In February of 2004, I moved to Colorado to take care of a sweet little boy named Christopher. I’ll never forget the day I first saw him, and knew he was my responsibility for the next year. I hardly knew how to feel, and I certainly did not know what would happen to me while I was caring for him. I spent that year pouring my heart into this child. Loving him, feeding him, catching his puke in a bucket, rocking him to sleep, singing, reading stories, breaking up fights, teaching him manners, taking him to visit his momma, going to the park… He stole my heart, that dear boy, and I haven’t been the same since. I never knew someone so small could wrap themselves up into your very being, so that when you have to leave, you feel as though you are being ripped in two. I missed him so much, it was a physical ache. But even in the midst of the pain of leaving, I never regretted this experience for a second. Even knowing how much the goodbyes hurt, I would have done it all over again in an instant. Because I knew I made a difference. I loved and cared for a child who needed it. I did my best to show him Jesus, so that when he grows up he’ll remember. He’ll remember that Jesus loves him more than he can even imagine, and no matter what happens, Jesus will always be there to hold him. (This precious boy has now been adopted by wonderful parents who are friends of mine, and I couldn’t be more grateful.)
I moved back to Indiana in March of 2005, and from then on, all I wanted was to one day care for a child again. I taught school for two years, worked in a candy & scrapbooking store for a year, and then went back to a job I had had twice before- being a secretary at a feed mill. While I really like my job, I always had child care in the back of my mind. One day. One day, I will care for children again. It’s where my heart is. And all along, I thought that being in child care would look like this: I would train my replacement, go to the English Nanny & Governess School to become a certified professional nanny, and then end up with a really sweet nanny job somewhere new! and exciting!. I would get to travel and see new places. Meet new people. This was my dream, and what I was looking forward to. I didn’t know just when it would happen, but it was definitely a part of my five year plan. (If I had a five year plan.)
But God was working on me over the years. For the past several years, as I dreamed about one day being a nanny, something kept coming to mind: foster care. And whenever it came to mind, I would go over all the
pros and cons. I had a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t do this… Being a single mom is really hard. An ideal home is a two parent home. It would mean giving up my precious independence that lets me go where I want, when I want. It would mean putting the child in day care while I work full time. Saying goodbye is like a knife straight to the heart. It is stupid hard. (And more reasons that I can’t recall right now.)
So most of the time when it came to mind, I would eventually push it away as a bad idea and move on. But it kept coming back. Again and again.
Finally, I started looking at the other side, and it turns out I found a pro for every con… Yes, being a single mom is hard, but it is not impossible. Yes, an ideal home is a two parent home, but the love of one good foster parent is better than zero good parents for a hurting child. Lots of parents put their children in day care while they work full time, and their kids are just fine. Saying goodbye? No, goodbyes will probably not be any easier than they were before, but this time I’ll have one thing on my side- I’ve done it before. I will know what to expect, and hopefully I could prepare myself a little better for what’s coming.
And that leaves my independence. I’m 30 years old. I live alone. I am used to doing whatever Sarah wants to do, because I can. I don’t go out much, because I love my little home and I like being in it. I also like to travel, so if I want to plan a vacation? I plan it. If I want to head off to Chicago on the train with a friend for a summer Saturday? We get on the train and go. If I want to cook a huge batch of food at the beginning of the week, and eat the same thing all week long? Well, that’s exactly what I do. If I want to stay up late on Friday night and sleep until noon on Saturday? I have the freedom to do that. I love my life. Sure, there might be things I would change here and there, but nothing major. All in all, I have a pretty perfect life right now. I’m happy. Besides, me? A foster mom? Really? And is this really something God wants me to do, or would I be doing it for me?
But. Here’s the thing. I don’t want to be that girl who becomes so selfish that I don’t see the needs of those around me. So busy doing whatever I want to do that I can’t reach out a loving hand to someone who needs help. So blinded by my own agenda that I can’t see the souls who are crying out for love or a listening ear or just for someone to be there, to see them.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” -W. Wilberforce
Eventually, going to school to become a nanny just didn’t feel right for me anymore. Do I really need to do all that just to fulfill my dreams of being in child care again? Sure, it would pay well, but money isn’t everything. Why can’t I make a difference in a child’s life here, now? I had also thought of going somewhere into missions as a nanny or foster mom, but you know what? I can do that right here at home as well. There are plenty of opportunities to reach out if I would just look for them. (And maybe someday a time will come when one of those things is right for me, but right now is not that time.)
And every time I pushed away the idea of me being capable of this, a few months later it just came back. Finally, I couldn’t ignore it. This was on my mind so often that I knew it wasn’t just me. So I decided to talk to my brother about it. His opinion means so much to me, and I knew he would be honest about what he thought of the idea. He asked questions, helped me in my thinking it through process, and was so supportive I had no idea why it took me so long to get to this point.
From that moment on, there have been nothing but confirmations that this is my purpose. This is what I need to do. I have only just started the process. I don’t even know if I will be approved. But what I do know is that right here, right now, I am exactly where I need to be.
“You were made for the place where your real passion meets compassion, because there lies your real purpose.” -Ann Voskamp
So far I have filled out my first few forms and gone to be fingerprinted. I have my first home visit next Friday, and my first training day in April. Right now everything looks a little overwhelming. The uncertainty of it all. The finding furniture and other kid stuff and getting the house ready if I’m approved. The training and stacks of paperwork I know are still coming my way. But I am going to take it one step at a time, and you know what?
I am not afraid.