pray immediately. I just wanted to be protected.
When I got to the center, the kids weren't there yet. So I sat stewing about what to expect. Bad idea. I should have played a game on my phone or something. When the first four kids arrived, I was smitten. All children are sweet, but these four little ones just captured my heart. I had begun to rearrange our house in my head to accommodate the little darlings. The teenagers hadn't come yet, surely they would be tricky... not so- sweetest teenagers ever. And they doted on their siblings like responsible parents.
It was an actual joy to care for these children. The hardest part was saying goodbye. Especially to the oldest. I had a real connection to that one- watching that teenager be placed separately from their siblings was gut wrenching. I cried with that child and held them. And although it is probably not ok, I shared my testimony of prayer with that child. I sat in a room and taught a teenager how to pray. The spirit was so strong. That child may not remember how to pray, but I hope they remember the spirit felt when I talked about it.
When Jimmy and I got home, I was emotionally spent. I just prayed and prayed for those kids. I have a friend who also does foster care. She recently posted an experience with a temporary placement. This friend explained the way your heart fills with love for a child you know nothing about and the resulting heart break when they leave. I get it. I understand. I believe that the ability to love someone so unconditionally is a true gift from God. He lends His compassion to us. He lets us borrow His grace. It is a very humbling experience... and one that I plan on continuing.