Last week we got a call. A really exciting call. A call for a 21 month old Hispanic girl who was actually adoptable. We were thrilled. Not only was she the exact age we were hoping for, but she was actually adoptable. That is super rare in the age range we are open to. But long story short, things changed with her family situation, and yesterday they decided to adopt her with her 10 year old sister, not separate, as was the original plan. So she would no longer fit in our family. Though we tried to guard our hearts from getting too excited about her, it was a letdown when we found out that it wouldn't happen.
Then we got another call today. For a 6 month old African American baby boy. His situation is much different from hers, but very similar to all the other kiddos we have had. He may or may not end up being adoptable, things are very unclear at this point. He was taken from his family this week, languished for two days at a DCFS office while they sought out a family (because of the foster care crisis in LA right now) and then we got the call.
And its risky, but we decided to say yes. Why did we say yes to a risky placement when we really want to adopt? Three reasons. All placements are risky, no matter what it looks like at the beginning. Anything could happen. Everything is risky in the foster care system until the judge slams the gavel down and finalizes the adoption. Secondly, because God is sovereign. Period. Whatever he wants to happen will happen. Thirdly, because as much as we want to grow our family, we also want to serve kiddos in need, even if that is just for a short time. Though we would like for it to be a long time :)
But at the same time, it IS a risky placement. And we had the possibility just yesterday of having a pretty-for-sure adoptable little girl.
So I found myself in the hours before his arrival pondering. Questioning. Wondering. Can I love again? Can I put my heart out there to love another baby who might not stay very long? Will I be selfish with my heart, put a protective box over it, lock it up with a key, so that it will be safe? It would be easy to just take care of him in the physical sense, keeping him clean and fed, but could my affections go there again? Can my heart stretch that far to love the sixth child in the past three years?
And after thinking for a long time, I came to a conclusion. Yes, I can love him. Just as I plan to love Alex until we (Lord willing) grow old and wrinkly together. Just as I loved Esther before she was born. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. I have the choice of whether to love baby boy or not. And I choose love, by God's grace. And it is God's grace: we can only do this foster parenting thing because of the love Jesus first showed us by dying on the cross. So I can pour that love into baby boy, especially since loving him is really loving Jesus.
And when he came in our front door and I saw him for the first time, I knew it was true. I will love this baby. I will snuggle him. I will kiss his forehead. I will rock him late into the night if needed. I will sacrifice for him. I will help him to have the healthiest, best childhood possible for the time that he is with us. Every child deserves these things, how could I hold them back from our little man? I will not hold them back. As God pours out love into my heart, I will pour out love to our little man.
(Note to self: make sure you are going to God daily to be filled with His love, so that you have plenty to pour out to the kiddos and to Alex).
And here are some highlights from our first couple hours with our new little man before he went to bed.
*Set him on the ground for tummy time and he started crawling. On his knees! He seriously just turned 6 months old yesterday and he started crawling. He's also super long so we have concluded he will be a basketball player.
*For a half second I was starting to think "Well, six months is a bit younger than we wanted, but at least he wont be moving yet so he'll be easier in that way." Yeah. Right. We would get the six month old crawling prodigy.
*Although I have to say, I am thankful that he is not delayed in this area. He could very well be delayed considering his history. Many foster kiddos have developmental delays.
*Esther is so thrilled to have a playmate in the house again. It took about .5 seconds for her to warm up to him. She took just about every kids book on the shelf off and gave it to him. How sweet. :) I don't think he's too into books yet, but we don't have to tell Esther that.
*Since we became parents three years ago, we have had two to four kids in our house for the majority of our parenting time. Many people have asked me "How do you do it with so many kids?". My question over the past month (since baby girl left) to moms of only one child is "Seriously, how do you do it?!" Esther has been markedly different without a sister around to bug (er, play with). Kiddos need playmates. Kiddos want siblings. Its good for them. I am so glad that Esther has a new Bubba to play with (Bubba is her current nickname for him).
*When putting him to bed, he was clearly tired (I can only image what he has gone through in the past 72 hours). I tried to pat his bottom and sing to him until he fell asleep but it only slightly placated him and didn't get him to sleep. So then I picked him up and laid him on my chest as I laid on our bed. He was out in less than a minute. It was the sweetest feeling to feel his body relax and melt into mine. And now he's in bed sleeping peacefully.
He came to us after 6p and was in bed before 8p so that is all so far. But we will continue to update in the next few days.
Lastly please pray for us. Please pray that God will give us the strength to love him well. Pray that baby boy will grow up to love and know Jesus. Please pray that we would trust unwaveringly in God through the difficulties of foster parenting. Thank you for walking along side us in this journey!