Tuesday, November 9, 2010

foster care: proof that legalism doesn't work

"for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but faith working through love"  -galatians 5:6

this has been a trying time.  not only has parenting the four kiddos been especially hard recently, but to top it off is the added pressure of the social workers breathing down our throats daily. 

we have been battling our social workers the past few weeks.  we cant live up to the standards that they have for us... it is basically impossible.  first, we were told that we need to be much more careful with the kids as a result of a series of injuries. (just to clarify: by injury this includes a dot on lovely girl's face the size of the tip if a ball point pen, among other very minor things).  nearly every conversation with our social worker she reminds me that i need to take the kids for another doctor visit (visits which are already scheduled... yet she feels the need to remind me again.)  and the latest was yesterday when the social workers decided that they don't like the fact that we use cloth diapers and are asking us to switch to sposies (the answer, for the record, is no.  i told her that i believe that organic cotton is much better next to babies' skin than chlorine, plastic and other chemicals.  i have yet to hear a response to that one).

when they say these things, i want to scream.  i want to yell and make them see how much we are serving these kids above and beyond the rules, because we care.  i want to tell them about how patient i am with them when they are acting crazy after parent visits.  i want to tell them how we almost exclusively give them homemade meals made with nutrient dense, mostly organic food.  i want to tell them how we have cleared our schedules so that every single night of the week since the kids came to us, we give all four kids a bath, brush three sets of teeth, put them all in clean jammies and read them all several stories before bed.  i want to tell them about how i basically quit my job to stay at home with them and provide the most quality care possible, rather than shipping them out to a daycare. i want to tell them about every time i have given them a hug when they look sad.  i want to tell them about how we pray with them and comfort them when they wake up screaming in the middle of the night.

but these things dont matter to the social workers.  they are all about following rules and regulations.  the problem is that many families do foster care just for the money (though I cant understand this... the money really isn't that great at all), and the social workers believe that if they make you follow all of the rules, that you are caring for the kids.  but that is not true, which is proven by the number of families who do foster care and follow all of the rules, but fail to nurture or love on the kids at all.

in our case, they dont care about all the things we do right.  i could write pages and pages about what we do because we love the kids.  they care about the couple of things that they view are not going so well, and their utmost concern is to fix these minor things rather than be happy that we love the kids.  and our love is getting "results" (even though we are not all about results): i have reported to the social workers the dramatic decrease in tantrums, the big increase in sharing toys, their use of "please" and "thank you", even the fact that their psychologist terminated services after just 4 weeks because (as she put it) she cant do anything to add to or improve upon what we are doing with the kids.

as these things stewed around in my mind today, it dawned on me that this is a great illustration of loving God vs legalistically serving Him.  when we love God, we want to go above and beyond the letter of the law.  the bible helps us understand what God desires from our lives, but it is only a starting point to begin learning how to love and serve Him.  on the other hand, legalism is a set of rules.  if any of these rules is even slightly broken, the result is guilt and fear.  in legalism, love is not the motivation, results are.  but with love, the "results" come naturally as the love flows out. 

seeing up close the vast difference between legalistic care and loving care in the foster care system, God has really taken it deeper into my heart of why he wants our love, not our legalistic service.  Lord, give me true love for you and not a heart of legalistic service!

[as a side note, prayer would be greatly appreciated.  i am having trouble discerning if all of this headache is merely God bringing us through trials and persecution, or if he is gently closing the door on these kids being in our lives.  pray that He would give us wisdom and that we would walk by faith.]

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