Life on Trial

I have a real fear of inspiring people in all the wrong ways. Like the “what not to do” type of almost-cool/daring/yadahyadah Christian woman who tried a lot of things that did not go real well and therefore, inspiring people to not do x, y or z.

So there’s that.

One of those variables in the back of my lovely mind is foster care. Like, golly gee, in the midst of the advocating, the scheduling, the documenting, the crying, the monitoring of visits, the actual, you know, parenting, there’s this concern that someone in the crowd of witnesses is deciding if they will foster-to-adopt or not, and this uncontrolled mess of a scenario is screaming “NOT.” And, like the first-born, over-achieving child-in-a-big-body that I am, I would like to raise my hand and take responsibility for that. Somehow.

And then I think, maybe telling it like it is will only help people make a better decision, not necessarily a different one, than they were already going to make.

Or maybe not.

But this blog is about telling the truth and being open about crisis and struggles and victories and feelings. It is about permitting the ands of life to breathe in recognition that the Shepherd is good and close and big and that He sees things fully. That dichotomies are almost always false choices and there is so much stinkin’ room in Grace for and.

There are about 10-100 articles right now that you can read about the beauty of fostering and the meaning and purpose and theology of opening your home and your heart to a scenario beyond your control for whatever amount of time you are given to nurture and protect that child. They are great and compelling and they are true.

And this is also true: some days, I am a wreck. An externally-composed, inwardly-spiraling wreck.

Here are a few thorns:

  • We feel that this baby is our child, our family, and she probably is not and there is nothing that we can do about either of those things.
  • I have been made to repeatedly feel like I was on trial while trying to protect her from being hurt by someone who actually is.
  • Being a foster parent includes all of the responsibility of being a parent to a child and an assistant to an array of social service professionals, with almost none of the power or choices of either role.
  • Usually, we are her only worldly advocates. And our communication is mistaken for asserting our personal will and for a desire for convenience. Which is actually laughable.
  • I am one of her birthparents’ only friends.
  • One of our time-sensitive financial forms is currently frozen because of being given invalid information and then not finding any help from the powers-that-be in correcting that information.
  • Our personal information was shared with others who should definitely not have received it period, let alone by mail.
  • She has had as many social workers as the months she has been in foster care.
  • We are expected to be highly-trained, capable parents coming into the game but on the field have to defend our spot and perspective in every scenario, in front of every walk-on, with no real back-up.
  • Left at home, she enjoys 2-3 good naps each day but she usually cannot have more than one because of her demanding schedule.
  • She, unlike thousands and thousands of children, has a line of people who want to care for and love her as long as (or as soon as) they possibly can.

Everyone knows that becoming involved in foster care or foster-to-adopt methods of family planning is risky and scary. In broad strokes, we knew it. We knew it would require more patience, more faith, more risk, than we could know. We knew that no matter what scenario we found ourselves in, that loss was part of the story. For the baby, for the birthparent(s), or for our family and our community.

What I didn’t know was all the specifics. (And I LOVE specifics.) All the ways that an originally straightforward case would unravel and unwind and extend and unwind me and extend me to the end of myself, over and over again. I couldn’t know some of the numb places, the silent places, and the yo-yoing of this lifestyle we were catapulted into. I also couldn’t know that peace could somehow touch me in the oddest, most awkward, and unsettling situations. I would have never thought we could do this. But this is something you don’t do until you have to. And even then, it’s through no strength or sometimes even willingness of your own.

I am traveling a mysterious marathon with no pace-setters and no mile markers and no medals. And I still don’t know the specifics I want to know.

Chances are, if you were not scared out of a desire to do foster care or foster-to-adopt by other information and the daunting approval process (“You want to examine my pen drawer?”), you won’t be deterred by our bouquet of and specifics–this and side dish to the beautiful entrée about love and meaning and tender moments. So here it is. In spite of that nagging fear of being the anti-inspirational writer, I share this part. This ashy, confusing and true part of a complicated blessing we treasure and walk through day by day.

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2 thoughts on “Life on Trial

  1. You wouldn’t be a Pruitt if you didn’t decide that you were the answer to everyone else’s questions. That said, don’t let yourself be deceived. Your transparency is inspiring in all the right ways – and the humility inherent in it is honoring to Him. He’s the only one who’s opinion matters in the end.

    I continue praying with a clenched heart because…scary.

  2. Dear Danielle and Ryan,

    I share some of your frustration still, after all these years. We took our 10 year old foster girl after she had been in 5 homes in as many years. Her Mother was in and out of mental institutions. We had a great social worker who was very supportive and helpful but she soon retired to be with her own family. 2 1/2years later after going through a myriad of social workers, she was taken from us and sent to a girls home at the whim of one of the social workers and despite letters from teachers, clergy and friends. 6 months later they called to apologize saying they had made a mistake and that Social worker had been fired and would we take another child.
    I hope that as a grownup Colleen can have a memory of what living in a loving family was like. I would do it again in a minute.
    Love you,
    Grandma

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