Being a foster parent means each day you wake up with the reality that each day you could add a new member to your family. I have learned to always be a little ready, with clothes of all sizes and car seats tucked away in our closets. In under 3 hours I have gotten a call and picked up babies from shelters, courtrooms, hospitals and previous foster homes.
It seems each little one that has come no matter how long they stay, we manage to have room. Each day our hearts are being prepared for them and we don’t even know it. Sometimes that has been actual physical space, in the foster care world not every call answered “yes” means that a child will actually make it to my home. I have had plenty of times I said yes, got things ready, only to have the placement plan changed. Those let downs can be disappointing however those moments have caused us to make space and prepare for someone else.
One month before our Baby Boy was born we had a little guy, Baby Z. His stay was short but we made space for him and once he was placed with relatives we had an empty crib and baby gear that was ready. Right before Christmas our sweet Baby Boy joined the family, filling the void we had.
Two weeks before Little One entered our life again, I was matched with a 2 year old girl. I got the bed ready, dresser set up, clothes put out. The day before I planned to pick her up, I was told they placed her with a relative. I was disappointed for we were excited and ready to expand our family but that season of disappointment was short lived. The space we made was filled by our Little One, coming home for the third time.
This spring I got the call for a teen mom and her baby girl. That week we upgraded vehicles and prepped our spare room. We made a space for them, they ended up not needing a home so we waited 2 weeks later I got the call for our Little Man and 2 months after that the call for Bear Cub came. We were ready, we had the space.
I used to be so sad when those moments would happen, like we missed out on something. A few years and some hindsight under my belt has taught me that all along God has been strategically building my family. Allowing me to find the courage to say yes, make room and then send me exactly who I needed.
It is so easy to look at those moments with the perspective of loss but in all reality they are pivotal moments that place us on the path we need to be on. Each call I get I carefully ponder and pray over. I check the facts and imagine the needs of the child. I assess our strengths as a family and pair it with the age, gender and behaviors of the child. I make my decision in a matter of minutes listening to my gut.
Once it seems like a fit, we get to work pulling out beds, rearranging furniture, making space we prepare for the unknown. I have learned to look at the things of life that don’t go my way as opportunity. A chance to see what God will do and how He will work. A lesson for me on how to be flexible and the honor of seeing something greater unfold.
Creating space has become a favorite daily practice, I am watching to see where I can create more spaces. Whether it is physical space in a room and around our table, or emotional space for one more story heard and heart connected. It is a practice that keeps me looking for opportunity, aware of the world around me.
So in this season of Thanksgiving, I look at the faces of the seven who call me Mama. The little souls I am so thankful I made space for, on days when I was tired, sad or just overwhelmed. The ones who stories connected with my heart, the ones we made space for. We will continue to be a family that sees others and makes room.