When we adopted our 3 kids in November of 2013, we took a break from being an open foster home so we could focus on our family bonding and strengthening. It has been a much needed respite. I am reminded of this even more as I witness several friends who foster children and the unrest it often brings to their families. Not that the unrest is necessarily bad- it can be exciting, educating, and a great witness to God’s power- but my husband and I were already experiencing enough unrest from making the shift in 9 short months from being childless to having 3 children, and the kids were making the even more challenging shift from belonging to one set of parents to moving through several homes in the fostering network to belonging to two people they had only met 9 months earlier. We needed to bond our family, for sure, and we had to begin with building our kids’ trust in us.
Looking back and remembering all the craziness of it all- and not just the craziness that occurred in those 9 months, but the months leading up to that of filling out paperwork and doing home studies and being scrutinized down to our fire escape plan and house cleaning schedule- I can’t help but feel tired and amazed at the strength we had. Could we do it again? Could I spend hours filling out paperwork? Could I open my home to a 4 year old I’d never met and give him a bed and clothes? Could I deal with his extreme mood swings, his way of showing the anxiety he’s feeling about the loss of control over his own life? Could I handle the weekly visits with their biological parents? Could I have enough energy to deal with all 3 of these wild children?
I could. And, actually, I wish I could do it all over again. I miss that brave little 4 year old who fell asleep that first night in a bed he’d never seen, in a house he’d never been to with people he’d only just met. He was so brave. And I miss that sweet smile from that 3 year old when he was getting in trouble. It was his only defense, that smile. He just wanted me to like him.
I know what I’d do differently if I could do it all again. I’d try to have more compassion on my oldest. I’d stay in his bedroom longer at night until he fell asleep instead of leaving him awake and lonely. I’d try to have better interactions with my second kid. I’d play games with him while the baby slept instead of making him nap. And, honestly, I don’t think I’d do anything differently with my third kid, but I’d enjoy- even more- rocking her little swaddled body to sleep in the middle of the night- night after night- and singing to her.
I’ve noticed that a lot of women get nostalgic about their children when they realize time has slipped away. I’m no different. Maybe this is what leads to them having more children- a chance to do things again but differently. I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. I know my work with foster kids isn’t over. I know I’m destined to have more foster children- and maybe adopted children- in my home. I feel the time approaching. It’s walking down my street, turning towards my door. Growth will enter when I open.