Dear ENCOUNTER Church Family,
Last Mother’s Day we formally met. I was invited to share my story. My call is to do foster care as a full time working, single woman. I had just brought home a 2 day old and a 9 year old, 10 days before we met. J and Maui (their nicknames) have now been with me 356 days.
This past year has been filled with ups and downs. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. From learning who we are as individuals, as a family, struggles in missing home, all the while juggling a very complicated schedule. Our schedule consists of meetings with social workers, therapy sessions with 5 different specialists, doctors’ appointments, juggling 2 court appointed advocates, weekly visits with birth parents, and then there’s work, school, baseball, a new puppy, and a partridge in a pear tree! For us, normal is not a word in our vocabulary.
However, just when we had found our groove, our new normal, we were thrown another curve ball. On February 15, while I was at work, I received a call telling me a baby sister was born and would I be willing to take her in? How do you say no? But yet the doubt flooded my brain. Three? Three!! God! What are you doing me? To us? Maui is still a baby. I’m one mama, single with an already crazy schedule. Yet saying no didn’t feel right.
The next day we brought home Hale, who was born 5 weeks early and was a tiny little thing. With her arrival, so much was unknown. I was anxious about how the boys would react, how to make this work, and then I felt frustrated with the position I was put in as to determine what was best for all of us. I wanted to make sure everyone was okay and where they needed to be. I had not planned that she would stay, but God kept closing doors for her to be placed elsewhere. Although her case is still in the early stages, we as a family have decided that she will stay with us for whatever length of time she needs. So we now have become a family of 4 and a puppy.
In foster care there is no control. Trusting God has been really difficult at times, as I am not sure what the future holds. It is completely terrifying. I’m thinking…I need a bigger car and eventually a bigger home. However, I strangely feel very little stress about it, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have no control. Some days I handle this better than others, but I believe that if this is what God is asking of me, then God will provide.
Foster care is not just caring for the children that come into my home, but for their families. I was recently humbled and reminded of the importance of grace and mercy for birth parents. The kids’ mom wrote me a beautiful letter thanking me for being the one person who has stuck with her in the most difficult time of her life. Her gratitude in me caring for her children as she works to help herself get to a better, healthier place brought me to tears. She thanked me for loving all three of them so deeply and unconditionally and her as well. It is easy to see birth parents as bad guys, but I have been convicted of remembering that God calls even the least of these and the broken. That love is the greatest gift you can give to anyone regardless of circumstances.
This journey of caring and loving in foster care is one that is not meant to be done alone. This is where ENCOUNTER has made a significant difference in my life and family and where your pages have met mine/ours. It takes a strong support system to make this work. You were there, as our extended family the minute I knew the boys were coming to live with me. And then again, when their baby sister was born, ENCOUNTER was there with no hesitation. I can’t even begin to count the ways you have come alongside our family over the past year. You cooked us meals, brought clothes, diapers, supplies, you came and did our laundry, cleaned our home, brought coffee, held a baby, gave J and I one on one time, took J out for special outings, but perhaps most importantly, you prayed for us and encouraged us during our adjustment and were there to encourage us through all the court dates. You’ve provided J a safe place to learn about God and His greatness and the ability to help us overcome any obstacle thrown our way. You’ve provided Foster Parents Night Out, which is often the only time that I have me time, time to take care of myself, so that I can continue to take on the highs and lows. I can drop them off and know that they are safe, loved, and well cared for.
More importantly, with the many unknowns in this journey, this can often leave us on edge with anxiety. There were, and are many times, when I was unable to pray as I struggled with anger or lack of trust. But there you were, continuing to pray for us, support us, and love us!
I cannot express enough the gratitude and love I have for all of you. You have helped me maintain my family and kept us swimming. Trusting God’s plan can be extremely difficult, but because of your support, consistency, and encouragement, I know God is providing in ways seen and unseen through our ENCOUNTER family.
The Lauer Ohana (family)