Last week our family was presented at an adoption matching for a 3 month old baby boy. I normally don't pay much attention to matchings because the odds of us being chosen are generally low. But this time, I really really hoped we would be chosen as a match for this little guy. I told myself that our chances were good this time, for various reasons. Well, we weren't chosen. If we had been chosen, we would have gotten a phone call from our caseworker by the end of the business day. But when 5 o'clock rolled around with no phone call or email, we assumed we weren't chosen. My reaction was less than mature. I was in a gloomy funk the rest of the evening and the next morning. Why? Because I didn't get what I had started to want most: a child who would join our family for good.
As much as I try to forget about it, buried deep down is a part of me that is still sad about not being able to have any more children, despite nearly four years of efforts. It was almost four years ago that we lost our third son through miscarriage, followed by three years of infertility, and it's been almost one year since we started foster care. That's a long time to be struggling with the unfulfilled desire for more children. I credit God and his undeserved grace for helping me let go of most of the discontent I held on to for so long. But there is still a nagging piece that won't let go.
Up until recently, I've found joy in being a foster parent. I’ve been content to welcome little ones, even when we know from the outset that their stay will be temporary. I’ve been able to keep in the forefront of my mind the reasons why we got into foster care to begin with: to serve God by loving and caring for little ones who need a loving family, however temporary it may be. The selfish pull was always there in the background, but I was always able to push it away. But then my mind got lazy. Without really meaning to, I stopped relying on God for my strength to do foster care and I stopped praying about how we can be used to bless others. I allowed myself to start longing for another child, a child we wouldn't have to say goodbye to.
I realized that my motives had changed and were no longer rooted in self-denial and sacrificial love. While these terms sound may lofty and pious, in reality they are amazingly freeing, when compared to the burden of longing and jealousy. Instead, I was feeling discontent at not being able to add to my family. I felt it when we accepted our last placement but at the time I didn’t see if for what it was. I should have realized it when I was a bit too anxious for him to leave, since I knew there was no hope of keeping him (which I am ashamed to admit). I should have realized it when I was short with my children for no reason. When I was annoyed at having to wake up twice a night with a hungry newborn. When I ceased relying on God for my strength and tried to do everything on my own. I was quite humbled to have all of these realizations. It took a few days for it all to sink in.
I've been asking God to change my heart. To give me a heart that would love these children without any thought of return. Or any thought of keeping one. To make me content with my two children and help me see them for the blessings that they are.
I've been meditating on this verse:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
It is humbling to realize that all the little feelings and struggles I'm having are transient. They will only last for a short time, when compared to the span of eternity. What is eternal is choosing to do the right thing. Which for me at this time is to care for children on a temporary basis. It's comforting to realize that whatever struggles (which are admittedly very minor compared to what others are going through and what Paul was referring to in this verse) I'm going through are momentary and light. That is a huge change in perspective compared to my short-sighted longing for adding more children to my family.
With all that said, I am now eager to get back into foster care. We promised ourselves we would take time off until after Thanksgiving, and we will stick to that plan. But I'm looking forward to making that call saying "Yes, we're ready for more children."