Saturday, August 3, 2013

Struggles since losing our Foster Daughter

            Three years ago, God asked our family to care for two children who were “essentially” orphans.  We were carrying out God’s command of caring for orphans.  On August 23, 2010, He sent a 19 month old boy and his sister, a 9 month old girl who weighed only 14 pounds.  The little girl, B, was near death because she had not been fed.  Emotionally, she was dead.  She did not smile, laugh, or cry.  She could sit up only if she was propped up.  She did not crawl or roll around.  After weeks of caring for her, she grew tremendously.  On Christmas, when she was 13 months old, she started walking.  Today, she is a very healthy young girl.  She is incredibly intelligent.  She shows great emotions, often smiling and laughing.  She has great gross and fine motor skills.  If you saw her, you would never know of her condition when she was 9 months old.

            The social workers continually told us that we were doing a great job raising these children.  In fact, they were so pleased that, when the natural mother gave birth to another child in July, 2011, they sent the baby to our home from the hospital.  When their older brother, who is now nine years old, had difficulties in his foster home, they moved him into our home.  They obtained special waivers in order to place two additional children in our home.  They wanted us to adopt all four children.

            Then, something happened.  The social workers decided to remove all of the children, claiming they had medical concerns about B.  When I asked about the medical concerns, they could not identify one treating doctor that had concerns or identify one medical problem.  In reality, all doctors were thrilled with her condition while in our care.

Initially, they removed B, with plans to remove her brothers.  The children have attorneys, called Law Guardians, who represent the children’s interests.  Practically speaking, Law Guardians almost always support the actions of the State.  In an unprecedented manner, these Law Guardians opposed the State and sought to keep the boys with us and have B returned to us. 
            For several months, legal battles raged.  About two weeks ago, the Law Guardians decided to stop fighting.  As a result, the State agreed to allow the boys to stay with us.  But, B has been sent to another home and we may never see her again.

            I am devastated and very sad.  We were doing God’s work of caring for orphans.  This girl needed us.  We were going to adopt her.  Raising these kids has been extremely difficult; we wanted to quit on numerous occasions.  But, we never quit.  We showed faith and perseverance.  How could God let this happen?  I wrote down some of my thoughts, such as the following:
  • God really let us down.
  • I prayed a lot.  Many friends from around the world prayed.  This was not a selfish prayer.  This was a prayer for an orphan.  God is supposed to grant this request.  He gave a lousy answer.
  • How can God take B away from us when we nursed her back to life?
  • Will B ever accept Jesus as her Savior?
  • I am sure B feels we abandoned her.  I don't want to be the guy who abandoned her.
  • I have talked, and even preached, about living a life of faith and doing great/hard things for God.  We did this.  We sacrificed a lot to live this life of faith.  Now, God does this.  I feel like God just threw it in my face.
  • After what God has allowed to happen, why would I want to serve Him anymore?
  • God could have stopped this.  It is easy for Him, but He did nothing.

Some of these thoughts are pretty blunt, but they are how I have felt the last two weeks.  I will not abandon my faith, but I can understand how someone could.

            A few years ago, I was interested in reading Phil Vischer’s book, Me, Myself, and Bob.  He is the creator of Veggietales and he lost his company in a bankruptcy (it is a long story).  I saw the e-book on sale at Amazon.  I bought it and read it in two days.  Interestingly, we have some similar thoughts and feelings, such as:
  • “I knew that the company and ministry I had built in 12 years of often exasperating work was on the verge of disintegrating – collapsing right before my eyes.  Most perplexingly, I knew that God knew it, too. . . He knew how hard we had worked.  He knew how far we had come.  And it appeared, from where I sat, that he was going to do nothing to help us” (emphasis added).
  • “What I wrestled with . . was the fact that God could have saved Big Idea Productions. . . . He can do anything.  But he didn’t” (emphasis added).
  • “it wouldn’t have taken much effort.  Especially for God.  He could have easily done it, and it would have saved Big Idea.  But he didn’t.”
  • “What confused me so deeply is that I knew he saw me fall, and I knew he had the capacity to catch me – to prevent my accident from happening.  Yet he didn’t.  He just stood there, watching me tumble down the stairs.  What kind of God would do that?” (emphasis added).

At the end of the book Vischer talks about a pastor who saw his dream die and suffered debilitating physical problems.  The Pastor thought, “If this is what it’s like to work for you, I’m not sure I can do it anymore.”  I can relate to this thought.

            The Pastor taught about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4.  She serves God and Elisha.  She is childless and God gives her a son.  Then the boy dies.  He writes, “What is the point of all that?  I mean, why put the poor woman though that exercise?”  Again, I can relate.  Finally, the Pastor said, “If God gives you a dream, and the dream comes to life and God shows up in it, and then the dream dies, it may be that God wants to see what is more important to you – the dream or him” (emphasis added).

            This experience and these feelings are still new to me, so I am not done processing everything.  Right now, I understand a few things:
  • If God wants to know what is more important, B or Him, I will choose God.  He is the most important.
  • I think it is okay to be sad that B is gone.
  • While God inexplicably took B away, He still wants me to raise the three boys.  I will do the best I can at raising the three boys.
  • I also have four natural born children.  I will do the best I can to raise them.
  • God will take care of B.  While I care about her, I can do nothing for her.  It is God’s responsibility.  In reality, it was always His responsibility, even when she lived with me.  I am just his instrument.

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