Few understand the heavy burden carried by foster children. The greatest majority of them have been raised, from birth, in a home that is far from ideal. They love their parents, with all of the love their little hearts can muster, and from those parents they are removed. Scared and lonely, they are shuffled into a bureaucratic system that is, in many ways, broken. They are then placed with strangers, and left in their hands, whether those hands are caring or not. The smaller wounds that begin in a less than ideal home are made much larger by the removal and placement process. Healing is slow and painful, and manifests itself in unfortunate behaviors (the consequences of which can sometimes inflict further damage).
Often forgotten in all of this are the parents. Yes, they have made mistakes, and yes, those mistakes have had grave impacts on their children. Yet, they too are souls loved by Jesus, and they are souls now terrified and grief stricken. The children are not the only ones with wounds.
The relationship between parents and foster parents is often tense, and for obvious reasons. We, however, have been blessed with a great relationship with the parents of our six foster children. I consider them my friends. Somewhere along the way, a wonderful thing happened – they began coming to mass with us. Soon after, they requested baptism for their three youngest (the older three are in classes to get all of their sacraments). They are bringing their children to Jesus, and in this, they will find healing of their own.
On August 20, the three younger children were given an enormous share of grace from above, when, with parents standing by their side, they were baptized. These precious children face a very uncertain future. We do not yet know with whom they will spend the rest of their childhood, nor do we know the trials they will face. Wounded, but beginning to heal, these small ones now hold a light that will not go out, no matter what. They have found their “forever family”, and have been adopted by the healer of all wounds.