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I remember hearing someone knock on our door in the middle of the night. I was woken up by my biological mom packing a bag and crying, telling me I need to wake up. I cried and cried because I didn’t understand what was happening as I was put in a car with a stranger (who later became my social worker). My older brother who was 8 years old at the time held my hand in the car and said everything would be okay. I remember finally falling asleep and waking up to Mary, our social worker gently shaking me awake. My older brother was gone, they said he went to live in a different home but would visit soon. I walked into the home I would live in for the next 3 years. I was scared, terrified and only 5 years old.
So this is what I remember of my first experience in foster care. I remember gentle words being spoken to me by my new foster mom, Tania, how she gently touched my hair and showed me a warm bed. How she never pushed me to talk to her but gently and lovingly cared for me and showed me genuine compassion and love.
As a child we were in a difficult and complicated situation. My older brother and I were being physically abused by my biological mom’s lesbian partner. I remember one time we had to crawl out a window to escape the abuse and call our Grandma at a neighbor’s home. Soon after that incident, we were taken by social services and a police escort in the middle of the night because of the possibility my biological mom might have run off with us. It’s a hard place to be as a child when all you know is your home and one minute you are sleeping and the next in a car...alone.
I am so so thankful for my first foster home I grew up in. Tania, my foster mom, was an older lady, she lived alone (except for a dog and a cat) and she loved me, braided my hair, taught me to read and always smiled. She introduced me to American girl dolls and even bought me the Molly one with all the accessories. Yet more than the physical items she gave me and gifted me with she treated me as one of her own. She had 3 sons who were grown up and older and they invited me into their close knit circle with love and compassion.
I grew up in foster care for almost 5 years. I lived in Tania’s for almost 3 years and then I finally was reunited and able to live with my older brother again for 2 years before we were adopted at 14 and 10 years old.
Looking back, I see so much of God’s hand in my story as a child and His security over my life.
I can tell you friends, if you are a foster parent, you are so needed and wanted. The best gift you can give your foster child is to let them feel at home and invited. Don’t suddenly turn your home upside down but let them into the rhythm of your life and family as though they were always there.
So many insecurities, homesick for a parent or pet, crying yourself to sleep at night and missing a sibling might be there and what they need is a gentle hand, comforting words, love and prayer.
A verse that I love so much is