I was sitting at my desk yesterday, and I thought, “Fostering hasn’t been as scary as what everyone seems to make it out to be.” We’ve had some challenges for sure, but overall, it is going better than what I could have even hoped for.
I want to pause and say that I know some cases are absolutely tougher than others, and I don’t want to speak to anyone else’s experience. But today I want to tell you a little bit about mine.
I’m certainly not an expert yet. But my girls and I have made it through the transition and adjustment period—at least it feels like we have.
For the first 3 days, I felt like their camp counselor…showing them where their bath towels were and getting them snacks.
For the first 3 weeks, I felt like their big sister…catching up and talking fashion, acne, music, and which guy they think is hot in the movie we’re watching. The girls told me to google “eyebrow goals” because I had never heard of that. The girls were sweet to me when they’d tell me that my hair is so soft, but they were definitely not impressed by how I have placed fashion as a very low priority in my life. Lol My sister Rachel literally started crying-laughing when they expressed to her their horror about my jeans and shoes, and my friend Erin told them, “I know. I had to give up on Mary’s fashion years ago.” And I just couldn’t stop laughing either. My girls cannot understand how I hate shopping, but if I could wear the same 5 outfits for the rest of my life, I would die a happy woman.
For the first month, I felt worn out most of the time. I went to my dentist appointment two weeks early and then remembered to pay my electric bill two days late, but whatever, we were fine. Then after the first month, it felt like my body and my mind adjusted to my new schedule and my new demands. The Lord is renewing my strength, just as He promised to me that He would.
And now after 6 weeks, it certainly feels more like mothering to me, and we’re all good with that. We’ve hit a few milestones, and we’re learning together. Last week the three of us were waiting for an elevator, and a lady walked over, carrying her newborn baby. My younger foster daughter pointed to the baby and half-jokingly said, “Aww, Mary, you should have a baby.”
I laughed and winked at her, “You two are my babies right now.” The girls laughed with me, and I said, “But thankfully, you guys sleep through the night, and I don’t have to change any diapers.” They laughed again, and my older foster daughter threw her arms around me because she loves giving spontaneous hugs.
Love Always Leads to More Love
It took me awhile to fall asleep last night. I laid awake in bed, thinking about all that my girls have been through and all that they have to overcome—so yes, it gets to me. Yes, I have to take moments and just stop and pray about it, or my heart will break all over the place. But I am so proud of my girls, and I have so much hope for them.
Every single day, my heart is like “Awwww” and “AHHHHH!!!” but I am continually amazed that God answers my prayers and that (as my friend Christa Hesselink writes) “love always leads to more love.”
I guess I thought that I might lose myself completely in all this, but I’m still me. I guess I feared that I would be so overwhelmed that I would barely be able to keep my head above water, just bobbing up and down, gasping for air, trying not to drown. But it’s not like that at all. I’m still taking the time to rest. I’m still reading and writing because that feeds my soul. I’m still me.
Yes, love always leads to more love. I love my girls, and they love me. And today, I just want you to know that fostering can bring so much love into your life. I’ve heard enough stories and interacted with enough people thus far that I can tell you that the children in our state can’t afford for us to shrink back in fear. We need to be advocates for them; we need to take the time to get to know them and to love and be loved by them.
There are lots of ways to be an advocate for children…
I would so love to hear your stories of how you have reached out to love children. #WeWontShrinkBack
P.S. I read this with my girls last night, and they "approve of this message." :)
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.