Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Slipstream: Expanding Our Family

Years ago, before I started my own family, I foster parented one child, Jamie (some names are changed to protect privacy). He lived with my then husband and me from 2-3 years of age. During that time, I got to know his mother well. Sandra was young and didn't have good family support but complied with everything she was told to do in order to get him back so when he was returned to her, I felt positive about it. Sandra graciously let Jamie remain in our lives and he would visit and occasionally spend weekends with us and was a part of our family for the next few years. When Jamie was 8, Sandra and her partner and their children (they had 3 by this time), moved and I lost contact with them. I consider Jamie my first child and have missed watching him grow up.

My friends Jess and Christina had their baby last Wednesday. I was supposed to have been with them for the birth but my workload had just doubled and I wasn’t able to take off. I went to the hospital to meet baby Evie Wednesday morning and held her for a good while.

On the elevator as I was leaving the hospital, the woman next to me asked me my name and it turned out to be Jamie's mom, Sandra! She was as glad to see me as I was to see her and we had a short catch-up visit in the lobby. Jamie is now 25. Sandra and I exchanged phone numbers and facebook names.

Friday morning, Sandra called me asking if I still do foster parenting. She said that her younger son Philip’s girlfriend’s baby had just been taken to the hospital and was being placed in foster care. The baby was due in September but was born in July. The baby, Mitchell, has some health problems related to being born early and additional ones. Sandra asked me if I can take the baby so he doesn't have to go into foster care with strangers.

I don't believe it was coincidence that I bumped into Sandra last week.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this here but for the past year, I've been working on a sociology project interviewing young adults who have aged out of foster care. I feel a tug toward foster parenting but couldn't consider taking in teens until Finn is older.

Mark and I are 47. I have 3 children and he has 3 granddaughters from his marriage with Ceal but no biological children. We would like a baby together but the odds of conceiving at this advanced age are very slim. We have a lot of love to share.

I’ve written before about the slipstream. My belief is that when we are living according to God's will for us, God puts us in the places we need to be, to learn the things we need to learn, to do the things we need to do in order to serve God. I've had the blessed experience of being in the slipstream. Previously, it has always been positive and uplifting and felt good. What is happening right now feels like the slipstream, as well. It had never occurred to me that the slipstream could be terrifying but that's how it feels: Like God is saying that I need to put on my big girl panties and follow where I'm being guided.

Mark is with me. He is feeling the hand of God in this and is fully supportive. We have had loving affirmation from many people and a Clearness Committee with dear Friends who discerned with us that we are being faithful.

We have an awesome support network around us. My mother lives about 30 minutes away and loves caring for babies. She, as I knew she would, said she will be available to help in whatever way we would need (including caring for the baby when I go out of town for School of the Spirit residencies). The generous, loving members of our community are providing supplies and offers of baby rocking. We have good financial resources. We have a strong, albeit new, marriage.

Thinking the baby would be released from the hospital today and that last night would be our last baby-free night for a while, we had a date with one another. We went out for cheese and then came home and watched the Israeli film “Ushpizin”. Ushpizin is from the Aramaic and means “Sukkot guests”. The film is about an Orthodox Jewish couple who maintain their faith in God during hard times and whose faith is rewarded with a bounty just in time for Sukkot. They give thanks to God for God’s goodness and pray for greater faithfulness which is then tested by the Sukkot guests that visit.

I enjoyed this movie very much the first time I watched it but it really speaks to my condition right now. Mark and I have been given so much together and it is our blessing and our duty to share this with others. I am grateful to God for providing us with this new opportunity to expand our world.

I hadn’t heard anything from Department of Children’s Services since Tuesday and this morning I learned from Sandra that Mitchell was released from the hospital yesterday. I spoke with the caseworker just now who said they are in the process of determining the best placement for Mitchell and have placed him in an already approved home. They will let us know if we need to do anything to facilitate our approval. It may wind up that we are not to have this child after all. I ask for prayers for Mitchell and his mother, Leah, and the people in their lives, especially including his caseworkers. Whether we can provide the best home for Mitchell or not, my love and prayers are with him.


Ana Ibanez said...

What a moving story! I really admire your positive and strong attitude, and your faith in the almighty God that always brings us what we need when we are on the right path. You really listen to Him, and this is great.
My most sincere congratulations!

Friendly Mama said...

Thank you, Ana. I'm in the process of writing an update. DCS feels it is in Mitchell's best interest to have him remain with his current foster home, which makes sense. I pray that he is feeling loved and secure.

Mark and I are waiting, praying and trusting that God will guide us to how we are to be of service.

with love,
Mary Linda