Foster care has played an integral part in the life of our family. We have adopted two sibling groups, each with unique situations that have brought many nights of tears and an abundance of joyful days. Though our family has been formed from brokenness, God's grace has brought healing and strength. Over the years, there has been much to learn about how to navigate the complicated world of adoption. An area I often wrestle with is determining what role our children's birth families play in their lives since their situations are a bit unique. Our sweet girls, S and K, had a rough start at life. Parental rights were terminated early on and they were moved around in the foster care system. After some time, they were placed with their bio-Aunt and Uncle until they were able to find permanent placement.
I still vividly remember seeing those two little ragamuffins step out of the car the day we met them. I remember the weight and heaviness my heart felt watching them walk towards us. As we drove away from their Aunt and Uncle's house that day, my first thought was, I have to protect them, they have been through so much! We will never let any hurt come to these precious children again.
The sun shone brightly and laughter filled the air as we watched the children run wild around the backyard. The sincere beauty of that sentence is that the “WE” were the girls’ biological family and us. The day was surreal and yet comfortably natural at the same time. Over the weekend, Auntie, Uncle, and cousins spent the day with us playing badminton and chatting over good food. We have kept in contact over the last three years and finally, we felt a peace having them to our families’ home. It feels insane to even be typing this. If you would have asked me years ago about having an open relationship with the girls’ family, the naive me would have said, “Absolutely not!” Trauma had already stolen too much of their childhood. These girls were my world and as their mama, my sole job was to heal and protect them with every ounce of my being.
Despite my simple-mindedness, time has brought wisdom and understanding. God has continuously revealed the distinct value of having their birth-family be apart all of our lives. Setting my fears aside, walls were torn down and we were able to work on building new meaningful relationships. Trust me, throughout the process, the “What ifs” rang in my head. What if they share our info with unhealthy family members? What if those unhealthy family members try to harm our family? What if seeing the bio family brings forth unwanted memories and causes emotional setbacks?” And the list goes so on and on.
However, I must also question, “What if THIS is a foundational piece our girls need to feel whole?” And this dear friends, is the WHAT IF that I cannot afford to take lightly.
Guest Blog by: Shelby Gleason