Fostering: When The Music Fades

The other day I was on the ground cleaning up food that had been spilled…again.  You know, little kid food.  The kind that is all over the face, the hands, the booster, and of course the floor.  As I wiped the floor, there were four separate kids in my house crying, screaming or playing, all at the same time.  In that moment, the old song lyric came to mind, “when the music fades”.

Remember the old Matt Redman song, “Heart of Worship”?  Yeah, that first line of that song came to mind…

“When the music fades, and all is stripped away…”

Two months ago we received our first foster daughter.  Many around us were excited for us.  All those comments of how cute she is, or how she is in such a better place being with our family.  In our excitement, we rode a wave of adrenaline and curiosity as we set forth on a new adventure.  I even wrote about it.  The “cheering” was loud.  The enthusiasm high.  But eventually it faded.

And two months later, here we sit.  I can tell you why people don’t foster.  Especially men like me.  Here’s why:

  1. Loss of Freedom – Now that we have 4 kids under the age of four, with two in diapers, it just limits spontaneity.  Bottom line: I want to be able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it.
  2. Loss of Options – Last week I took my family to the Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas.  We had reserved a room for two nights.  We had a great time at the water park, but at the end of that first day I went to the front desk to let them know we wouldn’t need our second night.  Why?  Because we were exhausted trying to watch these four little ones.  Adding another one in diapers definitely limits what we are able to do, or at least how long we can do it.
  3. Loss of Silence - Yeah, as you would expect, our house, our car, our yard…they are all louder now.  When one screams, they all scream.
  4. Loss of Control – Our foster daughter is cute and all, but what happens if I really end up liking her?  I hear this one a lot from people.  How could they ever give the child back?

Last year I was teaching a Bible study out of the book of Leviticus.  As many began to understand more about the reality of sacrifice, Romans 12:1 suddenly had new meaning.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

We have been called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.  That is our spiritual act of worship.  Problem is, a living sacrifice can get up off the altar, and walk away.  And so often, that is exactly what I do.  But not this time.

For two months now, I have watched a little girl grow up.  She came to us possibly stoned.  For days she barely acknowledged us.  Two months later, she is laying on my chest trying to wrestle with me and my boys.  She had her first birthday, her hair has come in a lot more, and she now has a sweetness in her face (when it’s not covered in lasagna).  All the while I am reminded that, “In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:3

In the meantime her dad has abandoned the family, her mom has failed 2 straight drug tests, and not even come to see her daughter over the past 3 weeks.

So yes, the music has faded.  The reality has set in.  Amidst all of that, I have come to realize how little of a sacrifice it really is.  We did leave a water park a day early.  No big deal.  We have lost a little spontaneity, it’s a little louder and yes, we are well out of control in pouring our love on this little girl.

We are getting to show a little girl a glimpse of a Father’s love for her, and we are loving every minute of it.  Well…maybe not EVERY minute….

Comments

  1. Angel2 August 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    I LOVE this! Well done. Thank you for being honest. Jared and I keep talking about adopting some day but God may be calling us to be foster parents. We both have been enjoying and learning from your journey. Thank you for letting God use you to inspire us. May that lasagna girl be L-O-V-E-D today!

    • Kevin East August 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      Thanks. I’m glad this blog has been a good resource for you.

  2. Bryan August 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Great post. I’m one of the men who is afraid of what I have to lose by fostering; my wife believes its her calling and wants to take me along for the ride. I’m not quite ready to sign on the dotted line, but reading your writing is very helpful.

    Thanks,

    Bryan

    • Kevin East August 25, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

      It only took me about 7 years to “sign on the dotted line”. And you know, Bryan, fostering might not be for your family. BUT, get busy doing something, not just over-analyzing everything for the rest of your life. That’s what I was doing. I’m glad we are doing it now.

    • Kara Curfman October 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

      Bryan: I do encourage you to explore what God wants for YOUR family. It truly is a FAMILY decision. We included our children in this process since it effected them as well. “Going along for the ride” would not work, BUT I prayed for 15 years and now my husband is passionate about what we do and for encouraging others to do the same. He even took the classes with Buckner letting me know that he would decide after they were over. He was in 100% at the first class. Pray for God’s guidance and for your wife’s passion for these “invisible children”. We regret we didn’t choose this years ago….we thought we needed to wait for our kids to get older. We were wrong! It is missionary work right here in our own little neck of the woods! God is so WONDERFUL and there is not enough paper or time to share the abundance of love and support he has given us! Grab on and go! It’s a wonderful ride IF God is truly calling. Beware: Your wife is praying for you to get on board and you know what happens when a wife prays!! Kara

  3. Jennifer McManus August 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    We just started fostering about the same exact time you did. Our little man came to us in early July. AND we just spent our first week at Pine Cove (Week 10 Crier Creek) Thank you for your post and your honesty. We have 4 kids now too 5, 3, 15 mths, and 12 mths and our life is more crazy than ever before. BUT we wouldn’t change a thing and know that we are doing exactly what God wants us too. Lose your life is a lesson we have been learning all year, so glad that that was the theme this year at camp. Because there are times when I question why on earth are we doing this? We’re doing this simply because Jesus asks us too. Thanks again

    • Kevin East August 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

      Well you have your hands full as well! You are exactly right. Losing your life is a calling we all have. Glad you are walking in that.

