Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Rewarding Job (Part Two): Foster Parenting

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“Whoever welcomes a child like this
in my name welcomes me.”
Matthew 18:5

While many women enjoy good health and experience great content during pregnancy, nausea and throwing up every single day for months on end drained me. Before our son was born, my husband and I had decided we wanted two children, but afterwards I knew I never wanted to journey through pregnancy again.  So we began investigating the possibility of adoption.

Even in the 70’s the chances of adopting a baby were slim. After contacting agency after agency and getting no encouragement, someone suggested we look into becoming foster parents. In reality, we now recognize that it was a nudge from God.

Over a ten year period we fostered 19 children through various county agencies. Some kids merely needed a bed for eight hours; others sojourned with us for six months. Each one brought unique gifts and challenges; all shared the wrenching heartache and trauma of separation.

Though similar in many ways to being a biological parent, foster parenting reaps somewhat different rewards due to the constraints of time and opportunity with the child.

One of the greatest rewards was seeing a foster child overcome monumental obstacles and begin to reach their potential. Jessica’s mother had wandered in and out of rehab for years, dragging Jess from place to place. Truancy precipitated her placement with us at age 15. My heart swelled with pride when Jess stopped by to tell us she had gotten a job, rented an apartment, and purchased a car—and she was only 18! She wanted us to know she was providing a stable home for her mother.

Watching a child take charge of his/her own well-being warms the heart. Barbie came to us directly from the police station. Someone had slipped a drug into her drink at a party and the police found her wandering down the middle of a busy highway. With a less than desirable home life, she was placed with us. In just a few weeks she gained the confidence to appear before a judge and prove she was capable of making good decisions despite no real guidance from parents.

Arlene basically answered to no one from the time she was 12 till she turned 15. Then suddenly her mother put restrictions on her and Arlene ran away. Over the course of six months Arlene showed she could be responsible and willing to obey reasonable rules of the house. How wonderful to be able to help a child and parent work through their issues and develop a mutually respectful relationship.

Few jobs offer the soul-satisfying pleasures of parenting. While also posing the toughest challenge, it still reaps the greatest rewards, hands down. Is God calling you to become a foster parent? Have you ever been a foster parent? I would love to hear about your most rewarding experience as a foster parent.

©2012 Pamela D. Williams