I’ve talked a little about why I’ve felt so drawn to foster care. It’s something we considered in growing our family for years; the desire to love other children as much as I love Cooper; and because it’s pretty clear what God thinks about loving the orphans and innocents.
However, I would say if there is one moment that completely altered my future and this heart for foster care, it would be the moment my mother trapped me in a bathroom and sat on me.
It’s a running joke between us now, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time. I was about 12 years old and my parents were getting a divorce. I was never the kid who believed I broke up mom and dad; in fact, when they would tell me it was nothing I did wrong, I would bite back, “I know. You guys are the ones who screwed everything up, I’m not taking the blame for it!” I was angry, bitter, hurt, pubescent and the only one of the children old enough to fully grasp what was going on at the time. The divorce was not easy or happy, either. It was messy and I was often caught in the middle of two adults while being caught in the middle of childhood and adulthood.
While I was content firing my wrath fueled by heartbreak and hormones and confusion at just about any adult in my family, including my dad and my grandparents, it was my mom that got most of it. Because she was there and I subconsciously knew she wouldn’t ever leave me or hate me.
This subconscious action of firing my rage only at people I knew would never leave plays a big role in the rest of my life, including how I knew Brian was the one for me. But that’s another story for another day.
I don’t remember specifically what I was so angry about that night, but I was screaming at her from the top of my lungs. I was ready to run away or do any number of things to make her feel like I felt. She somehow caught me in the bathroom and blocked the door so I was trapped. Being unable to escape only furthered my rage. I tried every method I could think of to get out, all the while sobbing and screaming, until she had her arms around me and I was pinned to the wall on the ground with her sitting on me. She was relatively calm, even through tears and working through my anger, and the theme of her words was clear: there is nowhere you can go, there is nothing you can say, there is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you.
Before we started foster care classes, my mom asked me why we were doing this.
“What if you get a bad kid, like what if they try to set your house on fire or something?”
And I told her it was because those “bad kids” just need someone to lock them in a bathroom and sit on them.
Which is to say they need someone who loves them so much that even though that someone may be going through their own personal hell, it doesn’t pale in comparison to the fire of their love for that kid.
Because see, for each person that calls us saints, or selfless or generous for taking on foster care, I’ve got a hundred stories about how fiercely I’ve been loved, even when I didn’t deserve it. The only thing that separates me from those “bad kids” is someone telling me over and over again that there is nowhere you can go, nothing you can say, and nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you.
This woman worked her tail off to make sure we had every opportunity that every other kid got. She wore clothes until they came BACK in style a second time so we could have new clothes regularly. She constantly set aside her own needs and her own pain to try to take away every pain she possibly could from her children. I can only imagine how difficult and lonely this time in her life must have been. She is absolutely why I am a strong, opinionated, determined, feminist woman. Not because she necessarily is determined or feminist (though I’m definitely giving her strong and opinionated), but because she has laid her life down so that my life could be set up to freely become those things. This woman loved me like Jesus before she even knew what that meant.
I don’t know what the future holds for us in this process. I don’t know if the plan involves adoption or more biological kids or what ages/races/stages we are in for, but they were all taken out of their homes because they weren’t taken care of as they should be. What I do know is every kid is just one unconditional love away from being labeled a “good kid” or a “bad kid” and I have a flawed, imperfect, but still absolutely incredible teacher in how to be just that.