The Strength for Foster Care – Perseverance

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 in Orphan Care

Foster care is one of the greatest callings and privileges a person can have. I recall our training sessions as we were considering foster care. The many stories shared and testimonies of difficult times and personal struggles. Stuff on paper and real life stories are a tremendous help…

 WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE QUITTING!

There, I said it. It might come days into a placement. It might take hours or it might take weeks. But there will be times when you hear yourself say, “This isn’t what I signed up for!” My goal is to provide some encouragement for you in those times… again, on paper and real scenarios. I realize (because I’ve been there) that no one can totally empathize with you in your circumstance with your child(ren). But I can come fairly close – because I have walked in your shoes.

Allow me, if you will, to think out loud in an effort to steer you through the difficult times.

(1) When you feel like quitting, when you hear that voice say, “This isn’t what I signed up for,” then remember this… IT IS WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR! I don’t say this to manipulate you or discourage you or to put you off or to make you fell that you have failed. I say it because it is true. The attachment issues and the discipline issues and the trauma issues associated with separation – with separation, with separation… I am not being redundant, but reminding you that your child(ren) come to you with baggage, some more, some less, but all bring it. I could tell you that there are more joyful days than remorseful… and that is probably and I pray the truth. But always remember… this is what you signed up for – and these times will test you and try you. Which leads to…

(2) When you feel like quitting, examine your walk with Christ. How are you doing spiritually? Are you persevering in the spiritual disciplines? How is your time in the Word, your devotional life and your quiet times? What about your prayer life? Is it consistent or do you pray only when exasperated? What about your time in the Word with family in devotions? Your church attendance? Your gospel living? etc.  I am not trying to be legalistic but trying to point out that with your placement comes a lifestyle change. Schedules are disrupted (schedules?) and sometimes one of the first things to suffer is our consistent time with the Lord.  You will need to guard your heart and protect your walk with Him… because He is your strength! Remember Jesus’ words: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:5, 7; emphasis mine). Do you see the importance of walking with Him, abiding in Him? Of walking and asking? Remember, Christ is your strength.

(3) When you feel like quitting, examine your biological family relationships. Again, fostering brings a disruption to the daily routine. Foster children, even in the best of situations, require your attention and care. And as you tend to them, your family might pay the price. Remember, while these foster children are precious to God, and your calling to foster is important if you are called, your family is priority. There may come a point in a placement that you simply can’t continue for the sake of your own family. This does not mean you are not called to foster care. It means not now. You cannot reasonably or possibly be a primary caregiver for everyone. Yes, you must remember that another relocation will bring another separation, another “trauma”  for the foster child, but you must also remember the opportunity you have at that moment to teach and to model the importance of family. If there is going to be a relocation, talk with the children about why… It is because you love them that they are going to a new home. It is because you love your own children and family and they need you now. It is not because of them (foster children) that they are relocating.

Having examined your calling, your spiritual life, and your family situation, when you feel like quitting…

(1) Remember that you are not alone! Many are on the same journey of foster care. You will need them, especially when you feel like quitting. Build relationships with them… you will find that you can laugh with them and cry with them. All of you will encounter difficult days. Remember one another.

(2) Remember those you meet along the way that are involved in foster care. It is likely that you got into this based upon the recommendation of someone else who is already involved. You can draw upon them and their experiences as well.

(3) Remember you organizations team. You might feel that you are admitting failure if you call your worker with difficulties – or worse, that they will think you are a failure. Nothing is further from the truth. Your organization is there for you – especially in the trying times because they know trying times are normal. Use them – that is what they exist for – for you in times of difficulty.

(4) Remember respite care. I repeat – remember respite care. I cannot stress this enough, so I will say it once more – REMEMBER RESPITE CARE! If you feel like quitting, it could be you just need a break. A couple of days or even a week can go a long way in refreshing you – body and soul. Respite care exists for time such as these! You need not feel a failure because you need a break. As mentioned earlier, foster care will bring a lifestyle adjustment. Respite care can help the adjustment from being totally disruptive. Our family has been committed to mission trips each year and we continue to go. We still take family vacations apart from the foster children.  You might need to celebrate the holidays with family apart from foster children. This is what respite is for – so please use it. And while I am on the subject – be a promoter of the need for respite care. Encourage others to consider giving of their time in this needed ministry.

So, when you get discouraged (and you will), when you feel like quitting (and you will), then consider these things. But foremost, be encouraged by these words from Hebrews which speak to your race in foster care:

Hebrews 12:1-2 – [1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

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