I have been in the foster care and adoption world for over two years now (though it feels like it's been my whole life), and if you have read any of my other blogs, you know that it has not been an easy journey. Although foster care and adoption look different for everyone, we all have similar challenges and struggles. You cannot enter the world of foster care and adoption without also entering brokenness of some form. Families were meant to stay together, and so anytime they are split apart, there is going to be hardship, sadness, and deep pain for all parties involved, including foster and adoptive parents.
In the beginning of the process, it is a little bit easier to keep truth at the forefront of our minds. We are doing the work that is God's calling. He is placing the lonely in our families (Psalm 68:5-6), we are caring for the orphan (James 1:27), and in some ways, we are removing the heavy yoke of oppression (Isaiah 58:9). It feels exciting to actually do the work of God, to extend His Gospel to children and families who are in need of Good News.
But as we continue the work, lies creep in. The enemy, Satan, can sense our lack of confidence and dependence on the Lord and attack us with lies that can cripple us and make us feel defenseless against the roaring lion who comes at us to kill us, destroy us, and devour us (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10). In foster care and adoption, we are dealing with persistent and difficult behaviors, feelings, and situations that often leave us wondering if we will ever be enough, if anything is working, and if healing is even happening in our home.
I'm here to tell you that lies don't just go away. We have to fight them with the Truth of the Gospel. We have to arm ourselves with the Love of the Father, who gives us life to the full (John 10:10). We have to remember His presence and re-awaken our hearts to love our children anew.
So, here are 10 truths from the Bible that I continually remember. If you are a foster/adoptive parent OR anyone who is fighting lies every day, I encourage you to make your own list, or start with this one. Print it out, write them down, hang them on your mirror. Constantly remind yourself of God's Truth that always points you to His love.
1. God is your strength. He will give you what you need for whatever comes next, whether it is a meltdown or a difficult conversation. (Isaiah 58:11, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Many times in our journey, our lives have just felt like a string of meltdowns and difficult conversations. During these moments, I start to feel overwhelmed, like I don't have anything left to give. I remember that God is my strength through it all, and that He will to hold me up when I feel weak. He will provide me with the ability to say the right words, give the love needed, and connect with my child when I feel powerless and out of control.
2. God sees you (Genesis 16:13)
I write about this more in depth in this post, but I love this verse in Genesis when Hagar, a woman who was hated and mistreated by Sarai, was seen by God. In her most vulnerable moment, God saw her and had compassion on her. He still called her to do something difficult (return to Sarai and Abram), but He saw her in her suffering. Sometimes, in the middle of the mess, it's a beautiful reminder to know that God sees us there, and He can meet Him there.
3. Don't give up (Galatians 6:9, Philippians 3:14)
I can't tell you how many times I've retreated to my bathroom, angry and overwhelmed, fearful and hurt. I have been so ready to give up, to throw my hands up in surrender. But on my mirror hangs the truth of Galatians 6:9, and I am reminded that though I may not see it now, I will reap a harvest of blessing if I don't give up and press on. And that gives me the right dosage of hope to say a quick prayer of desperation for God's help and return to my children to do the next right thing - whether that is having the conversation, giving them space, making dinner, or playing basketball with them.
4. Nothing can separate you or your children from Christ's love (Romans 8:35-39)
Honestly, these verses are so good, I don't even have a good explanation. Just read the verses and let them soak into the depth of your soul, reminding you that His love transcends any human love, that it is above our comprehension, that it never ends.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5. You can find rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)
In the world of foster care and adoption, we can become very emotionally drained. Our children require a lot from us. Although we need physical rest through breaks, date nights, and weekend getaways, we need daily rest that comes from Jesus. Only He can give us the true rest, the lighter burden, and the breath of fresh air that we so desperately need.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message - I LOVE this version of this verse)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
6. Suffering identifies us with Christ (James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:14,17, Romans 5:3-4, Romans 8:17, Philippians 3:10-11)
Growing up in a middle-class home, going to a Christian school until 9th grade, and then attending a Christian college, I never fully understood the passages of scripture about suffering. I had always heard pastors say, "The Christian life isn't easy, but it's always worth it." While I wouldn't have considered my path to Jesus "easy," I also wouldn't have said that suffering was an integral part of my story. And to be totally honest, I was afraid of what that might look like in my future. I could tell through Scripture that suffering was an important part of the Christian experience, but I wanted the cleaned-up, less-messy version of the Gospel because that worked for me.
Entering into the world of foster care and adoption opens wide the gate of suffering, pain, hardship, difficulty, and brokenness. When we enter into broken places, we take on a bit of the brokenness. When we learn our children's stories, we carry some of their burden. When we come face-to-face with the trauma through challenging behaviors and meltdowns and situations with biological families, the suffering becomes a very real reality for us.
I have to tell you, the suffering is just as scary as I thought it would be. But Jesus is more real to me in the middle of it than I could have ever imagined. His power is evident in our lives, as I get to take a front seat to watch Him love, heal and restore lives that have been broken.
The suffering is here, but so is Christ.
7. God knew you would be your child's mom or dad. (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6)
Because we started the foster care process without any biological children, it has sometimes been difficult to embrace my role as their mom, especially when they do not call me "mom." However, I rest in the truth that God has prepared this good work for me to do. He has called me to it and He will carry me through it, having prepared me in advance for all that it would entail.
8. God is with you (Psalm 46:1, Matthew 28:20)
At the beginning of our journey, as I entered into painful conversations and meltdowns, I felt so alone. It felt as though I was wading through a swamp full of algae - without boots, without boots, without anyone to help me navigate the difficult path. But I realized somewhere in the middle that God had never left me, that He was always guiding me, always giving me the words to say, always providing me with hope. He promises that He won't ever leave us, and He didn't. I just didn't notice Him.
9. Jesus has already overcome the world. (John 16:33, Romans 8:37)
During his time on earth, Jesus basically promises that there will be troubles. We don't always understand why or what He is doing when we experience these trials, but we can take heart, knowing that He already has overcome the world, and that we are now more than conquerors, too.
10. God can do the impossible (Luke 18:27)
In the day-to-day muck and mire of trauma, picking up children from school because of a meltdown, or driving to a visit with an unhealthy family member, it is hard to remember that God is working behind the scenes and is capable of accomplishing more than we could ever think or imagine in our situations and in our children. His power is more than we could ever think or imagine, and He is able to do the impossible.
In the midst of the hardship that can be foster care and adoption, I hope you are arming yourself with the truth of the Gospel. I hope you remember that His love covers you, His grace carries you, and His presence is with you. YOU CAN DO THIS!
Here are the 10 truths for you! If you click on this, it will download as a PDF and you can hang it up on your fridge or mirror to remind yourself of God's truth.
I had a hard time narrowing down this list, so I'm including two more truths for you!
1. God is for you and your children. (Romans 8:31, Deuteronomy 10:18)
Romans 8:31 (NIV)
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.
2. Your child is doing the best they can with what they have been given. Praise God for that!
TJ and I went to a conference in the fall called Tapestry, which provides foster and adoptive parents with resources and encouragement every year. I went to one of the classes about fostering and adopting teenagers, and the teacher said something I will never forget:
"Your children are doing the best they can do with what they have been given. Praise God for that!"
The behaviors in our children are often survival behaviors. Their needs were not met, so they had to control and manipulate to get what they needed. They were never given a voice, so they determined that they did not have one. Remembering this can re-awaken our hearts to understanding the depth of the pain our children have been through and re-position us to love them more fully.