Monday, May 18, 2015

Love 'Em and Let 'Em Go

Written by Jennifer Clarke

I’ve always been open to adoption.

But there are two things I said I would never do:

1.)Adopt a child here in the States.
2.)Be a foster parent.

Don’t worry, I have nothing against American children. My hesitancy was never about the kids. It’s about their circumstances.

You see, I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s hearing way too many horror stories of people who had adopted children in the U.S. only to have the biological parents knock on their door or serve them court papers six months or two years or five years down the road, demanding them back.

I had seen plenty of eyewitness news stories of the devastation imposed on the adoptive parents and the children as they were wrenched from each other’s arms, with tears trailing down their cheeks as they sobbed.

I didn’t want that to happen to me.

Love them only to lose them?

Take care of them and then hand them back?

Dry their tears and change their diapers and read them books and wipe their noses and help with homework and say prayers and give baths and administer discipline and give hugs and cook and clean and comfort and teach and admonish…

and then give them up?

No thanks!! Who in their right mind would sign up for that?!

I’ll just go the international adoption route,” I said.

That way all biological ties to the child are far, far away and I can rest easy at night,” I said.

And look at me now…

Foster mom to three boys. Boys who look like they belong in our family. Boys who are acting more and more like they belong in our family. Boys who now seem in every way like they belong in our family.

But beneath our hugs and our smiles and our squabbles and our routines and our love is the realization that they’ll probably leave one day.

Chances are, they’ll return to their biological family. It may be in a month. Maybe in six. Maybe in a year. I have no idea.

So what changed my mind?

Well, it was a long process, to be sure. And it required a lot of molding on God’s part.

And a lot of stretching on my part.

Which is also God’s grace. So it wasn’t me.

It was all Him.

But here’s one of the most important lessons that wrought a change:

There are no guarantees with any child.

And when I try to consider my old attitude from God’s perspective…

well, it starts to look pretty presumptuous.

Because in reality, my own children aren’t really my own, either.

I’m not guaranteed the next second with my biological children, much less the next hour, or day, or month, or year.  But that doesn’t stop me from pouring every ounce of love and care and nurture, and blood and sweat and tears into them anyway.

And so I began to realize how supremely selfish it had been for me to refuse food, shelter, and love to a needy child just because I wasn’t guaranteed tomorrow with them.

I had fooled myself into thinking I would love them too much to let them go.

But the truth is, that’s not love at all.

The parent-child relationship is an incredibly strong bond. I believe God created it that way.

But sometimes we erect it as an idol…

preserving it and guarding it and fiercely protecting it at all costs

instead of seeing it for what it really is: a sacred calling to raise children for Him.

It’s not about me at all. I’m just the means through which God wants to make disciples of my children

and any other children in my care.

And so whether I have them in my home for an hour or a day or a month or eighteen years…

and whether they’re biological or adopted or foster…

I’m going to love them with reckless abandon.

Because I’m not guaranteed tomorrow.

And I’m going to point them to Him.

Because that’s really the point anyway.

“…you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
What is your life?
For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live & do this or that.’
As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
James 4:14-16

Jennifer Clarke is a foster mom and author of the blog A Divine Encounter and also moderates the Grace & Truth weekly link-up. Please visit her blog and encourage her. Also follow her blog on Facebook.

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