Saturday, August 13, 2011

"I could never love a child I could lose"


Well, I wasn't sure what to title this, and I may well change it before I publish this- but yes, it’s true...all our children are just temporarily here.

I have known I wanted to be a foster parent for as long as I can remember- I suppose as soon as I realized that one could adopt a child that wasn’t a baby; that there were not-yet-grown boys and girls in the world who needed a mommy to love them for a while, either until their own mommy could get things together or until forever, if need be. I’ve been increasingly vocal about my goal since Jr. High and over and over again I have heard:

“Oh I could never love a child I knew I could lose.”

I’ve heard this line from many well-meaning people. People who have adopted all their children and who would love nothing more than to be able to adopt more but cannot afford another international adoption. People who claim to want “as many children as the Lord provides,” yet somehow overlook the charge in James 1:27 that says “pure and simple religion is to look after orphans.” People who have raised wonderful, caring children but can’t consider even one more. And of course people like myself who haven’t parented any children yet- biological or otherwise. It’s a really common belief- that one couldn’t love a child knowing they could lose him or her.

Today as I was driving home from work in my mini-van I glanced up in my rearview mirror and for a moment got an excited flutter in my tummy as I imagine, for a split second, the day (in the hopefully not-too-distant future) that I would glance back there and see a precious foster child or two (okay, I may have automatically imagine as many as three or four) sleeping in their car seats and boosters. As I focused my attention back on the road my mind wandered to what I would say when I’m out in public with my batch of kids (some foster, some adopted, some biological) to the question I’ve heard so many foster parents bring up on message boards “Are they all yours?” My first thought is usually “Yes- at least for today” because I already know that even my “temporary” children will be loved fiercely by me- and I know I will want to claim them as my own. But something else about my knee-jerk response caught my attention tonight…

If I am blessed with biological children- that answer of “Yes, at least for today,” could just as easily indicate that one of THEM will not be with me the next day. A child can be called home to Jesus at any time in their lives. As a matter of fact- a more appropriate answer to the question, “Are they all yours?” would be “No, they are all God’s.” Even the biological ones are only here on “loan.”

A friend of mine died when she was just 16. She was killed in random gang violence on her way home from church. Becky’s parents placed a poem in the memorial program handed out at her funeral. It read:


I'll Lend You a Child
by Edgar Guest
"I'll lend you for a little time a child of mine,"  He said.
For you to love - while he lives
And mourn for when he's dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care or him for Me?

He'll bring his smiles to gladden you,
And should this stay be brief
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I've looked this world over
In search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd
Life's lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor count the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to
Take him back again?"

I fancied that I heard then say,
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that come
And try to understand."

You see, Becky’s parents didn’t KNOW they were going to lose her when she was just 16, but they recognized that she- like their other children were only promised to them on a moment to moment basis. Another friend of mine, Natalie, passed when she was in her early teens after a battle with bone marrow cancer. Her parents didn’t stop loving her the day they learned that there was a very real possibility that they would lose her. My friend B.D. has Cystic Fibrosis- her mother knew from the time she was an infant that her time with her daughter was going to be much shorter than she would like. But the option of not loving B.D. was never an option- it was really pretty automatic. If you asked her now, as B.D. is about to give her a first grandchild, if it was worth the risk- I bet you she would say yes a thousand times over. Another precious woman- whose blog I find so moving- only got to have her precious baby, Samuel, with her here on earth for the 9 months she carried him in her womb before he was called home unexpectedly. Her love for him is FIERCE, even though she only got to have him for just so long. Anyone who reads her blog knows that she is thankful she had those nine months with Samuel- I don’t believe she would have avoided loving him if she knew that’s all the time she would share with him here on earth and I would go so far as to assume that if she knew ahead of time what would happen in the end she would still have elected to spend at least that little bit of time with him.

My point in bringing all these VERY sad stories up is not to depress you. It’s to challenge the all-too-common idea that one could never love a child they might lose. If you love a child- then you ALREADY loving a child you could lose. By God's grace, everyone who is reading this blog entry will go on to glory BEFORE all their children here on earth. But loving somebody is ALWAYS taking a risk. And I believe it is one that is always worth taking when it concerns a child.

I recognize that foster care and adoption is NOT for everyone. I don’t assume that everyone who says that they know they cannot foster parent is wrong and/or selfish. There are sometimes valid reasons a person cannot  or should not foster. That’s okay and I am supportive of people who know that its not for them and respect them for knowing their limits. I just want to challenge anyone who thinks that they could never foster simply because they could never love a child they knew they could lose to rethink that idea. Could they? Could you?

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