I started working with Every Child with my own internal commitment to be a behind the scenes worker. I'd seen the heartbreak of foster parenting when we adopted our children from care, and I wanted none of that for myself.
When I was asked to be a member of a respite team for a foster mother who had one child in her care, I said yes, thinking this commitment would be minimal, maybe an hour here or there. A few weeks later, the foster mother contacted me needing someone to keep the little girl for a week while she was on vacation. Yes, a full week.
My selfish nature was in full swing at this point. No way did I want to give up my freedom to care for a seven-year old. I was past that point in parenting. My kids were adults and teens. When no one else could be found, I said I'd do it, dreading the moment as it came closer and closer.
Well, that little girl arrived at our home one morning with her bags, ready for a week on the farm, and within a couple hours I was in love! That boundary that was supposed to keep my heart safe had shattered the first time she laughed.
It wasn't just me. My kids and husband felt the same way. It was as if she were a missing piece to our puzzle. When the week ended, we didn’t want to give her back. I couldn’t believe it.
Months later, this kiddo needed to move into a new home, and we were ready to commit anything from a day to a lifetime, no reservations. However, a family member was found, and the girl was moved there. We're still blessed to have this child in our lives. We still provide respite and cherish the opportunities to spend time with her.
We love getting to know the family member who stepped up and took responsibility for this precious child. There are times when loving this kid has been painful, but I've learned that our hearts are not made to be protected. They're designed to love freely, and sometimes that will mean pain, but it also means joy.
-Oregon Foster Parent