I feel like I go through seasons where I feel like I have nothing pressing heavy on my heart that peope would want to read about, and other times my mind is swirling with so many things, I just can't quite find the time or words to write them. I'm currently in the latter state, but for now, I'll write what is currently most pressing, more for me to process, but also because it is maybe the thing I am most passionate about.
I have been watching bits and pieces of the situation unfolding with a little boy that was in foster care. He was returned to his bioligical mother and allegedly killed by her. To be honest, other than snippets I've seen on the news and the statement by the foster parents, I havent let myself dig much deeper. My heart cannot handle it. Maybe because I have spent years in or around foster care or maybe because my newest, precious son looks quite a bit like him. But as I occasionaly let myself go "there" and remember what I've seen as a pediatric nurse, former foster parent, adoptive parent and just parent in general I feel like I cannot keep silent.
Our family would not be what it is without the "system." My sweet Cooper is a direct result of the foster care system. He is MY son because of this very broken, but necessary system. To me, maybe the worst part of this fallen world. We need a government agency to decide if a parent is fit or not, to decide if ripping a child away from their biological parents is safer than placing them in a strangers home....hopefully, if their is a strangers home available. If their are enough people to enter this very very broken process, to open themselves AND their children up to pain. It is necessary, but so sad. Their will be pain, no matter the outcome, their will be pain. That is the first thing I tell people who ask me about foster care and adoption. You are entering a system that is beyond broken, at times you will be broken, the children you love for a season or a lifetime will be broken, the biological parents will be broken, their WILL be pain. Here is the thing, that pain and the fear of pain (it is oh so real, the fear for me can be paralyzing) is NOT a reason to not do this hard thing. Clay and I have been broken over and over by outcomes we wouldn't have chosen, but we re-enter the hard because, just because it is hard or painful, doesn't mean God hasn't called us to it.
I feel with full conviction and no apology, that every human is called to this effort. This humanitarian effort. I get that you may not be called to foster or adopt personally (I'll be honest though, I think waaaaaaay more people are equipped and ready and capable and just don't like the idea of being "inconvenienced" or having extra work or whatever the excuse may be...yes, feel free to be offended and mad at me.) but their is so much more you can do. Find a foster family. Can you provide them a meal on a day when they have a court date. Offer to babysit any or all of their kids. Offer to be an uber driver for all the activities so the adoptive/foster parent can be freed up to go to a dr or therapy appt. Find a case worker that is probably so burnt out working tirelessly to make a difference only to be berated, beaten down, and yelled at by either a bioligal parent or a foster parent. They have an impossible task of protecting these babes while also making sure parents have the chance to be parents. Be the the hands and feet!!! Get in the trenches.
Last year a child asked Cooper, "did your mom give you up for adoption because she didnt love you??" By God's grace, after that question, he rode home with me alone, which rarely happens. As I drove home he asked me, "did my mom not love me, is that why she gave me up for adoption?" i literally almost broke. Like my head was spinning and my heart was breaking all at once. I looked at my precious, brilliant, kind, perfect boy who came from an oh so broken situation and prayed. I told him that I have never met his birth mom and that she definitely had made some bad choices in her life, BUT she carried him to term and had a c-section to deliver him . I asked him if he remembered when I was pregnant with Rose and how uncomfortable I was and how painful it was to get her out. He said yes, and then he said, "she could have had an abortion right?" (This is not a political blog post, I won't debate this issue on any form of social media. The only thing I will say is I have been told many a time how awful I am for being pro life, BUT no human will ever convince me otherwise, primarily because MY children are here because their moms chose life when they could have just as easily disposed of them, but I GET to be their mom and I will forever be in their debt for the love they chose to show to OUR children to let them live.) I said yes, bud, so, no matter the choices your birth mom made she loves you, and more than that who loves you? "God." Yes, infinitaly more than anyone on this earth could. God has a mighty plan for your life and CHOSE you to have this story. I also reminded him that Clay and I could not love him more along with his siblings and more people than he could count. As I pulled into home I asked him if he had any other questions or if his heart still hurt. He said (in such a 10 year old boy way) "nope, I'm glad my birth mom knew I was supposed to be a Nettles and I'm glad she let you be my mom. I wouldn't want to be in any other family. My heart doesn't hurt anymore." Sweet baby Jesus.... I had to stay in the car for a hot minute to compose myself.
Here is the thing. Every one of those babies in the "broken" system is screaming for love. They deserve it, we as humans owe it to them. I'll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. So many people feel comfortable sitting behind their keyboard ranting and raving about all the things. I'll be honest, most people, I roll my eyes at because if, you aren't willing to make yourself uncomfortable to fight the cause you are so comfortably typing about on your keypad I don't want to hear it. I tell my kids all the time, I don't want to hear you complain about something unless you've tried, in some way, to fix it. Have a cause, be passionate about it, but DO something, don't just talk!
I feel like a lot of this is rambling from a heart that is broken, yet still called. We can't foster anymore because of the size of our fam, but we will forever be a part of the system and coming along side those in the trenches. No matter who you are, married, single, have kids, are grandparents, find a way to be the difference in this broken system. Babies should not be dying. Babies should not questioned if someone in this world loves them. One of my favorite Bible verses (Luke 12:48) is "to much is given, much is required." That is me, I have been given so much, I am so grateful to be called to be required much. You have much.....give much.
Disclaimer: Knox was not part of the "system". His birthmom loves him more than he will ever fathom (more than I can fathom). She is an amazing mother who took amazing care of him, but knew and CHOSE for him to be in our family because she felt we could give him a life that she, for now, cannot. She will forever be a part of our family. She is a hero, she is my hero. She gave me a son and allowed me to be his mother and I pray every day I can live up to this mighty calling. Step in, do the uncomfortable, love others....our family is better and bigger thanks to our sweet baby boy and his birth mom who we now love as family.