(This post is a little longer and more verbose than usual, but please read it anyway).
As most of you know, I am a foster parent.
Specifically, I work with intense teenagers, but I attend classes and groups and trade respite with parents who foster all kinds of kids. Infants, children, teenagers, sibling groups, MR kids, the list goes on.
I have seen miracles happen in foster homes.
I have seen children that were hurt, abused and believed themselves unloveable, find acceptance and love in families that might have seemed unlikely, but became connected circles of healing and joy.
I regularly talk to others about the work that I do.
I very regularly hear people say this:
"Oh, I've thought about doing foster care, but it would be too hard to see them go when they leave, I just don't think I could handle it."
Perhaps my empathy and understanding goes out the window when I hear this, because I want to grab this person by the shoulders, shake her and say:
"What? What you're telling me is that you are going to deny a child the love and nurturing of your family, an opportunity to heal from abuse and hurt in a safe and loving environment.
You're going to rob your family of the blessings of loving another child who needs you, because your feelings might be hurt when they have to go?
Now I understand that not everyone can and should do foster care. There are some people that are far better off by not being foster parents.
Before any family takes on the responsibility, commitment, and time and emotional demands of fostering, they should seriously evaluate their family's ability to handle the addition of one or more troubled and hurt children. Never begin this endeavor without a great deal of prayer.
And after all this you may decide that your family is not able to carry the weight of another child.
OK. I accept that.
But maybe, just maybe, you can.
And maybe, just maybe, your life will be blessed forever by the chance to love a boy or girl that needs you. Maybe you'll realize in time that you needed him as much as he needs you.
Maybe you'll start fostering and be overwhelmed by the intensity of anger, hurt, aggression, outbursts and suffering that these kids are going through.
Maybe you won't be able to handle it.
But maybe you will.
Maybe you'll save a childs life.
Maybe your family will be strengthened by the trials of loving a foster child.
Maybe, just maybe, it will be the best thing you ever did.
Just think about it. That's all I'm asking.