Wednesday, April 8, 2015

From 'Foster Kid' to 'Pastor's Kid' {And the Change in Me}

It was a beautiful fall day....nice and sunny, and warm enough to still have all the windows in the house open. The three big kids were at school, Mike was at work, and I was enjoying a peaceful day at home--just me and the 16 month old. A quiet day of sorting, washing, and folding laundry.

I brought up a basket of warm, clean clothes from the laundry room and dumped it onto the floor.  Charlie squealed and ran over to the pile and plopped right on top. He giggled, threw socks up in the air, and giggled some more. He stood up, flopped back down, threw more clothes, giggled, and continued the routine over & over.

My hands stopped mid-fold and I just watched. Charlie had no idea of the momentous thing that was scheduled to occur in a month--his adoption. A boy completely unaware of how God had dramatically shifted his life when his birth parents surrendered their rights.  When, in that moment, Charlie's case moved from a murky 'return home' status that didn't look like would ever happen, to a clear 'adoption status' within our family.

Charlie was switching from "Foster Child" to "Pastor's Kid"...a move that would replace a history of brokenness. A history for which I now had far more empathy; parents who couldn't really parent because they had never experienced love or goodness themselves.  Parents who had both experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, and for one of Charlie's parents, their own foster care journey.  Parents who themselves had been robbed of safe and secure childhoods. My attitude had shifted from irritation towards birth parents ("How can you be so irresponsible and not know how to get your act together?") to utter sadness ("Why weren't you given the chance to be protected?").

And I offered up a prayer of gratitude from the depths of my soul: "Lord, thank you. Thank you for breaking the generational cycle with Charlie."

What happened next is something I haven't experienced in such a way prior, and might possibly never experience again. Because God responded with words I heard clear as day: "But don't you see LeAnne?  I broke the generational cycle with YOU."

I dropped the laundry, dropped to my knees, and began to sob. It was so easy for me to see the messiness of other's lives that I had failed to see the change within my own. Don't get me wrong; Mike and I were both raised by parents who constantly gave (and still give) to others. We'd each done mission trips, had volunteered since we were teens, and had numerous jobs (both paid and volunteer) that involved serving & helping others.  It was a precedent set by our parents that we had continued within our own marriage.

But the biggest thing about all those "good things"?  They were temporary; we could serve, help, give, provide for, and encourage others, and then go back to our everyday lives.  At the end of the day, we could retreat to the safety and security of our own home.

By becoming foster parents, we had done something brand new--instead of shutting out the messiness, we had invited it right in and introduced it to our kids.  Caseworkers. Parents who weren't married to each other.  Dads in jail. Moms who had abused drugs. Licensing workers who make sure our house passes inspection.  All things that result in the same event; kids who aren't allowed to live with their own mom and dad. And since they couldn't live at their own home, they lived in ours.

I'm so thankful God moved us out of our "Christian Bubble" and asked us to serve within our home. Our kids were 9, 7 & 5 when we became a licensed foster family. Now, at 14, 13 & 10 I see how God is already giving them a world view that allows them to serve in a greater fashion than I ever did at such a young age. They don't have stereotypes regarding foster care because they live the real thing. They know every case is unique in and of itself, and sometimes the successful outcome means a child goes home, and other times it means a child needs to be adopted. Our kids know that every child deserves love, and they pour it out so very naturally to every child who stays with us.

And for the children who stay and become our biological kids' legal & forever siblings? That's a more precious sight and relationship than I could ever properly put into words. God has blessed us beyond measure, changed my life for the better, and I cannot wait to see the ways He grows and shapes our kids to keep serving Him.

copyright 2015 LeAnne Klopfenstein

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