Our lives were forever changed August 11, 2017 when a nurse placed our Ever girl in my arms. Nearly three months old with so much life ahead of her, yet so much she would soon leave behind. That day we became a family for a number of days that were then unknown. I looked at my husband and said, “I do not know how to do this. I don’t know if I am what she needs.” What I failed to trust was that God knew what she needed. He chose me as her mother, just as He chose her first mom. He knew that the weaving of threads, not bloodlines, would make us a family.
I was kind to her mama, but I was not fully free to love her the way I love family. I held her at arm’s length as I erected a wall around my heart in hopes it would keep me from breaking. I looked at our daughter through protector eyes and failed to look at her mama through God’s eyes. Over time God reminded me that loving Ever girl meant loving her first mama with abandon, as a sister and a friend. After all, He redeemed me from my broken places, wouldn’t He do it again? Loudly and clearly, He asked me to break down the walls and open my eyes to see that this road was never just about loving a baby. It was about pouring out the love He has poured in me to the point of empty. He reminded me what He values, birth families included. Just as He rescued me, He came to rescue them. How do these families become rescued if we reserve the love He has poured out on us? His love is measureless. It runs the oceans deep and will never come up empty.
“Family is not determined by blood but by those who are willing to hold your hand when you need it the most. You have been that since the day I had the honor of becoming part of your family (even though we didn’t know it at the time)!”
Ever girl’s birth mama shared those words with me nearly two years after we first met. Those words are a reminder that loving God back looks a lot like loving His future kids. Countless emails, quotes and words about value and worth have been the very core of what drove Ever’s mama and me together as friends, as family. I needed to first know my own worth, then to value others, and that began in relationship with the Father. That is all anyone is really looking for, to be loved, wanted and chosen. Not just foster children, but their birth family regardless of where we land in the case plan.
A year after we brought our girl home, God began to forge a path in our family that led my husband to search for his birth mom. As a former foster youth, his life was transformed by a relationship with God, and again by saying yes to fathering children in foster care. Meeting my husband’s mom for the first time, and our three sons meeting the other half of their biology almost a decade into life for some of them, I grew to see the importance of the relationship between biological families and foster families.
Not every season and every case are created equal, but if given the opportunity to build a bridge with bio families, I encourage you to take the first step. It has forever changed the dynamics of our family and the way we do life. It has drawn a map straight to our hearts about forgiveness, redemption and purpose in the pain. Because we said yes to foster care, we are saying yes to the unexpected story God has written. For nearly two years, she fought to hold title and position as her mother, but then, out of strength and sacrifice, she chose to give her daughter a life beyond what she could offer. In relinquishing custody of her girl, she gained a whole family. Real healing can begin in relationship, even when life looks messy.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” -Ezekiel 36:26
God transforms and renews. Our response is to love others the way He first loved us. He removed my heart of stone to bring me into a space of expansive living for Him, for our kids and for their families.