  4. Bobbi Brooks August 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    We took on a child, not because we were looking, but because a neighbor needed some place to go. She fills the age gap of our kids. 8, 9, 10, and ll. She is the 10 year old. She has been with us a year now after her mom overdosed on drugs and we gave her CPR to save her life. Dad was very involved in the child’s life. Just in April did he come into the picture.
    Court has ordered supervised visits with the mom and standard visits with the dad. She has had two visits with the dad and now decides she wants to live with him and has pretty much checked herself out of our family. Disobeying, lack of respect for all, withdrawl, etc. We just continue to love her and be firm and consistant and try to teach her respect and God’s expectations of behaviors within a family!
    I have to admit I am very sad that she wants to leave us because we have invested so many sleepless nights, crying sessions, mom missing visits because she “forgot”. It is not an easy thing to take in a foster child. I pray every day that God will give me the knowledge and the strength to do what is best for the child!
    Best of luck to all!!

  5. Bobbi Brooks August 25, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Oops, dad was NOT very involved in the child’s life. At the most he has seen her three times a year.

  6. Jocelyn Hattenberger August 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    a friend shared this with me and said she thought of me when she read it. i am a single foster mommy of 4 kiddos- all under 3 and i smiled through this entire thing! i have been fostering for almost 3 years and YES… have lost or gained all of those little things– but you forgot one… i do believe i have lost a good portion of my sanity on top of everything!! :)
    thank you for the reminder- that it is NOT a huge sacrifice- though it may feel like it some days… but compared to what has been given to US by our Father, and what these kiddos would loose if we DID get up off that alter and walk away… sigh…
    i don’t know why God has chosen this for my life, but i am obediently and joyfully answering YES every day… even when it’s hard and i would much rather just go back to bed!
    and now, after 3 years, 7 children in and out of my home both of my boys have been released for adoption and i am moving forward to calling them forever MY SONS!! God is good… we may not always understand the heartaches, the exhaustion, the calling… but oh He is GOOD!… if we just answer YES!!

    i went to pine cove numerous times while in youth group and loved it every year… thank you for what you do there and in your home… keep on keeping on!

    • Kevin East August 25, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      ha. You are right. Sanity is something that went long ago for us as well.

      When I put everything into perspective, what you said is so true. The sacrifice we are making by loving this little girl is not much at all. It is an easy way to “put feet on our faith”.

  7. Traci Wagner August 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    Kevin – I pray for your family daily…..and I pray that I find 100 more families just like yours! Thanks for your honesty. I have 6 families in training and want to send them a link to your blog. This is a great testimony to what it’s really all about.

    • Kevin East August 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

      No Traci, you are the one to be commended here. All…Traci is the director of the fostering agency we are going through. She and her team are sharp, and they do a great job stepping into the families they seek to support. I hope this blog is a good resource for you, Traci, as you push to train more and more families to shoulder the growing pile of children that need loving homes.

  8. James Alderman August 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    I am a single dad who adopted a middle school boy from the foster care system in 2008. I now see full well why so few churches have foster and adoption ministries: Those who’ve done it can’t in good faith go to church and recommend it to others.

    People are naturally trustful of things they get hooked up with at church, but adopting from the foster care system exposes one to a world of corruption and injustice where the good guys don’t always win.

    I’ve seen CPS case workers write up foster parents for things that aren’t even against regulations (like having more than one BRAND of shampoo for a house full of teen girls to use), violate state regulations (laws) themselves, engage in personal grudges, and place kids with known druggies rather than let Christian families adopt them.

    I found out recently that the boy I adopted years ago didn’t even have a “clear title” and now I’ll likely have to spend a half-year’s pay in legal fees to straighten it all out. My adoption agency knew about this from the beginning and still let the adoption proceed on through so they could collect their fees and leave me with a legal mess on my hands. And this was a “Christian” adoption agency.

    I would not trade my son for the world, and I intend on adopting more boys until my family is complete. But I have a word of advise to anyone thinking of fostering or adopting from CPS: Make sure God is leading you to do this, and it’s not just your own compassionate nature wanting to help kids. Christians are naturally charitable people. And get with somebody who has done it before who can guide you through the minefields. Don’t go it alone.

    James A
    (Carrollton, TX)

    PS. My son loves Pine Cove

    • Kevin East August 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks James.

