Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More on Deck Clearing . . . Sort Of

Last week I posted about God telling me he was clearing my decks. I'd had several pretty difficult setbacks, and it seemed God telling me he was preparing me for a storm, or a battle, or a wild ride. Okay, God. I got it. Now what?

Two days ago I got an e-mail that brought back some of what I was feeling before. I had to deal with another wave of disappointment and bitterness. I could really tell that Satan was chewing on me. You don't think that disappointment and bitterness come from God, do you? The circumstances hadn't changed, but the bad feelings were back and in new strength. I recognized that pretty quickly and called a brother who prayed for me. He's on the same page with me—we both see these setbacks as an attack. That doesn't make them any easier to ignore, but it does help when dealing with them. Good enough. I knew the source.

Then I got home and we got a phone call from the adoption agency we are certified with. Just as a bit of background, my wife and I got certified to do foster care about a year ago. The thing we want to do is short-term care for newborns. Shan has wanted to do this for years. Basically, we would take newborns into our home and care for them while their adoptive parents are getting paperwork done, getting ready, and getting final approval. Normally, this would be 10 days or so at a time. Except we've not had any newborns yet. We've waited a year with nothing. This is a relatively small agency, and apparently it has suddenly become trendy for unwed teen moms to keep their babies, and so they do . . . for a while. Then, after the novelty wears off and they realize how hard it is to raise a child, some of them give the child up for adoption. So we haven't had any babies yet.

At any rate, the phone call from the agency asks if we can take in two toddlers; twin 2 ½-year-old boys. I could hear Shan on the phone saying things like, "We're not set up for toddlers," and "I really need to talk to my husband about that." After a bit more listening, she hangs up.

"What's up?" I asked. It seems that the mother of these boys wants to voluntarily give them up for two to three months while she gets her act together. We don't know, but in these situations it's usually for a period of drug rehab.

Wow. Instead of a single newborn, they want us to take two toddlers. We don't have beds, car seats, high chairs, etc. They said they could get those things to us. We never wanted to do long term foster care because we know, absolutely know that we will get very, very attached to these kids, and adoption is not in our future. Nursing homes might be in our future, but not adoption.

So we talked about it. I asked Shan what was in her heart, and she kept saying things about how much need there was. That wasn't what I wanted, so I kept asking, and she finally said, "I think my heart says we should take them."

Dinner was ready, so we sat down to eat, and when I prayed, I prayed mostly about this decision. We talked some more, and I mentioned God's word to me about clearing my decks. Maybe this was what he meant. Shan's eyes got really big.

Then we called Rachel, our daughter, who was at a friend's house. She's a big consideration in these things. Her immediate response was, "Get them!" Rachel can be uncertain about some things, but this was not one of those.

After dinner, Shan and I sat together and prayed for guidance and direction. As I prayed, I could feel God give me the answer. I guess Shan felt it, too, because as soon as I said Amen, we looked at each other and I said, "We have to do this." She said, "You're right," and immediately called the agency. The agency told us that CPS was talking with the mother, and they would get back to us in about an hour.

At that point we went into action. (I started to say we sprang into action, but we don't do a lot of springing anymore.) The front room has been used as a storage place for a while. We got the bed cleaned off and started washing the sheets, because we knew if we had two toddlers just taken from their mother that there would be some tears and difficulties at bedtime. Shan could sleep in there with them at first. We moved a bunch of stuff out, mostly things that should have been put in the attic after Christmas, and we cleaned up. I ran our lousy vacuum and wished for perhaps the eleven thousandth time that we'd replaced it. But we got the room tidy and ready for two little boys. I kept saying, "Are we stupid, or what?" and Shan kept laughing. It felt really good to be doing this.

An hour or so later, the agency called. CPS would not agree to pay the agency's fees for a temporary foster care situation. Those fees are not extensive, and most, perhaps all, would come to us to pay for all the care that little kids need. If I remember correctly, our agreement is that we get $25 a day per child. It has to cost CPS more than that to put a child into their system. But it's likely a turf thing. We are not in the CPS system. The agency has a policy that they cannot accept temporary foster kids without the fees. They just don't have the money to do it. In an adoption, those fees typically come from the adoptive parents. That couldn’t happen here. The mother has no money, CPS won't release any, and the agency doesn't have it.

So, no kids. What a let-down! After going through all the emotional strain of deciding we would take them, they were snatched away. It was quite the roller coaster ride. We felt flat, and tired, and confused. We had already begun to fill up with love for these two little boys—and we hadn't even met them! Then . . . nothing. I presume the children are now in the custody of CPS, and I pray that they are receiving the love and care they need.

And I still don't know why God is clearing my decks.

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