Foster means giving
We went to one of our favorite restaurants Sunday night, the Wine Kitchen. That’s where we most often go when we have a milestone to celebrate. But it was the first time that a moment of celebration had us tearing up.
The power of giving is what continued to bubble up in our throats and tear ducts every time we tried to speak or take a bite.
I feel like we gave so little. Just a weekend, really. But I’m seeing now that in our small gestures, God moves in and overwhelms, and gives and gives until we, the focus of his love, can’t help but tear up over a goat cheese salad and scallop dinner.
Aaron and I have wanted to have kids for a long time now. We’ve been to doctors, picked the brains of couples who have experienced and overcome infertility, and considered signing up for medical techniques to hurry things along. But the medical route never felt right for us. We couldn’t quite pinpoint why for a long time. It seems like the simplest option. The fastest option. The option that makes the most sense. And the kid, or kids, would come out looking just like us. Easy. But then God flipped our entire perspective on parenthood. Almost overnight, pursuing it changed from a means to fill a need in our lives to a way for us to fill a need in others living in our little corner of the world. With that take on parenting, suddenly foster care came into view as the obvious option.
So nine months ago, we signed up. We went through three Saturdays of training, three rounds of home study visits, and a marathon of question-and-answer sessions with social workers. It all led up to this most recent weekend, when we got to spend 48 hours with three amazing, feisty, goofy little girls. It was just a respite placement, meant to give their long-term foster parents a break. But it felt so much more significant than a weekend of babysitting. It was a chance to give to three little girls who have had so much taken from them. And, turns out, it was a chance to receive so much more.
The giving started weeks ago. We simply mentioned to friends and family our excitement to finally get our certification letter from the foster care agency, and the goodies started coming. The generosity is almost too much to all get down on paper. Friends from all sectors of our life—who we ride bike with, go to church with, work with—delivered enough books to create a small library in the kids’ room, not to mention bedding, baby gates, sippy cups, car seats and boxes of toys. We’re talking six-foot bear, polka-dotted tent, crates of Legos kind of toys. Three of my friends told me they seized the moment to teach their kids a lesson in giving, and asked their little sons and daughters to choose toys they would like to share. The love and generosity flowed from kids as young as 3, giving up a few of their favorite dolls and books, even if just for a weekend.
It all illustrated how contagious giving really is. On Sunday afternoon, as Aaron and I hurried to fold tiny clothes and gather crayoned masterpieces and fruit loop jewelry to be packed into the girls’ suitcase, we told the girls to hurry and put their shoes on. It was time to go, and we were late to meet their foster mother. “But wait,” they said. “You have to see the bathroom.”
We thought something had gone wrong. Something probably broke. We hurried up the stairs—first scooped the littlest in my arms to avoid a crying fit—and peeked into the bathroom. They had cleaned it. A 3- and 5-year-old had neatly gathered the bath toys, lined up the soap bottles, and piled the dirty towels for the laundry. “Let’s take a picture,” they suggested. So we did. It’s a photo of out-of-focus smiles and pigtails.
The effects of giving are like a little kid blowing on a dandelion. The almost whisper of a breath sends dozens of seeds flying, multiplying the small gesture. I’m ready to give again.