Each day is different. Sometimes she is the sweetest kid. Sometimes she flips out over the littlest thing. But each day is an adventure. It is honestly one of the most challenging things we have ever done. Fostering. But I don't even want to compare that to the challenge that this little one faces.
To be so young and already bounced around to different homes. To not be able to spend holidays and birthdays with your own family. Dealing with feelings that, at that young age, can't properly be processed. It must be a huge challenge. It is hard enough for me to process what we are going through. I can't even imagine what it must be like from the child's point of view.
Someone asked me one time if how she was behaving was “normal”. I basically said yes and no. It depends on what is meant by “normal”. Normal for someone who has lived with the same family all their life and has been taught how to behave properly and has had a steady support system, no. Normal for someone who has been with multiple families, hasn't had a steady support system, hasn't been with her parents for a long period of time, yes.
These children have a normal for them. They behave in ways that is hard for us to understand. But it is normal for them. What is hard for us is to learn how to handle these times. How do we react, and if need be, discipline? How do we discipline and show love at the same time?
Many of these questions can be asked by any parent at any time. But for this child it is a bit different. There is an entire life up to this point that has been lived. What discipline has she already been shown? Was it positive or negative? Was it based on the Word of God?
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
This is a verse parents often lean on when raising their children. We are to train them. We are not to leave their education or training to anyone else. I believe this even applies to foster children. As long as she is in our house it is our responsibility to train her. For now, she is our daughter. No matter how hard it maybe we still need to do this for her sake. We still need to do this because God commands this. God commands this because He made us all in His image and He knows what we need.
Each day is an opportunity to train. This doesn't mean just reading and teaching the Scriptures but also showing all my children that I actually believe what I preach. When I mess up I need to apologize. And believe me, there are days when I mess up. But I need to be honest and present myself as Christ-like as possible so they will see the Jesus I speak of. I need to let all my children know they are as safe as I can make them but at the same time teach them that God is a better father then I can ever be and they are safer with Him.
Sometimes our foster has trouble sleeping. I started telling her something I heard a pastor, Luke Fraser of Island Baptist Church, say that he tells his kids when they are afraid or worried. He looks them in the eye and asks, “do I look worried?” He tells them that if he looks worried then they can worry. What is great is our heavenly Father is not worried. He is in control.
For our foster daughter, most of her life has been out of her control. She often tries to control little things and I'm sure it is because of this. But I pray that she knows the God of the universe Who is in control. I pray even as I assure her as much as I can that I will do all I can to make sure she is safe, secure, and cared for by us. I can't promise her what tomorrow may bring. In fact, none of us truly know what tomorrow holds. So I want her to know the God Who knows all. I want her to know the heavenly Father Who will never leave her or forsake her in Christ. I want her to know that he is in control.
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14
So, is her behavior normal? Yes and no. But I will tell you it has gotten better. I actually started drafting this article a few months ago and we have seen some improvement since then. Are some days still very challenging? Absolutely, but they are worth it. When they are challenging I think of how I often act towards my Heavenly Father. We have all rebelled against Him. Even as adopted sons and daughters into His family, there are still days I don't do as I'm supposed to do. Sometimes I'm disciplined for that. Sometimes I'm shown mercy. However, in Christ, I am always shown grace, and knowing that I desire to live in gratitude towards God.
That is my ultimate hope for all of my children – no matter if they are biological, foster, or adopted. May they know I love them in good times and bad times. But what all of us as Christian parents should desire is they know the heavenly Father loves them no matter what through His Son, Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit of God so convict them to see this and may I always live as I believe so they may believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
May we pray this with the Apostle Paul for all of our children.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19