The Human Factor

In the beginning, we agreed that we were all in as a couple when it came to Foster Care.  We knew we would love a child or children for a season.  We knew we would empty our hearts, knowledge, and compassion into every child that came into our home.  We would get attached, we would love until it hurt, and then when it came time to say good-bye, we would say good-bye and share our grief with each other.  We still believe this, we still own this, we are still walking this.

But, nothing ever really follows our nice laid plans, right?  The Human Factor always throws us a curve ball and leaves us standing there wondering, what the what?!?

We tell ourselves on a daily basis, reunification with biological family members makes sense.  It is good for children.  We’ve read the stats, we’ve heard the research–reunification leads to less trauma long-term.  We know it, believe it, and own it……then, BAM, the Human Factor says, ‘but, what if?’

  • What if we are the better placement long-term?
  • What if biological parents continue to make selfish, detrimental choices?
  • What if biological parents never own their mistakes, only repeating the cycle?
  • What if they don’t protect these most incredible gifts?
  • What if they don’t love them?
  • What if they quit their job, because their simply too tired and the job is too hard?
  • What if they can’t maintain stable living?
  • What if they don’t help them with homework?
  • What if they don’t go to ‘Open House’ at the school and let their child show them every single thing in the room, including the stickers in their locker?
  • What if they don’t believe in them?
  • What if they don’t provide meals, clothing, and other items needed for them?
  • What if they choose their needs over their child’s needs?
  • What if they drop them off with complete strangers, over and over and over again?
  • What if they are just too tired to be a parent that day or night?
  • What if they don’t properly fasten them in their car seats, making sure their most precious possessions are always safe?
  • What if they don’t teach them to cook?
  • What if they don’t play catch in the yard, draw pictures, and laugh until their sides hurt as a family?
  • What if they just suck as a parent?
  • What if the children are just a status symbol and a way to get another check?
  • What if they don’t take the  children to church?
  • What if they don’t show the boy how to treat women and show the girls how to respect their bodies and hearts?
  • What if they don’t model an appropriate relationship, so their children know what love and happiness really looks like?
  • What if they use drugs?
  • What if they never ‘get it’?…That these children are truly God’s greatest gift to parents.

Our brains tell us, reunification is best, but our hearts are thrown off by the Human Factor that takes a journey of its own.

Regardless, four months in, we are still owning this, believing this, and walking this.  Now, if someone would just tell that stupid Human Factor to shut up and leave us alone!!

– The Howard’s – Party of 8

Adoption Disruption…Let’s be Honest

Let’s be honest.  God is perfect, His character is perfect, His creation was intended to be perfect….but, WE created brokenness, confusion, selfishness and imperfection when WE, as humanity, made a decision in the Garden to choose that which was not good for us.  It was in that moment that the original plan, intent, and perfect creation of God was broken.  We did that, not God.  So, when the world is in chaos, disease is rampant, and nature is groaning, let us not blame or presume that it is God’s plan.  Instead, collectively we should own up to it; lay blame where blame is due…..on us.

In the ‘Christian’ Adoption & Foster Care world, one of the most overused and non-theological statements often utilized is, “We prayed about it and we feel God has released us from this child.”  Just today I spent 20-30 minutes listening to a fellow adoption co-worker share her heart, brokenness and righteous anger over a “perfect adoptive placement” that ended with “well, we prayed about it…”  Where does that fall in line with the character of God?  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “throw stones at others” kind of thing.  I am very aware of my own sin, my own brokenness, my own selfishness, and the imperfect choices I have made.  This is more about, not bringing God into a conversation and/or giving him credit for something He is not about, such as adoption disruptions.  We cannot claim God wove the adoption together in one breath and in the next claim God has released us from such a commitment, because let’s be honest, it just didn’t work out for you, your spouse and/or your family.  Every broken placement, failed adoption, unfulfilled promise creates further trauma in the child whom ultimately is the one to carry the load of consequences for such broken choices.  So, please don’t hide behind the God card because it is convenient and gives you peace.

So, what do I tell adoptive families currently in training?  I simply tell them that if they ever get to a place humanly that they make the choice that a child can no longer stay in their home then I need them to tell me humanly why they are making that decision.  Please do not bring God into that conversation, because tossing aside the “least of these”, “fatherless”, and the “orphan” is not part of God’s DNA.  It simply does not match up with the God of Scripture or the Redeemer of the Gospel.  So, own up to it.  Humanly admit where you are at.  That is the place where true and open dialogue can begin.

God’s original plan was broken by us, and since then, He has been on a path of rescue, redemption, restoration, and adoption.  None of which align with the statement, “We prayed about it and God has released us…”  That statement aligns with the popular belief that whatever God calls us too should fit neatly into our lives without any mess, any consequence, any hardship, or any heartbreak.  Which, if you’re wondering, also doesn’t match up with the God of the Gospel.

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Matthew 14:25-30

Count the cost friends…because, there are children, in need of adoptive homes, counting on you.

****As a professional in the child welfare field I have seen times when an adoptive placement has broken down for some pretty damaging reasons, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, reactive attachment disorder that was previously undiagnosed and several other reasons.  This post takes all of those things into account and is not meant to be a blanket statement over every adoption disruption, but more of a call to all who would consider the adoption path.  Be mindful of what God is calling you to, commit to that, and pray.  But, ultimately if it breaks down, evaluate that breakdown, humanly accept it, and never blame or give credit to God for the disruption.  He is perfect and He makes perfect choices; we are imperfect and we make imperfect choices.