It was raining, and we were deliberately late. We didn’t really expect her to turn up, but there she was outside the station as pre-arranged with her umbrella and hold-all, so we took a deep breath and forced smiles, took the baby seat out of the car, kissed the little girl we had cared for for the previous nine months and handed her over to her birth mother who got a hug and a blessing thrown in. Then we drove the mile home. One of the hardest journeys of our life.
She was the first foster child we had to let go. Since then there have been several others. Whether the children have been in our care for 9 days, or three and a half years, it is not easy for us to trust God with their futures or live with the scars of this strange type of loss. But these sacrifices are a small price to pay to help children with very different trust issues and scars. The sacrifices also fade in significance in the knowledge that we are expressing our worship to God as we offer a lifeline of love and consistent care to vulnerable and sometimes difficult children.
Since before we were married we imagined ourselves fostering babies and young children. As a young couple living in Eastern Europe, the orphaned children and babies begging on street corners only made us more determined, although the red tape there was prohibitive for foreigners. Three years later when we returned to the UK we approached a few agencies, but were met with a similar negative response. We felt discouraged. It seemed impossible for us to become the foster parents we had dreamed of becoming.
Three years and three natural kids later, we applied again. Once more we were turned away. Convinced that our family was by no means a finished unit, we tried the natural approach, and spent two years in the shadow of miscarriages.
During those years, unbeknown to us, not only were we learning valuable lessons about parenting (mainly through making mistakes with our own children), we were also learning various other skills that were preparing us for fostering. Our church community reached out to a wide variety of families in crisis giving us an education in wider issues involved. We began teaching children with a range of abilities and disabilities. We had lodgers stay with us from all around the world. We faced up to ghosts from the past, and chips on our shoulders and learned about our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Eventually in 2006 we were finally ready and assessed and approved as foster carers.
Our experience in working with children in care has given us a passion to recruit other Christians into this incredibly vital task. We desperately want the kids we meet and care for who have had a rough start in life to know that people are queuing up to offer them stability and unconditional love, not to think they are rejects with no hope.
Several long weeks after the soggy and speedy goodbye at the station we had a phone call from our social worker to say that it wasn’t going to work out with the birth mum, and ask if we would we take the little girl back. More critically, the experts felt that she would not cope emotionally with a subsequent move, and asked us to adopt her.
So we now have four children, plus one or two others. We make a big impression on our local town with our noisy multi-cultural parade of a family when we all go out together! To anyone reading this, young, old, single, grandparent, why not phone your local social services to discuss the possibility of adopting or fostering. It may change your life, but more importantly it may change the life of a child in need.
KR1SH and M1R1AM KAND1AH