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Do It Again: A Foster Dad's Reflection on Reunification Day

“Your promise still stands. Great is Your faithfulness. I’m still in Your hands. This is my confidence: You’ve never failed me yet.” -- Elevation Worship, “Do It Again”

For the past six years, my family has had the joy of fostering through an incredible organization called “A Door of Hope.” Jill (my wife) and I have 5 biological kids. Yes, they’re all ours. Yes, we know what causes that. And yes…that question sounds a little creepy every time it is asked by a stranger!

Over the years, I have watched our kids continually make space to invite a stranger in and embrace them as a “brother” or “sister.” I’ve stood in awe as  they’ve willingly laid down any “rights” to their own comfort for the sake of compassion. I’ve seen their toys broken, paint ripped off their walls, their bathroom flooded, you name it. I’ve heard them be yelled and screamed at and called some pretty nasty names from someone in a smaller frame than them who is just lashing out from more brokenness than most of us could imagine. Here’s what inspires me: I’ve watched my kids wrestle through the mess of forgiving and then giving their hearts all over again.

In six years, my wife and I have sat in countless spaces with doctors, dentists, therapists, counselors, case managers, judges, social workers, and a bunch of other heroes who locked arms to tirelessly (and often thanklessly) restore some semblance of health and wellness to one who never asked for the valley in which they find themselves. I’ve sat in awe as Jill has immersed herself in paperwork and prayer to discover and then advocate for critical needs in our foster kids that had been missed in all of their moving from one place to the next: educational needs, health needs, social needs, and spiritual needs. Whether or not they ever know it, these kids are living an entirely different trajectory because of the relentless love of God’s Spirit through my bride.

In six years, I have been called “daddy” by children who I didn’t give life to, but who forever have etched a place in my heart. They have run to me for hugs and protection…and they have given me some pretty colorful commentary laced with shouted profanity in ways I haven’t heard it used before.

Our family has laughed and made memories…but many of the moments have just been HARD. It’s hard to watch a biological parent who adores their child, but cannot or will not break the abusive cycles of substances that ebb away their very life as their child pays the highest toll. It’s hard to remain in the tension that will neither scapegoat these parents nor make excuses for them. It’s hard to face the daily uncertainty and the continual delays. It’s hard to hold a child — or to ache at their refusal to let you hold them, fully aware that you cannot remove or fix the tragedy that has ripped their world in two. It’s hard to be blamed for wounds you didn’t cause, and it’s hard to be misunderstood (or conversely treated like some rare kind of saint) by people who are convinced they could ‘never’ do what you do.

But then, there are days like today. Today, my family sends home the fifth precious foster child who has graced the halls of our home. He will go home to his father, just like ALL FOUR of the children from other families we’ve had the joy to love. Today, I will get to shake the hand of a dad I’ve loved walking alongside and congratulate him for breaking a cycle in this boy’s future. Today, our boy goes HOME.

It has been a tough road for him, and there is much work ahead. This six year old is brilliant and he feels everything so deeply. Over the past years, he has expressed a lot of deep pain with few sustained moments of joy. That said, his favorite song is “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship. He asks for it almost every time we’re in the car, and regardless of the kind of day he is having, this song moves him to sing along. As I prepare to hug him one more time till he comes back for a future playdate, I can hear his little voice singing words he doesn’t yet know are true…but I’m confident he soon will:

“I’ve seen you move. You move the mountains. And I believe I’ll see you do it again.”

I ask you to join me in praying for him in the coming days, and for the scores of other precious sons and daughters (and the unsung heroes that brave the darkness to shine the light). More than that, I boldly ask you to let the Lord show you the need in your backyard and ask what your place might be.

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Wow. Wonderful testimony and truly amazing. Your Heavenly Father is so pleased. Their lives will never be the same.

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