A Real Family

I have a hard time posting on court weeks.

In the beginning, we often caught ourselves living and dying by court dates and visits. The unknowns seemed to keep us in a constant state of drama, and we realized it was infiltrating the heart of our home, something we were not willing to sacrifice.

We sat down and decided if we were going to "own" this foster care thing for a lifetime - or for as long as the Father allows.

We realized that a commitment like this meant no more living and dying by court dates. Our family was our family. Whoever was within our walls on any particular day, was a member of our family, and all the court appointments, visits, and schedules were only parameters on the outside, which we were working towards.

Additionally, the families involved in our lives through our children were OUR family. We were committed to the mess, the muck, the sorrows and the joys.

Over the last weeks as I've shared Baby J was nearing the end of his journey within our actual home, I've had a number of people remark, "Well, you know he's not really your child," or "You know you really only have three children; the others are just foster."

I thought about this a great deal as we went to the court house on Tuesday to what we thought would be J's home-going appointment.

Once again we had said our goodbyes. If you haven't read J's story in our lives, it's one where flexibility is demanded. We were told a week a most, then four, then two more months, then three more months, and here we are 13 months later. We have packed this little guy up more times than I remember, and we've said our goodbyes and prayed over him so many times. The reality is we are not his forever immediate family, and we know he will be going to his new home at some point, but for whatever reason, the dates continue to change and shift.

However, I've realized something deathly from his case. When we first did the dance of court date to court date with J, I guarded my heart. It was a natural reaction from our time with Baby M. But, the result was my heart truly kept him at a distance for a good while. I qualified it by saying I couldn't let my emotions jump in and out at a moment's notice.

In the adoption and foster care world, we know this is dangerously unhealthy, though many of us do it out of self-preservation.

Finally, last Christmas, when things had fallen through once again, I decided - enough. This little guy was missing the whole of me. I was missing the whole of me. I'm an all-in person, and anything short of that changes my very core.

And so, I fell in love once again with a precious child that graced our home.

Present day...

As I've said before, there is a Family Court atmosphere. It sucks life from you. But there is also a state you embody when you enter that place, thinking you are surrendering the child or children you have given your heart to.

Your soul can't breathe.

Your body continues. It graces and pleases and appropriately answers all the questions required with a smile.

Inside, your soul wells to the point of shattering...

Tuesday, I wondered deep down if it was right to feel this way. Because no, I did not birth this child, and he has a "real" family we are working towards.

But you see, we are a real family; no, we are not traditional, and our faces, laundry and schedules do not look exactly what the world refers to as a "real" family's might look like. Our make up is complex and characters overlapping.

But when Grandmother calls me to talk late into the night for no reason...is that not real?

When my children scream for me during their shots, is that not real?

When I study with her for a math test until 10 at night, is that not real?

When we share our food and our abundance with our hurting families, is that not real?

And when my heart breaks into a billion pieces because God has graced me with a child for a season and allowed me to love them fully and well...is that not real?

Because the moment I step away from owning that we are called to be stewards of these children, the one who immediately claims them is the state. Is that a real family?

And from what I've learned, the moment my heart stops loving like a real momma, and my family stops embracing like a real family - that might the point we need to step away because every child deserves a real family.

So when they said only six more weeks with this little guy God has allowed to change our lives, I praised Him, knowing fully I will grieve hard with hope, but I have six more weeks to delight, love and sing to this real boy in my home. And I have a lifetime, to lift him in prayer before a real God.


  1. I'm so glad you're all-in. So grateful you show Jesus to these little ones in such a real way. Makes me think of how Jesus loves the Church. I guess he's all-in, too. So grateful He is. Love you.

  2. Catie, Our caring-for-kids-to-whom-we-did-not-give-birth stories are so different (www.untohimwelive.blogspot.com)and yet the Lord is teaching both of us moms such incredibly similar lessons. I read you posts, and I'm stunned by how good God is to use children to teach and sanctify us. It could be cancer. Or the death of someone we love. Instead, He's given us young hearts to touch with His love, mercy and grace. His lovingkindness is above and beyond all we could ask for!

    May God richly bless you and Jamie for being "all in"!

    1. Denise, you are such an encouragement to me, even from afar! I'm so grateful for your heart of faithfulness to walk this road as a model.

      Camille, I love you, girl. You're pretty all-in too. You and Grant are so faithful to love those students, even when it isn't always pretty. That's Jesus. You are a gift in my life.