Today is the day. We say goodbye for now to our two little foster babies. Out of all the questions/comments we get about foster care, this topic is by far the most widely brought up.
“How will you let them go when it’s time?”
“Isn’t it going to be really hard to say goodbye?”
“Aren’t you afraid of getting too attached?”
“I’m not sure how I could do that.”
“What if you don’t agree with the situation?”
I’m not sure I actually have answers to any of these questions yet (except the attachment one – No, I’m not afraid of getting too attached. Attachment is what these kids need. I’ve got lots of resources in my life – and am actively seeking out ones for my kids – that will help my heart with the loss. In many ways, our family has been the front line of resources for the foster kiddos; we’ve provided much healing to them by allowing ourselves to get attached. And we’ll be ok!)
I think this is one of those situations where the verse in Philippians that talks about peace that transcends understanding is completely applicable. There are lots of reasons to feel anxious today. But I’ve already been feeling God’s peace and am praying that it will continue to guard my heart and mind.
It’s funny – one of the regular readings I do for my devotional time is from the IF:Gathering and their online bible study IF:Equip. Their current series is called, “A Fight for Faith”, and they are studying one mighty woman of faith from the Old Testament each week. Guess who is this week’s woman? Hannah. Wow – so timely. Our situations are quite different in that we are not saying goodbye to a biological child, but still I’m finding some great hope and encouragement in her story. One of the hardest things about foster care is that there is great uncertainty about the future and home life of the kids once we release them out of our care. While intellectually I can grasp that I’m turning them over to God, and that God loves them way more than we do, and that they were always God’s to begin with, it’s still very difficult to not worry about what’s going to happen to them!
When I think about who Hannah was entrusting her son with, I wonder if she had the same worries? Yes, she was giving him to God, but the main human person who was going to be instructing him and raising him through his childhood was Eli. Eli was not exactly the paragon of great parenting – at least from an outsider’s perspective. God was so displeased with his sons’ behavior that he promised to Eli that He was going to wipe out his whole family. (And little boy Samuel got to affirm that message to Eli as one of his first prophetic messages – such an easy first assignment!) As I’ve pondered this story over the past couple days, I’m just astounded anew at Hannah’s faith and ability to trust God with her beloved child. I wonder what questions she got from other people – I don’t think human nature has changed too much since ancient times!
“You’re leaving your son with Eli? in the temple? What kind of a childhood will he have?”
“You do know who is in charge of the temple, right? Have you seen his other sons and what they’re doing?”
“You only see him once a year! Isn’t that hard? What kind of mother could give up her child?”
I’m sure there were a lot more ugly questions too – about little Samuel’s parentage, Elkanah and Hannah’s relationship, their motives, Eli’s motives, etc. But the main things that are recorded in Samuel’s story is about the faithfulness of God to Hannah, a chance for redemption for Eli, Hannah’s great joy in the Lord, and Samuel’s faithfulness back to God. This gives me great hope!
While I’m sure I am going to have lots of tearful moments today and in the days to come, I’m going to try and come back to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2, which occurs directly after she places her toddler in the arms of Eli at the temple. (bold emphasis mine)
And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
I’m forever thankful for the presence of these little children in our lives. I know we’ll all be processing how our family has changed since they came to us over the next several weeks and months. For now – it’s time for breakfast clean up and last minute packing.