I had been away from my daughter for a couple of hours and I was dying to be back with her, while this mama was soaking in the only 120 minutes she would get with her babies that week.
This past March, we welcomed our baby girl into the world. She was seven pounds, two ounces of pure sweetness. I was instantly obsessed.I missed her when she was napping and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her when she was awake. I loved every tiny detail about her. After a couple months of maternity leave, I returned to work at the church. I love everything about my job and I was so excited to be returning, but I was still an emotional mess leaving my baby. I knew she was in great hands and I was confident that this ministry and calling was the plan God had for me, but it still crushed me to be away from her, even for a few hours.
One of my first weeks back to work, I had a meeting at Children’s Division where we were discussing some new ways our church could partner with the foster care system. While we were there, we walked past a room where a family was having a weekly visit with their biological children that had been removed from their custody. At first I didn’t think much of it, then one of the case workers reminded me that this would be the only two hours in the entire week that these parents would get with their two daughters, one of whom was the exact same age as my daughter.
Let me be completely honest for a moment, when we first began our foster care ministry here at Christ’s Church, I struggled to have much compassion for biological families. I wondered how on earth they could make the choices they were making and why they weren’t working harder to get their children back. I’m not proud of that mindset, but it’s the way I felt at the time. Over the years, though, God has opened my eyes to see their stories in a new light. Jump ahead to that day at Children’s Division. I looked at that biological mom holding her new baby, kissing her precious cheeks and staring into her deep blue eyes, telling her she loved her and she was doing everything she could to be better for her, wiping her own tears as she fed her baby the only bottle she would be able to feed her that week, and my heart was broken. I had been away from my daughter for a couple of hours and I was dying to be back with her, while this mama was soaking in the only 120 minutes she would get with her babies that week.
Did she do something wrong that led the state to remove her children? Yes. Could she have avoided whatever that decision was that she made? Possibly so. But in that moment, I didn’t see someone who had chosen something over her kids. I simply saw a mama. A woman desperate to hear her baby’s first coos. A woman who was soaking in every single one of the 7,200 seconds she would get with her precious girls that week. A woman who so badly wanted to fight for her kids, but because of her past, simply didn’t know how too.
Foster care is messy. The events that lead to kids being removed from their homes are gut-wrenching. There are rarely easy answers and the right path seems impossible to find. The trauma endured by the children is only matched by the trauma that makes up the stories of their biological parents.
But aren’t the messy areas of this world exactly where God has called his church to be?
I don’t have all the answers and I know that this work is hard, but I’m confident that God is leading our church to join him in the work of reunifying families when it’s possible, redeeming stories through adoption when it’s not, and restoring our community through the power of his Holy Spirit.
To find out how you can get involved in what God is doing in our local foster care community, contact Maggie.firstname.lastname@example.org.