Facing the Shadows of a Foster Child’s Past…

Facing the Shadows of a Foster Child’s Past…

Shadows

Nearly eleven months ago, we met our two beautiful foster children for the first time. I’ll never forget the elation I felt when I saw the car pull up in our driveway – or my consternation as they started to cry the moment I answered the door!

But after nearly a year of backyard picnics, trips to the park, ballet lessons, and countless other adventures, they’ve become a part of our family. In fact, they are so much a part of our lives now that I find it difficult to imagine life without them!

Haunted by Shadows

Every once in a while, though, a shadow from the children’s past will creep up and stop me in my tracks. A facial expression, a way of saying things, a violent outburst, or a bad habit…something that reminds me so much of their biological parents. You’d think I would be used to these moments after all this time, but they still hit me like a cold slap in the face. They remind me of how fragile our family really is, how we really don’t know how long we’ll be together…and how even if we are fortunate enough to become their forever parents, that the baggage they carry with them is something we’ll always have to deal with.

Shadow Blessings

Thankfully, the Lord continually encourages me by catching my attention with Golden Moments. For example, just the other night I was walking past our daughter’s bedroom on my way to go feed our puppies, and heard her singing her “Jesus Lullaby” to her stuffed animals as she tucked them into a tiny bed she had made for them out of a shoebox. It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard.

And it helped me to realize that while the biological parents have indeed left a lasting imprint on these impressionable children – so have we. No matter where life takes these beautiful children, they’ll always know what it means to love and serve God and what a caring home is supposed to feel like. And I pray that they’ll always know how special they are, and how much they are loved.

Shadows come in all shapes and sizes, and – thanks be to God – not all of them are scary.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

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15 thoughts on “Facing the Shadows of a Foster Child’s Past…

  1. They are so blessed to have you guys as parents. They have been given a new life. As have you. No matter how long you have them your love and kindness will remain in them forever. As they will inside of you. How wonderful!

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  2. I read this post with tears in my eyes. My husband and I continue to pray and contemplate and wrestle with God over whether or not He has called us to foster and/or adopt. We will take the first 6 hours of the 21 required class hours this weekend, and the reality of what we are doing is staring us dead in the eyes. From my experience of parenting and loving my two beautiful daughters given to me through my marriage to Jon, I know I can love a child who is not biologically mine just as if he or she were … and yet the idea of baggage sort of scares me. And yet, don’t we all come with shadows and baggage? Your words have blessed me today.

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  3. Oh John, this is such a lovely story that stirs so many emotions. I’m grateful that God has put you in the lives of those precious children, and that He’s put the kids in your life, as well. It’s evident that you’re all making a positive impact on each other. I can’t imagine how it must feel to walk that fragile road of loving your children so dearly while not knowing what your future with them holds. I applaud your courage for loving them with all your heart, no matter what! Thank you for sharing this story of your beautiful family with your readers! And thank you for sharing the love of God with these children.
    Shawny Lou

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me today, Shawny Lou! We’ve definitely made a positive impact on each other – the relationship has been such a blessing, that you just know it was designed by God!

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    1. All this, coming from the best mother I’ve ever known! Thanks for that, honey – and thanks for showing Christ to the kids and me day in and day out, even when “Daddy” has to be away at work! Love you too!

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  4. Hi,

    I’m currently doing a degree in psychology, and one of the things that keeps being reiterated over and over again is how much “nurture” is involved in creating personalities. Yes, their biological parents contributed genetic material AND environment, but you will (hopefully) have much longer to give them a better, more wholesome, healing environment. Also, everyone has personal agency (sort of like Free Will–you’ll be familiar with that term, I’m sure) and as you show your kids a healthier way of life, they will be mostly free to choose that for themselves.

    One thing, which you probably know but I would feel bad if I didn’t mention it outright: a lot of foster children come from situations where parents aren’t purely bad, but rather, they have legitimate mental health/drug/alcohol issues. If any of that is the case here, then as your kids grow up (from the onset of puberty, and beyond) I would caution you to keep a careful eye on them, and make sure they haven’t inherited some sort of genetic condition (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or any one of a dozen other conditions) that might make them struggle to choose happiness and good health. And if something like that crops up, I hope you’re the kind of Christian (like my mother) who sees things like therapy, medication, etc, as gifts God gave us to make our lives better.

    Good luck with your kids 🙂 biologically yours or not, kids are a handful (armful… lapful…) but you sound as if you’re up for the challenge.

    –AmandaQuirky

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement and the advice! My wife has a master’s in counseling, and she had done wonders for the kids while opening my eyes to the sort of things you’ve described…our goal is to be a healing home!

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