My wife and I have been fostering children for about six months now. It has been something God has put on our hearts since we first met, so finally being in a place where we’re able to do it has been a tremendous blessing. But it hasn’t been all rainbows in sunshine. Just like any work God has called a person to do, there’s always going to be hard times in the process.
At first we planned to start out slow with one kid. I stress the statement we planned since God has a knack for laughing at your plans and making His own. We already have two biological kids of our own so adding a third is a huge jump in care, babysitters, food, the works. Soon, after all the parenting class, mountains of paperwork, and getting our home DHS ready, we were praying and waiting for our first placement. Soon, the phone rang and they had placement for us, but it wasn’t one child, it was two boys, a brother set. Quickly our house of two children turned into four, and a month later we had a total of five children in our care.
Just like that our plans were gloriously wrecked and turned into God’s plan. There are plenty of life lessons we’ve learned in this short six-month span, and those posts will be coming soon, but for this post, I want to focus on three words my newest foster kid asked me that sent me spiraling back to my childhood and caused me to reevaluate my life.
But first, let me briefly explain my childhood. To put it simply, I grew up poor. Well below middle class. Despite my parents sticking together my whole life, they had five children; four boys and a girl. My mother didn’t work because they couldn’t afford childcare and my father consistently had issues finding a decent paying job to support a household of seven. I can specifically remember eating ketchup and bread for dinner, or simply going to bed hungry, and my parents crying because they didn’t have food to feed their children. And being a parent today, it’s gut-wrenching to think how my parents must have felt not being able to provide for their children. With all this being said, I also remember visiting various childhood friends’ house and seeing the difference of how they lived verses I, and despite them just barely being middle class, as a child, it was like I was walking into a house featured on MTV Cribs. Because of this, I remember one night I was sitting at dinner at my best friend’s house, living it up by my account, and an overwhelming question I felt I had to ask arose. The same question my newest foster child recently asked me, “are you rich?”
At first I had the same response my childhood friend’s parents had, I simply laughed it off and replied “no” with a humorous smile. Let’s be honest, it’s hilarious when you’re living paycheck to paycheck that someone calls you rich. But after that brief chuckle, my face dropped and I was forcefully pulled back into my childhood self’s mind as I remembered I was once in the exact same mind frame, and the resemblance was uncanny. The resemblance only God’s plans can put you back in. This child also grew up poor, was 8 years old as I was when I asked, and is now also living in a house of seven people, five children and two adults. I was stunned. I simply stood there in awe as God quietly humbled me and simultaneously confirmed I was in His plan. So many emotions crossed my heart. By that simple question, “am I rich?” I was shown that living from paycheck to paycheck was somehow living in God’s plan to God’s plan. I was shown no matter the circumstances in our lives, someone always has it worse. I was shown how powerful opening up your home to someone else is. I was shown how much God has blessed and elevated my life since I was a child. And most overwhelmingly, I was shown everything happens for a reason according to God’s will.
This journey in fostering has just begun, and what I’ve learned and have been taught in these first six months is more than I’ve learned over years of simply living. Patience, strength, counselling, love, discipline and many more qualities have been forced out of me. No matter how many kids we’re called to help in the future, this kid and that question will forever be in my heart.
So never forget, to someone less fortunate, you are rich.
– The Christian Realist
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