Saturday, May 24, 2014

What fostering has taught me, entry 4

I have learned that the court system is about itself, about due process, not the children. I could go on for pages about this and our case in particular, but instead I will offer generalities from our experience and people we know.  Don't me wrong there are judges that want to expedite the cases in order to minimize the harm to the child, and by God's grace I think we have one.

I have learned that the people who care the most about the children are the one's who have little to no voice: the foster parents. If the judges, magistrates and lawyers brought home a foster child for 6 months and tried to parent them they would have eyes that see. I wonder how things would change if the judges, lawyers, magistrates and even social workers, had to take the kids home they make decisions about. I wonder how they might conduct themselves if their work didn't end with the fall of the gavel or that passing of 5:00.

When was the last time a judge had to force themselves to love and unlovely child that is difficult, unruly, disobedient, angry, filled with rage, confused, sad and just plain unlovable? Go ahead and judge me . . .go ahead and think that no child is unlovable or unlovely. Go ahead and call me names. Think what you want, but let me ask you this: when was the last time you loved a child, or adult, that you did not like at all or love at all? When? You simply avoid that child (or person) and move on with your life. But what if that person is in your home, 24 hours a day 7 days a week? We naively thought that love would be enough and that these foster children would sing our praises for rescuing them from a terrible home life. It is not like that. See, you may look at the drug addicted parent who abused the child and think they are just a worthless scumbag. Your attitude and actions towards that parent will be cold, disingenuous, judgmental and condescending. But what you fail to realize is that the foster child loves their drug addicted, abusive mom or dad. Did it ever occur to you that these children love their messed up parents just like you and I love our "normal" parents. Did you ever stop and think that a foster child will always have some love for mom or dad? Some longing for them? What child doesn't want to be with mom AND dad?  In many ways these children are just like you and I.

 It reminds of an illustration (movie,book, sermon...whatever) of a racist white man who was in jail for murdering black folks. This white guy hated all black people, but found himself cuffed to a black man on a chain gang. One day the white man decides that he can escape but of course the black man is cuffed to him. It becomes apparent that in order for the white man to escape to freedom he must first learn to work with the black man, and convince him that he will not kill him. Can you see it? Can you see that in order for us to be truly free we must learn to love those whom we find unlovely. There is something in the illustration that words cannot capture; a truth that is real, yet awkward.  A truth that the foster child is filled with fear and distrust and before we can "run away with them" we must first convince them that we are "good guys". 

Like the 2 prisoners I will go about my life with a person (or persons) tethered to me, I can kill them and carry their body(it's figurative, relax) or win their heart so they will work with me. Which is harder? Freedom is not cutting the cuffs and letting them go. Freedom is learning to give up your selfishness in order to love those you do not like. Freedom in Christ living in me so  I may die to self .  Which is the higher way? Which one does the court do? It takes something otherworldly to press on and not cut the cuffs. 

 When was the last time you felt like you were neglecting your own children for the sake of someone else's . . . because you really were? The courts do not take these kids home...they are names on paper, not mal-adjusted, angry, confused children that need stability. So often the courts drag out these cases and kill children, unintentionally, but they do it.


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