I have come to believe that Foster Care is a better model for parenting in a Christian family than traditional biological parenting. I am continually taught in our daily life how God wants us to parent all of our children because of the things I'm forced to experience as a foster parent with my foster children. Maybe I'm just dense and didn't get it with my biological son and all of you all out there got it right away, but my intuition is that most biological parents take their parenting situation for granted at least on some level, which prevents us from realizing a few truths that I've been blessed to learn the hard way.
Fertility is not a right - When I was growing up (and I"m sure you experienced something similar), I heard a lot about pregnancy prevention. Sex-ed focused on how our bodies worked, how pregnancy occurs, and how to prevent it. Even in the church one of the main reasons to stay away from premarital sex is to prevent "unwanted" pregnancy. So we grow up knowing that if you have sex you will get pregnant. No one really talks about how the majority of women will experience a miscarriage in their life or how technical infertility affects 12% of the population. Unless you had a parent or close relative who experienced infertility, you probably don't hear much about how there is a whole sub-population out there who has to really try to get pregnant. Fertility isn't guaranteed. Yes, it's the way God made us - to reproduce quickly and easily - but with the fall came a curse of difficulty with childbirth - some of that I believe is barrenness.
Live birth is not guaranteed - One of the things you learn really quickly as a foster parent is how little control you have over adding new members to your family. You can always say no, but beyond that you sit and wait until someone calls you. You don't know when that call will come, if it will be a boy or a girl (or both!), how old they will be. You don't get to control any of that. There's no scheduled c-section. No peek at the 20 week ultrasound. Very little ability to plan. In private adoption (or, like in our case where we have a pregnant birth mom of one of our foster kiddos), we don't know - and we won't - if and when we will be blessed with that new baby. Just like pregnancy - you really aren't guaranteed that you will make it to birth with a healthy baby. Bio-moms often take that for granted.
"Our" kids are not our own - They are on loan to us. We have been trusted with their care for a period of time that no one other than God knows. They can be taken from us at any point. The judge can decide it's better that they leave our home, or stay, at his (or her) whim. We can't travel without asking for permission. We must follow the state's rules, not our own. We don't get the ultimate choice. We can't even cut their hair without getting expressed permission. Most biological parents sometimes find these rules confining and hard to imagine. That's because they, and they alone, get to determine when and where their children travel, what their child's hairstyle looks like, and they presume their children will be "theirs" until the parents are dead and gone. Foster parents aren't allowed that luxury.
But as a biological parent too, if we really think about it from a Christian perspective, we face the same situation as foster parents do. It's sometimes easy to ignore that our children are not our own - they are God's, entrusted to us for their care as long as He sees fit. We should be coming to Him, seeking His will for our kiddos lives - they don't belong to us, they belong to Him. Which means, and we need to face this, He can take them at any time - their lifetime with us isn't guaranteed. The state may not be able to take them away - but the great Judge can.
I could probably go on and on about how God intends for us to raise our children and how good foster care forces my husband and I to realize more and more each day what God's plan is for us as parents, even to our biological son. The point is that being parents to our kids, whether they come to us from foster care, through adoption, or from the traditional biological method, is a priviledge that we need to recognize comes from God. Our kids are never "our own" - we are all Foster Parents not through a state or agency but licensed by God.
Please note that this does not mean foster care or adoption is the best choice for children. I strongly believe, as I've said in the past, that the best place for children is with their own healthy biological parents. Afterall - God entrusted them with His children first.
This post is part of Foster2Forever.com's May Blog Hop celebrating National Foster Care Month.