Foster care is temporary. It’s literally written into the job description. Here today and gone tomorrow. Strangers, then family, then nearly strangers again.
We give our hearts and souls and sleep and time. And then they leave.
And we’re left with all those hours and tears, spent up and gone forever. And when it’s to a situation we don’t believe is good or happy or safe? It’s almost enough for us to forget why we do it in the first place. Almost enough for us to lose heart.
Yes, of course, this work is important. Our love changes things. Our care makes a difference.
But when a child leaves, and we’re left scared and heartbroken and exhausted and weary, it doesn’t feel like that. It feels more like time and love and energy wasted.
But this—what we can see, the short-term that our eyes can comprehend, the temporariness of foster care—isn’t all that there is.
“We do not lose heart... we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
—2 Corinthians 4:16-18
My day day-to-day life—your day-to-day life—isn’t all that there is. The times your voice isn’t heard, your phone calls aren’t answered, your prayers don’t play out the way you expected, your heart is left broken, those are the times you must look with different eyes. Not with physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes. From the seen and to the unseen. The eternal.
God is writing stories that we can’t see, doing things that we couldn’t imagine.
He’s orchestrating an entire realm of the unseen, accomplishing purposes we’ll never watch play out. Purposes for entire families’ histories to be fundamentally reoriented. Purposes for the trajectories of children’s lives to be radically changed. Purposes for waves of compassion to flow out of our homes and through our communities. Purposes for the precious souls of dear children.
Throughout my journey as a foster parent, I’ve often been confused by what I’ve seen play out in my life and the lives of the children I love. But I don’t focus on that.
I look away from that, and I stare—with faith—to the unseen. To my God, behind the scenes, working eternal plans.
Jamie C. Finn is the executive director of Foster the Family, the host of the Real Mom podcast, the founder and owner of Goods and Better. Her popular social media accounts offer a glimpse into the real life of a foster parent and provide encouragement to thousands of foster parents. At any given moment, Jamie is a mother to four to six children, including her two biological children and two children adopted through foster care. She lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey, with her husband, Alan.