Not long ago, I talked about the impact that adoption and foster care can have on children already in the home. I mentioned the ways that we have seen hardship enter our children’s lives through the open door of adoption and foster care. A few days after I wrote that post, I was scrolling through old pictures and ran across so many beautiful images of our older children welcoming our younger children home – and then more pictures of all four of our kids with our foster children. It reminded me of how very thankful I am for these experiences in our children’s lives.
My children have regular opportunities to welcome vulnerable people into their home and their lives. This means sharing bedrooms, sharing belongings, sharing parents, sharing time. It means sometimes sacrificing their own needs to meet the needs of someone else. These could be looked at as things that have “taken away” from my kids.
But my children have gained something immeasurable and not easily attained. At young ages, they have had daily practice in the virtue of putting others first.
While it hasn’t always been easy for them, and while we as parents haven’t always navigated it all with perfect grace, I can see this take hold and grow in them. As a mother, I can list the ways I believe that the open door of adoption and foster care have benefited my children.
* They have gained an ability to see into people’s circumstances and to practice empathy, compassion, and service.
* It has given them flexibility. They have certainly learned that the world does not revolve around them.
* They continually witness and practice real world skills. They are learning how to navigate conflict, how to contribute to calming stressful situations, how to work with professionals and care providers, how to seek resources and assistance, and how to advocate for themselves and for others.
* They see proof every day they can live missionally – not just on mission trips or weekend service projects – but in the very fabric of their everyday family life.
As I thought about this topic and what I see growing in my children, I asked each of them to share with me one positive way that they think adoption and foster care have impacted their own life…
Adoption and foster care have helped me to see people’s hardships and understand them more than I would have before. (Mia, 17)
(Mia with our preemie foster baby who had just come home to us after seven weeks in NICU)
Adoption and foster care have probably helped me build character traits like patience and compassion. (Noah, 15)
(Noah with our refugee foster daughter, painting her nails for a princess breakfast with Dad)
Foster care gives you a chance to play with somebody new. It has also made me very good at taking care of babies and little children. (Jaso, 13)
(Jaso with our refugee foster daughter after fixing her hair in sweet afro puffs)
Knowing kids who have hard problems gives me a chance to help teach them things that will help them. (Avi, 12)
Hearing their words gave me joy. Aren’t these the very things we want to see in our children?
I don’t know how else I might see understanding, compassion, patience, or caretaking grow in my children if I shielded them from the opportunities to practice them.
May I not let my instinct to protect my children from difficulty instead lead me to stand in the way of what God purposed to do in each of them when He called our entire family to serve Him through adoption and foster care!
with hope and gratitude,
for more about our family’s foster care experience, read Room for More and How Will Adoption and Foster Care Impact My Children?