Santa Cruz County is one of the Bay Area's most beautiful areas with stunning beaches and incredible redwood forests, a favorite destination for families and adventurers alike. But among the beauty lives distinct brokenness: more than 200 children in Santa Cruz County are living in the foster care system. We’re on a mission to make sure every one of them is welcomed into a safe and loving home.
This is the foster care life - We say yes with a particular set of expectations, then get hit with situations that we never expected at all. We climb hundreds of stairs in dark, stone stairwells holding onto the hope that the sight at the top will have been worth the extra effort.
Summer is here, and my children’s appetites for adventure and fun are as voracious as ever. The first week of summer was filled with play dates, and every single day included at least one trip to the pool. (One huge inflatable duck included, obviously.) Now it’s time to get back to the real world, and the transition has turned mornings with friends into mornings with a mom who works from home.
Over the years, we only said no a few times, and I remember every single one of them. Even when the children didn’t come to live with us, the knowledge of them took up residence in our home. I carried the burden of their need with me for weeks, and I still think of them today.
I like to use the phrase “for now” to talk about our foster placement. He’s ours “for now.” I’m his Mama “for now.” We’re a family of four “for now.” I can see how this makes other people squeamish at times. It sounds so scary, so unknown. I am often pestered with questions like - What’s going to happen? Do you get to keep him? How will you feel if he goes back?
Recently, my buddies, who are now eight and nine, were having a rough morning. While plowing through school work, frustration ensued, books were thrown, and angry words spilled out. One of the boys was curled into an angry ball in the corner of the couch, refusing to speak to anyone. At a loss for the right words to help my son, I pulled out a book.
Of course, we know the end of the story. We know that Jesus’s season of difficulty was temporary…that it wasn’t long before that season of grief was replaced with an incredible season of joy. But Jesus had to walk through the season of pain first.
I sat back on my knees and stared at this formidable three-year-old in bewilderment. We had only known each other for a couple of days, and I was struggling to understand her. I didn’t know who or what Kurt was, and I had no ability to reunite her with anything from her life before she came to live with me.
All too often, the numbers related to foster care tell a hopeless and desperate story. The statistics are frightening, and the trends are discouraging. When we consider the full extent of the foster care crisis in the Bay Area, it’s clear that the problems are too complex for one church to solve and that the need is too great for one church to meet. That’s why 22 and 60 are two of our favorite numbers.
My husband and I had just walked out of our ninth foster parent training session. We only had one more class to complete before we would be granted our license to provide foster care. Although previous sessions had taught us about the horrifying effects of trauma and abuse and the vast responsibilities of caring for vulnerable children, nothing had deterred me from my desire to become a foster parent until that night.