For me, the first whisper of fostering I remember came around 19-20 years old. I was watching a news story about children aging out of the system, and a small seed was planted.
How could these children be alone?
Where are the families to take them in?
It worked in my heart for years, slowly distilling into an urgent calling. Each Sunday, I would kneel after communion and a weight would settle onto my heart, my children are out there.
Following an ectopic rupture in 2010, I felt a firm push that now, now was the time. After nearly a decade of slowly growing in intensity, the call was sounding loudly. I felt we'd done what we could with what we knew in terms of my fertility and God was saying that we needed to look outside our own biology with our family. The answer wasn't in us, it was outside us.
So, slowly, my husband and I began talking about fostering, what it would look like in our lives, whether we both felt comfortable with it. I somewhat jokingly refer to myself as the "gas pedal" and my husband as "the brake". You need both for a safely moving car, so it's a good pairing, but one that can cause tension. Perhaps the holy tension of two souls making their path to heaven, perhaps a little less holy and more frustration filled, depending on the day.
My jump into fostering was a wild leap with abandon. My husband took some time, made sure we had the information and resources we needed, and then he walked into it with the bravery and determination of a man who knows he's embarking on a difficult journey.
Our foster placements have taught me the hard lesson many parents learn in the loss of a child, these souls aren't mine. There is no guarantee. They are the purest form of what God is calling us to with each of our children, care for them, all in, all the way until they don't need us anymore. Slam straight into the wall of love and loss so that they can know the complete love we're all striving to give our children.
I have heard we are brave for fostering. I have heard people say that they don't know how we could do it because they would get too attached.
I don't feel brave. I feel worried and uncertain and blind to what my future looks like. But, we all have pieces of our journey that ask bravery, of which we're uncertain. We all walk through some area of our lives with our hands along the wall, feeling for the next step.
This is my family's, and it maybe looks a little radical if it's not yours. We go in scared of loving and losing, we get too attached, but this is our calling. This is the voice of God that leaves no rest until answered. The Holy Spirit called, increasingly loudly, urging me to jump. I could feel the unrest in my soul building until we leapt. Now, it's the peace of the flight, the landing is left to God. It may be a crash landing where we are built again anew, it may be a sweet story of how our family grew, but always our hearts are growing in the gift of giving them away.