      A great comment that reminds us all that no, God did not intend for us to walk this earth alone. Sometimes it takes difficult situations around us to force us to that reality of community. I respect your willingness to push through, with money out of your pocket, to bring your boy home.

      • James Alderman August 28, 2010 at 11:21 am #

        Hi Kevin (and all on the blog),

        I’ll briefly tell you what went wrong with my adoption and how you can insure you don’t fall victim to the same thing.

        My son was in and out of foster care in Arizona from the age of 5 until the age of 10. He was in foster care in Texas between the ages of 10 and 12; then I adopted him. He is 15 now.

        I recently found out that CPS in Texas had him wrongfully entered into their master database (called the Central Registry) as a child abusER when he was actually the abusED child.

        Until this wrong entry gets expunged, I am prohibited from fostering, adopting any more, or providing respite to other foster families. For his entire life, my son will also be barred from those activities also, and also faces extreme employment limitation. Again, it’s FOR HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

        Word to all: Please DO NOT accept a child into adoptive placement until you have something in writing from CPS stating that he is all clear in the CENTRAL REGISTRY. It’s a single letter that CPS can produce for you, and your agency can help get this for you.

        Most people who’ve worked in the adoption industry for years have never seen any such thing happen. And my agency was so lax they didn’t even check whether my boy had a “clear title” before they did the adoption. Now corporate level people in that agency are trying to get the record expunged in Austin. (And everyone said together “I bet they are!”)

        This is a perfect example of why people must counsel together and share stories. Hopefully my expreience will help others avoid the same pitfall.

        I realize this is a matter which would more often be brought up in a foster parent’s support meeting and not on a spiritually-related blog. But I believe it’s vital that everyone know.

        God bless all who have undertaken to adopt orphans. It’s a life-changing expreience for all involved.

        If I could be of any help to those considering a CPS adoption, feel free to contact me through Facebook. I’m way easy to find.

        Best Regards,

        James Alderman
        (Carrollton, TX)

  9. Carrie Anderson September 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Kevin,
    I am so blessed reading your reflections on working with your precious foster daughter. Thank you for letting us into your world. And thank you for being a brave advocate for the “least of these.”

    In Christ,
    Carrie Anderson
    Public Relations
    Methodist Children’s Home

    • Tracy King September 2, 2010 at 12:12 am #

      kevin, you guys are doing great stuff!! you have such a great platform here to spread the word. our current foster daughter, faith, has been going to pine cove since she was one week old (familiar story carrie :) ??) and she is now four. fostering is in no way easy…when God calls, He equips. chris and i have been called….now we just must keep our confidence in Him to love and nurture these children with the love of Christ. we have been blessed beyond measure while fostering our pumpkins (nine so far)…

      see you soon!! praying for you guys!!!

      • Kevin East September 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

        Thanks for the feedback, Tracy. It’s good to read of someone who confidently feels called to foster.

    • Kevin East September 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

      Thanks for all you do for these kids. I am continually reminded of how easy my life has been when I consider what our little girl has gone through in 13 months on this earth. I hope many men read this blog and step out in faith to provide a solid, loving home for little girls like ours.

  10. Anna September 22, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    Thank you for writing this and and another article on fostering. It gave voice to my joy and weariness! Two years ago we went from a family of two to a family of five – overnight! We took in three siblings – the oldest was two!

    It’s just so good to read this and know that my husband and I are not alone. Our life went from being quiet, tidy, and predictable to, shall I say, adventurous.

    We’re tired but we’ve NEVER experienced such joy. I have my low moments when I wish I had my old life back – when I could do as I wanted, when my things weren’t broken, when I could sleep as much as I wanted – but, honestly, I can’t imagine life without our three. And now I will never have to b/c we recently adopted them.

    Thank you for your important work for His kingdom!

  11. mama cindy August 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    As a foster mom there is another song that resonates with me as I look at the kids the God has placed in our home. It is the song by Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real that he wrote for his son Bowen called “All Of Me”. He wrote it because he and his wife had no guarantee that Bowen would even make it through his first few months with the physical impairments he had when he was born. Matt wrote that he would choose to love Bowen with his whole heart even though it would hurt more if Bowen was no longer with them. When I heard the song and the story behind it I was struck with the fact that the kids we have are not guaranteed to stay with us any more than Bowen was… but I decided that I would choose to love them with my whole heart because that is what they need.
    I am glad that God has called us to this ministry of foster parenting and adoption. What a neat way to see His heart for those outside of a family and a way to really see the salvation message lived out. God has used our local children’s services agency to fill our family and to fill our hearts. Not always easy, but certainly right in the middle of His plan!

    • Kevin East August 29, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      I had forgotten about that song. Thanks for reminding me. You are right. It is a great one to remind us to love who we have. We don’t know how long we will have them.

      We have loved the ministry of fostering and soon to be adoption. It has opened our eyes to what God has called his church to be – a group of people aimed at displaying and sharing the love that God has for all people.