Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The "Why Can't I Live With My Birth-Mom" Question

When Luke, Gracie, and Sara came to live with us in the summer of 2011, they often asked, “Why can’t we live with our mom and grammy anymore?” We tried to explain the best we could—even though, honestly, we couldn’t understand the situation ourselves. Apparently, their mom had no stable housing and no job—was given a year to get it together—but a year had come and gone, and her excuse was that she had no car. The state had offered her help—a small monthly supplement to help with all six of her children, food stamps, government housing, free day care, free health insurance, and I don’t know what else. Caseworkers had been trying to work with her for over a year before the kids had been taken away from her. But when they continually saw her, pregnant and out on the street with her five children panhandling, their only option was to put the children in foster care until she could get things together. I had trouble understanding why, with such a large family that the birth mom has, nobody was able to help her with a car or at least with transportation of some form so that she could get to work. Her extreme lack of motivation would have been understandable if she had tested positive for drugs or even been diagnosed as severely depressed—but neither of these were the case. She always played the victim to her children—saying the state was being unfair to her by forcing her to get a job when she had no car. So the kids felt sorry for her and would stick up for her, complaining, “How is our mom supposed to get a job when she doesn’t even have a car?” I couldn’t answer them honestly at that point. I just told them that some people, perhaps because of how they were raised, never really mature, and have a very difficult time taking care of themselves, let alone six children. That I knew she loved them a lot, but that parents have to have a place for their children to live and that I was so sorry she wasn't able to do that.

But then I switched gears. The issue here is not who is being unfair to their mom, or why their mom can’t do what she needs to do, who is bad, who is good, etc. Instead, I told them the story of Samuel. Samuel had to leave his mother at a young age in order to be consecrated to the Lord as His servant and priest/prophet. It must have been extremely painful for both Hannah and Samuel when she dropped him off at Eli, the high priest’s, home to be raised by him instead of his own loving mother. But Samuel had a true heart after God and he became one of the greatest prophets the Lord ever used to lead His people. This is how I see Luke, Gracie, and Sara. They are so attuned to the things of God, and their spirits so receptive. When we discuss God’s Word, you almost wouldn’t know that they’ve only been living in a Christian home for eight months. So I tell them, “God set you apart to live in our home for a purpose. We must always trust God and never question or doubt him—all of his decisions are perfect. Perhaps you are here so that one day in the future you can bring all your family to the Lord. Perhaps if you had grown up with your biological family, all of you might have been lost and never known God as his adopted children. This is your time for growing closer to Jesus and getting to know him. And like Samuel, God will do very important things with your life.”

But what these three children also get in the move, that Samuel did not, are two loving, stable parents. For the first time in their life they have a true father who lives with them and takes care of them—and who doesn’t abuse their mother. They have a mom who not only hugs them and loves them, but who cooks for them and makes sure they are clean and clothed properly, etc. I know the kids feel this. The first week or so that they lived with us, they used to say (except for Sara) “When I turn 18 I’m going to move back in with my mom.” That soon changed to “I’m gonna visit my mom.” And now there’s the occasional, “I miss my mom” but for the most part they are happy to be living securely and normally for the first time ever. They always say, “I love our house” and “I love our car”—things that the average child takes for granted. Before adopting, Norman and I prayed for God to send us children who would have a heart open and receptive to the things of God—children who would grow in the Lord and take the gospel message beyond our walls--so that we could impact not just one life, but many down the line. That is what He has done here and we see that His ways are so perfect!

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