On Saturday I bought a suitcase. I bought a suitcase and I came home and held our foster baby and sobbed. Only a few days ago we learned that today our foster girl would likely be moving to live with a relative. This was news that had not been shared with us until after the judge made her decision and we were in shock. Shock, hurt, sadness, and yet hopefulness too, and so we began to pack up our foster child’s clothing and toys. Foster care is designed for family reunification. It is not about the foster parents being super heroes ready to step in and save a child, rather it is about foster parents being willing to open their homes to love a child until he or she is able to return to his or her biological family. Foster care is beautiful yet heartbreaking, and when Leah and I agreed to become foster parents we knew that we were signing up for a painful experience, yet an experience that we believe many Christians should be participating in as to fulfill the commands given to us by God.
Foster care helps display the need for the Gospel. It is a reminder that I need Jesus just as these children need someone to care for them. It is taking up your cross daily (Matthew 16: 24) every time you change a diaper or wake up in the middle of the night to hold a crying child. It is choosing to serve those who need help often at the sacrifice of your own needs and schedule, and at the end of your time with a foster child your heart breaks. But perhaps love is supposed to hurt. When fostering you know a child will only stay a short while, but you will love them as if they are your own.
We will welcome more children into our home. We will love them unconditionally. We will witness the gospel in action. And when time comes for the child to leave us, we will buy them a brand-new suitcase and pray they always know how much they are loved.