Monday, October 23, 2017

Foster Care: This "stuff" matters

I should probably stop keeping track of all the things I've cried about in our journey foster care so's getting to be too much to count. But the most recent things, were actually literally "things". Starting with this backpack. Our girls didn't come to us with much, so when our case worker came with welcome bags full of gifts and necessities, tailored to their age and gender, our 5-year-old lit up. She ooh'ed and ahh'ed over every single thing in her bag (Toothpaste! Socks! My very own crayons!), but she especially loved the backpack itself. She told us she hated her old backpack (a logo'ed freebie from a local early education program) and was so excited to have one that didn't make her "look like a boy". 

This sparkly wonder came with a matching lunchbox, which was an answer to a prayer so simple I hadn't even taken the time to actually form it...feeling silly about asking for something so basic. I was stressed about getting all the little pieces in place for her to start school on Monday (today!) and a lunch box was one of those pieces. Apparently where Amazon Prime falls short, Jesus steps in. 

She clutched her new treasures- smelling her Minions body wash, and inquiring about the "charger?" (actually a new nightlight), while I teared up over the simple goodness of "things" and how they can mean so much. 

A few days later, "things" struck again, and I found myself crying in the clearance aisle of a Philadelphia-area Walmart. I had wanted to pick up a few uniform pieces so she could have some school clothes of her own (vs. splitting Piper's already pretty meager collection) but after a little searching it seemed most places were out of stock at this point in the season. I called Walmart, thinking they'd have to have something, but the associate said there wasn't much left. But I sneaked out during the little kids' naptime anyway, hoping juuuuuuust maybe they had a few remaining things that could work.

And lo and behold- they had racks full of things. Skirts and polos and pants...more than enough to create a suitable wardrobe for our kiddo (and all on sale!) So I stocked up, hitting a few bonus aisles as well (Halloween candy, a new bike helmet, some surprise trinkets for the car trip home). I pushed my cart, and I cried over the abundance of it all; overwhelmed by the needs, but also by this gift of being able to do something tangible for these girls; to show them love and provision in the simplest of ways. 

We've had these kids just over a week...and it has been HARD. They are lovely little girls, and are adjusting as well as could possibly be expected but it is still HARD. We are exhausted tending to the needs of five little ones, especially piled on top of an extra-busy time in our household. (Five people's needs seem to magnify when you're trapped in a car for 16 hours over a long weekend). I second-guess myself constantly, not sure if I'm doing the right thing for anyone. And though I'm familiar with the doubt and guilt  of motherhood when dealing with my own kids, it's a whole new level to worry about letting these new kids down. The stakes are higher when it's someone else's kids; kids who have already been through pain and trauma and loss. 

So I cry over "things". Because they are so much more than stuff. A backpack is a sign that she is worthy, and special. A lunchbox is a sign that my needs (however small) are not forgotten. A bargain rack full of skorts is a physical example of the  blessings God has laid out for our family. 

There are so many needs to be met, and so many ways I'm not as good at this as I would like. But simultaneously there are infinite ways I can love these kids well, one "thing" at a time. 

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