The topic of child welfare looms large in my novel Our Orbit, which tells the story of an Appalachian girl who crosses the tracks to become foster daughter to an educated family. Love and conflict ensue as all the burning social issues of our time raise their sometimes ugly heads. In gratitude to those who helped me learn about the many demands and great rewards of foster care, I am sharing information on this topic throughout the month of May 2015, National Foster Care Month.
The following guest post is from Loving Little Arrows 3/28/15, the blog of Mackenzie, “a Jesus lover, wife, bio-mom of two, and a foster mom to many more.” Many thanks to Mackenzie for sharing this deeply touching perspective.
The Other Woman He Calls Mommy—
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
My last post was about how thankful I am that in this moment I am J’s Mommy. I felt it only fitting to share my heart on the other woman he calls Mommy.
Before we ever received a phone call asking us to take a little on into our home, I prayed and prepared myself to speak lovingly over a woman I would likely hate. I was certain that with loving my new child would come anger towards the one who had failed him and caused him so much pain. Never the less, I was determined that I was going to love this woman.
And if I couldn’t, I was at least going to speak lovingly about her to the child who loved her. I truly am a believer that, whenever possible, reunification is the best option. I can only imagine that parenting through CPS can be discouraging, and I wanted to be the encourager. I wanted to keep pushing her forward and assuring her that she could make the changes necessary to bring her child back to a safe and loving home.
This scenario that has played out in my head, where I would grit my teeth and through the grace of God love an unloveable woman.. Well, it didn’t turn out to be our reality.
From the moment J arrived my heart soften toward’s his mom. I was shocked by the amount of belonging that arrived with J, as it’s common for children in foster care to arrive at your home with the clothes they are wearing and possible a small garbage bag. As we signed papers that night, accepting our rolls as his parents, his case worker told us that his mom had been very cooperative and had asked if she would be allowed to meet us during his first visitation with her. She was scared, and wanted to know her baby was safe.
While it hasn’t been without tension, our relationship has only improved since then. I’m shocked at how easily I love the woman I was sure I would hate. I’m shocked by the amount of compassion and forgiveness I feel towards her.
The first letter she wrote to me thanked me for caring for J, she too has a softer heart towards me than she expected, and explaining how much she loves him. The letter had pages full of all the things J likes, many of which i’d already began to figure out – It was reassuring to see how well she knew her son. I’ve watched her walk to visits that were scheduled during a time that her car wasn’t available – this is to an office that is at least 3 miles from her house, and she’s always early. She buys him special chap-stick and hair products, little things that have impacted me. We have had several conversations while we sit in the waiting area waiting for the visitation supervisor to take them back into a room for their time together.
Often, I catch myself wondering when the other shoe will drop… Waiting for things to suddenly go south and to realize this is all just an act. When I catch myself in this place, I quickly bring myself back to where God wants me – that is, trusting Him, and extending unreserved grace and love towards her.
J’s mom is not a secret subject in our home. We have pictures of her framed in J’s room, we talk about and pray over her daily. Please don’t think that I am excusing her part in what J has been through. But neither my physical nor spiritual job title is “judge,” there are those who will examine the case and determine the consequences, but that is not me. What I am doing is believing in the power of God to redeem, and believing in a redemption story for this family. Ultimately I pray that God’s hand will help everyone who is involved in this case to paint the story He has willed for J’s life.
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Visit Loving Little Arrows here.
For additional information—
Visit the official site of National Foster Care Month 2015. That’s right now!
Visit the National Foster Parent Association.
And feel free to share your insights in the “Comments” section below.