I have had a lot of things in the foster care world lately bring my thoughts to how crucial sacrifice is to the success of relationships. Not just any kind of sacrifice, but self sacrifice. If we really think about it most kids are in care because their parent(s) hold something in a higher place of priority over their children. Whether its drugs, anger resulting in abuse, girlfriends/boyfriends or spouses, those things take the priority over making sure that their child is safe and cared for. We see time and time again how hard it is for the parents to break that cycle. And how foreign it is to think first about the child's needs. Yet that is exactly what has to be done to heal that relationship.
As foster parents we have no choice but to sacrifice for each and every child in our home. Our world is turned on end and we MUST hold on and fight for order, for love, for healing and for that child to be the priority. Sometimes that is a uphill battle! Sometimes we are fighting alone. While our case workers want what is best for the child, sometimes their hands are tied by laws that protect the parents, rights. And don't get me wrong they should! But this is where we have to lay down our biggest sacrifice. We have to fight alongside those parents!! We have to be on their team! They need to see examples of love and sacrifice in order to learn that lesson themselves. Putting those children first means that we put aside our personal feelings of anger. We take ourselves off of our pedestals and see the parents for what WE are, flawed human beings, full of sin and in need of grace.
Our priority will always be the child. And our lives will always be filled with sacrifice. We are going to swallow the pain and take every nasty word thrown at us by a hurting child. We will listen to every suggestion from a mom who hasn't learned how to parent, and thank her, because at least she is trying... even if it is just trying to prove she is better than you. We will sacrifice sleep to calm a scared child or to sooth a baby withdrawing from drugs. These are the things we signed up for. This has to be our focus. When we let our eyes shift from this goal it's easy to let our own desires creep in and stand in the way. It isn't easy to protect our hearts. Most of the time they will break a little. But the heart is a muscle and the more we break it down and build it back up the stronger it becomes. So keep making the sacrifice. Love BIG and give all you have. These kids deserve every bit of it. Their little love tanks have been running on empty for a long time. Love might be sacrifice, but the sacrifice is worth it!
Jennifer is a 40 yr. old wife and stay at home mom. She has been married to Ryan for 18 years. Their 4 children joined their family though international and foster adoption. Together they have fostered for 8 years and welcomed over 70 children into their home. Jennifer has a love for travel, her big crazy family, and tiramisu.