Counting the Costs
We sat next to each other at the County Orientation, and I felt it. My very first yes in this process. I looked over at my husband with “the look.” You know the one...the “I feel something kinda crazy” ... the “but I kinda want to do it” … the “come on, let’s give it a try” ... you know? THAT kind of look. My first yes, faithfully all in, before I really knew what the next step would entail. A faithful yes before stopping to count the cost such an answer would require.
8 months later, we said another faithful yes to our first call. An emergency placement was needed for a toddler girl who was sitting at the County Office waiting for a home. Husband said yes, the kids said yes, I said yes. We drove to the county to pick up our very first child in the foster care system. She smiled big and ran right to us. We signed our name on the dotted line and walked out with this sweet, happy girl who had seen and experienced far more than any child should have to. We had no idea what that yes would cost us.
2 weeks later, another faithful yes. (In case you are keeping track, we still had that sweet toddler girl, plus our bio toddler and preschooler). Another emergency placement call, this time for a newborn boy who was waiting to be discharged from the hospital. Husband said yes, the kids said yes, I said yes. We drove to the exact hospital where my two were born. The social worker placed that precious baby in my arms with a “his case is going toward terminating parental rights; should be a quick process.” We signed on the dotted line and a nurse wheeled me out with a sleeping baby in arms, the same exact way that I left the hospital with my older two. We had no idea what this faithful yes would cost our family, and our hearts.
You see, when you say yes to a child in foster care, there is no telling what impact will be made. Every yes has been the hardest and best decision we have ever made, and it has cost us quite a lot:
Freedom Bringing a child into your home costs a lot of freedom. Freedom to do what you want with your time, with your space, or with your resources. Freedom to pack up and drive off for a weekend away, freedom to cut a child’s hair when it’s in their eyes, or freedom to make medical decisions when something arises.
Finances More times than not, we have had 4 children in our home...on a single (teacher’s) salary...in the Bay Area. I don’t think I need to elaborate more on this one!
Fractured Hearts This process has been the most painful, gut-wrenching, beautifully broken thing we’ve ever done. Where at one time in our lives our hearts felt whole and pure, this journey has fractured, refined, and redefined our emotions, and our capacity to endure both deep love and deep loss at the exact same time. Every yes has opened and grown our hearts, and every goodbye has left its mark, never to be forgotten.
While this journey has cost our family greatly, the benefits outweigh them EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Foster care has opened our children’s eyes to a broader world out there, one that requires selflessness, compassion, and empathy. This awareness is shaping our children to be the kind of adults our world desperately needs. It’s strengthened our marriage and beautified it in a way that can only be attributed to God’s sanctifying grace as a result of our faithfulness. It’s opened up the hearts of our friends and family in a way that is both surprising and endearing. And so, we will keep saying yes until we are called elsewhere. Because when we are counting the costs, the benefits win every single time.