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And then there were… four (on foster parenting)

September 23, 2011

Lest the grandparents need resuscitation, this is not an announcement of pregnancy.  We are preparing to be the proud foster parents of a ten-year old, who has long been dear to our hearts and never far from our prayers (calling her J to protect her privacy).  I have fallen off the blogging wagon–gone rogue–for a few weeks in the whirlwind of surprising developments that led to this happy-sad announcement.  (While we grieve that any child can’t be with her own parents, we are so happy to have her in our family for a while).

The last week has been a strange crash course in the foster care system.  The court proceedings, for one, were very strange.  All involved parties sit together in a waiting room until the case is called, including: the investigator bringing a case against the parents, both parents, the child, everybody’s lawyers, and other concerned relatives or friends such as myself.

In our case, we waited for three and a half hours together.  Awkward would be an understatement.

Then you all go in the courtroom.  Accusations fly.  A verdict is handed down from the judge.  (The entire trial took 10 minutes.)

Then you leave and all get on the elevator together for the quietest ride of your life.

(Note:  I am thankful that at least Dan wasn’t there for the elevator part.  Something about elevator awkwardness inspires a sort of madness in him.  Last time we packed ourselves into an elevator at the mall he tried to start a flash mob by singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  Only there is no such thing as a one man flash mob.  And not one of the twenty people on the elevator even smiled.  All that to say that, in my opinion, Dan just makes the elevator ride worse.)

So, I sat for over three hours with this unusual assortment of people.  At one point, I observed, “It must be interesting to be a judge.”

“Yes,” little J piped up cheerfully, “Meeting lots of new people…smelling lots of interesting smells.”

Have you even considered all the things a judge gets to smell in a days work!

The decision, this week, to add to our numbers is not without a back story.  In brief, J and her mother came into our lives eight years ago.  We love her mother so much and were honored to be part of her life and introduce her to Jesus and witness her baptism.  She joined our church and eventually enrolled J at Hope Academy.  But then we lost them for a few years.  And we missed them so much, and prayed for them, and were always watching down the road.

This week, J’s mother told me, “All of these years I’ve been away, I’ve thought about my baptism every day.”  At family court yesterday, she named our family as her next of kin. This story has not unfolded the way I thought it would or wished it would.  But I still see the hand of God, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows…who places the lonely in families” (Ps. 68:6).

Many times in her absence we’ve wondered why we felt called to invest years in a relationship with J’s mother.  But always, there were in the back of my mind, Russ Gregg’s (founder of Hope Academy) words, “Nothing we do for Love is ever wasted.”

I recently read Home, by Marilyn Robinson. She paints a beautiful and heart-wrenching picture of a father’s love for his prodigal son.  The father prays to the end of his life for his son.  The answer to his prayers come surprisingly, not in the reform of his own son, but in the return home of his son’s son.

The book ends with the anticipated return of the grandson:

“He will talk to me a little while, too shy to tell me why he has come, and then he will thank me and leave, walking backward a few steps, thinking, Yes, the barn is still there, yes, the lilacs, even the pot of petunias.  This was my father’s house.  And I will think, He is young.  He cannot know that my whole life has come down to this moment.

That he has answered his father’s prayers.

The Lord is wonderful.”

And so our lives have come down to this moment.

More later.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Not your Grammie permalink
    September 23, 2011 7:20 pm

    I am overwhelmed. Prayers for your loving and open-armed family.

  2. Shanna Lehn permalink
    September 23, 2011 7:33 pm

    Thanks for filling us in Lucy. We will be praying for this transition.

  3. Not your Grammie permalink
    September 24, 2011 4:47 pm

    When I re-read this, I found myself laughing out loud at Dan in an elevator singing to 20 strangers who DID NOT SMILE at all. Couldn’t get any funnier than that!

  4. September 25, 2011 4:37 am

    thanks for sharing – may God bless you all as you continue to faithfully love one of God’s children.

  5. September 25, 2011 8:38 am

    I’m crying for some reason, Lucy. I think it’s because I see the love of Jesus flowing from you and Dan. Praying for you–and for J.

  6. September 27, 2011 7:32 pm

    I LOVE that quote… (and even quoted it on my site). What a great reminder to live in the light…. thank you!

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