I often think of the foster children who have passed through our home. Each one of them has been special — God’s creation in tiny packages. Each of them has come with “issues” and each of them has made me face my own fears and insecurities. What I have discovered is that my fears and insecurities are insignificant in the face of my calling.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to foster/adopt children younger than our biological son. Our age limit was (and is) “No children who would end up in the same grade at school.” We made one exception – a little girl who we agreed to take “just for the weekend”. She was 2 months younger than our son, cute as a button, and had more personality than anyone could imagine!
“What do I call you?” she asked. “Well, my husband calls me ‘Drew’ and my friends call me ‘Nancy’. Most children call me ‘Miss Nancy’ or ‘Momma’. You call me whatever you want,” I replied.
“I’m going to call you Selena!”
“Why Selena?” I asked, confused.
“Because you’re a nice lady! You’re nice like that lady I saw in that movie and her name was Selena!”
Yes, she called me Selena for the remainder of her stay.
She played happily with our son and was ecstatic when my husband brought her a Barbie doll with bright pink hair before he had to leave for a business trip. She told me over and over what a nice lady I was.
Other than telling me frequently that she disagreed with her “NanNan and PopPop” and “them other people” about her mom’s inability to care for her, she had not said much about her mother. She had talked of seeing her brother soon but that was pretty much it. What an easy placement!
She had come to us in the wee hours of morning already asleep, so it was on the second night that we actually had to do “bedtime”. This is a time I always dread with new placements, especially little ones. But I had deceived myself into thinking everything was fine and she would have no issues. I got the kids ready for bed, read them a book, prayed with them and blessed them and sent them to bed — the usual routine in our house. Then this sweet, spirited little girl wandered back down the hall from her room and stood next to my chair with tears streaming down her face.
I held my arms out to her “What’s wrong?” I asked.
She began to wail, “I want my REAL mom!”
I didn’t know what to do, so I did the only thing I could. I held her and let her wail.
“When can I see her again?”
The thing is, during those first days (especially on weekends), there are even fewer answers about a case. No affidavits files yet, investigation is not finished, visitation has not been established yet.
“I don’t know.”
More crying. So we rocked and cried . Yes, I cried too. Then I told her that we could pray for her mom.
“Dear God , Take care of my mom and help her do good so she can take care of me and my brother.”
It was not until much later, when she was finally calm and I had tucked her back into bed, that I realized something. She had said to me the one sentence I had hoped never to deal with — “I want my REAL mom!”
I always thought that would be a scary, heartbreaking moment that would crush my spirit and make me want to give up. It was scary and heartbreaking — for her. For me, it was a moment in which I wanted nothing more than to comfort her and dry her tears and show her some love. I did not notice my fear because it was not about me. It was about this precious person God had placed in my care. It was about doing what God called me to do — to”help the orphans…in their distress”.
She stayed with us “for the weekend” and I gave in and let her stay another night too…in truth, I would have selfishly let her stay forever. She left our home on Tuesday morning to be reunited with her brother…after a visit with her mom.
“Bye, Selena! Thanks for being so nice!”
I went back inside as they pulled out of our driveway, teary-eyed. As with every child who has come and gone, my heart was forever changed and God removed another fear. As a foster parent, I never know who or what is coming next. I do know that God called me to it and that I have nothing to fear.
Nancy and her husband Chad have been married 15 years. They have two biological children – a daughter, Hannah, born in heaven 8 years ago and a 6 year old son, Joshua. They have been foster parents for almost two years and have fostered 12 children in that time. They are currently in the process of adopting “Little Man”, their 17 month old foster son whom they have parented since he was 12 days old.