FRIENDSHIPS in Fostering

Friendships in fostering are hard.  Messy, complicated, tricky kind of hard.  They shouldn’t be, but they are.  Now don’t get me wrong, friends are a totally necessary and vital part of fostering as well, and I’m so thankful for the friends that have stuck by my side and walked this unconventional journey of Mommin’ right alongside me.  But somehow, amidst my ever- changing family dynamics, I’ve lost some friends too.  Choosing this ministry can sometimes come with a price.  So, I challenged myself to dig deeply this morning and ask,

“Is fostering worth it?” 

Here is my open and honest response for those that might find themselves asking the same question about me this morning.

I am the same goofy, outspoken, Jesus lovin’ girlfriend I’ve been the entire duration of our friendship.  I still love anything chocolate covered and drinking coffee outside on the patio.  I still want to share my life with you, and want you to share yours with me, and still revel in talking marriage and family and kids and everything in between. The only difference is, that my family grows and changes…literally.  I open my home and my heart when I receive those late-night telephone calls that deliver bare footed, frightened children at my door, and when these littles arrive, my family responds.  We know that dinner the following night might be pizza delivery.  We know that movie plans we made, might be a daddy daughter date instead.  We know that this little life matters enough to temporarily put our social life on hold.  Now, it doesn’t last forever, but it’s what this tiny person needs from us.  They need US, present in the flesh, right there and then, and they need to know that we aren’t the next person on the list who will pass them along to the next available bed. 

This is when my friendship with you changed, because, simply put, it had to. 

I have had some amazing friends who arrive on my door within an hour of a newborn baby arriving, car loads full of diapers, bottles, formula and clothing.  I’ve had wonderful friends share swings, cribs, changing tables, and bathtubs, knowing that this baby might not need it, but another one sure will.  I’ve had beautiful friends start the army of prayer warriors, lifting up these littles in prayer as soon as they learn a new life has arrived.  And I’ve also experienced these same incredible friends get frustrated because I am no longer available for coffee on Friday mornings, when a little is attached to my hip, or become annoyed with me that I now decline invitations to barbecues, because my high sensory infant will scream the entire time.  I get it.  I become temporarily unavailable.  But what you might not recognize is that I am still available, just not in the way you might think I am.  This is the place where feelings get hurt, the whispers begin, and our friendship strained. 

I didn’t choose fostering over you. 

I didn’t mean to make you feel cut off.

I didn’t know how hurt you were.

What I do know, is that real love, my love for both you and my babies, requires discipline and sacrifice.  This love demands effort.  This love requires a personal commitment to God’s will, and an emptying of my own. 

My go-to girl, Saint Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Love, to be real, it must cost- it must hurt- it must empty us of ourself.”  This love is the place where I have found peace, and hope, and joy. 

I’m sorry that amidst the emptying of myself, I’ve lost you as my friend.

While I am not sitting right in front of you, I am still very much here for you in another way. 

I’m praying for you. 

Not in a snarky, mean girl way, but in a way that hopes you’ll encounter this same peace.  I’ve offered many aches, pains, and sacrifices that come with fostering, all up for you, and for so many others.  I am faithfully confident that the work my family is doing, God’s work, will somehow change this world.  I know you may not understand where or how you fit in this, and in the beginning of this ministry, I don’t think I knew either.  But I have come to learn through fostering, that the power of love shines through any disappointment, hurt, sorrow, or frustration we will encounter with one another. 

You are my friend, and I am yours.  And I love you.