Letting People Come and Go

Letting People Come and Go

I find that change takes a big toll on me whether I know it or not, especially with goodbyes. Even when I mentally know it is a for-the-better kind of goodbye, internally, I can get all out of sorts. Such has been the case as we have been transitioning little Rell out of our home. In a few weeks, he will be reunited with his family, and while I KNOW that him going back to his family is best, even as I sit here and write about it, I can feel little alarms going off inside that are crying out to hold on as tight as I can—the war between my mind and heart is real and rumbles constantly regarding his soon departure.

I didn’t know it would be so hard for me to let go. I also didn’t know it would be so hard for my kids to let go as well. 

I started telling my oldest son a couple weeks ago that Rell would be going back to his home. At first, he didn’t say much and only asked a few questions.

“Will we see him again? Is he leaving forever?”

 “Well, I hope we can still see him from time to time. But yes, he will be living with his family forever.” Then after a long pause and with the most convincing smile I could manage, “Isn’t that great?!” 

Seeing my unexpected enthusiasm, he searched my eyes to look for the traces of sadness and hurt he suspected were there. How did he know? Maybe it’s because he is the child who grew in my womb just inches away from my beating heart, and he knows it too well. Whether beating or bleeding, he knows it, and in this moment, it was bleeding.

 Nonetheless, because I was determined to only be happy about this situation, he let it go and accepted my pretense while forcing a smile of his own. He said he was happy because he could play with all his toys again and have his bed back. “Hooray,” he said under his breath. 

But then a week went by, and it didn’t take long for me to see there was a war going on inside of my son as well. At first, I noticed little things like a little more bickering between the two. Soon bickering turned to insult which turned to what felt like a fierce cold war. And it was entirely one-sided coming from my son’s end. What was going on? For months, I saw no such hostility from any of my children toward Rell, but now it was all coming out full force.

Then I realized—my son is trying to disconnect. He knows his “brother” is leaving, and it’s hard for him too. 

Because each of us in our own unique ways has been going through this same process and acting in ways we don’t mean to act. While on the outside, we all wildly celebrate the victory for Rell’s family, we also grieve the loss of a child we have come to accept as part of our own and don’t know what to do with ourselves. Will he even remember us?? And all the while, our hearts have been alerted to defend themselves at all costs and to detach from this one we’ve all come to deeply love. 

I, for one, found myself feeling jealous, insecure, sad, unsure, and scared. Sure, I praised God for the good news, but I was also jealous of his family who would get to enjoy seeing the rest of his life, insecure that he’d forget all about us, sad that I may not have done my best for him, unsure what life would be like when he’s gone, and scared I would never be able to open myself up to another child again. What’s worse was that all of this quickly translated into irritability, impatience, and an overall grouchiness that I could not shake off. I wished I could return the boy without a second thought, like a robot, but that was obviously not possible—I was so human it hurt. 

I, too, was disconnecting. 

But once I realized what was happening and that poor Rell was getting the brunt of my selfish defenses, I stopped myself. One day after seeing how cold I had been, I held him close and told him, “I’m so sorry. I’m not mad at you… I promise. But I’m going to miss you a lot.” He didn’t know why I was apologizing, but being the compassionate boy he is, he gently responded, “I miss you too momma…love you,” and hugged me tight before running off to play. 
He has no idea, really, what is going on inside me, but without knowing it, he is also teaching me a great deal about saying goodbye.   

For the last five+ months, Rell has taken in another whole family into his heart and has traveled back and forth between us and his biological family every few weeks. In the times he has been at our home, he has FULLY been with us and has given us his all, loving us and allowing us to love him in return. He calls us umma and appa (mom and dad in Korean) and knows he has a place in our arms anytime he wants. Yet at the same time, it was always evident how much he still loved his family back at home whom he said goodbye to for the week. By the way he always talked about them,  we knew for certain they were always in his heart even when with us.

What was surprising, however, was that whenever he went back to his family for a weekend visit, he would cheerfully say goodbye to us and go back to his family, only to do the same thing to there. He would love being with them so much, but we were also always told that he talked about us constantly with such endearment. They said they could tell he loved us so much, just like family. 

The fact was, whether here or there, his heart had grown big enough to hold us all.

And that is what I learned we could do as well.

Now that the time is nearing for Rell to go home permanently, I have desperately been trying to wrap my mind around this concept of goodbye. Except now, I no longer mourn a loss, but I take great comfort in this supernatural God-given ability I have witnessed in Rell for our hearts to expand and forever carry the people who come into our lives, no matter where they may go. I can cheerfully say goodbye, just as he always has, and bless him or anyone else on their journey onward, knowing we will not be left with a void but with a special place in our hearts permanently filled with the memories and blessings that were brought through their very real presence in our lives. And there are so many. 

So with gladness, I have learned to say goodbye. Goodbye to this little boy, goodbye to many who have left us before, and goodbye to the many who will come hereafter. It has been our greatest joy to have had Rell and so many other amazing people come and go in our lives, and I can now say that it was all well worth it and that I also hope it never stops. Our family will open our hearts wide and welcome in anyone as family every time—sometimes for a day and sometimes for a month but always for a lifetime.

I bless you and your family Rell. I will never forget you, and I thank you for all the memories and lessons you have taught me. Umma loves you so much and there will always be a place for you in our hearts and in our home. Please be well. Kisses and hugs.

I Let Myself Go

I Let Myself Go

Sometimes… I forget to brush my teeth in the morning. I wear baggy tees and sweats more than I do anything else. If I’m lucky, I can slap on a pair of jeans and my kids wonder if I’m going somewhere special. Showers are a luxury and so is brushing my hair. In fact, my hairbrush is now used more for the brushing of synthetic hairs on dolls rather than my own. At least it is being put to use.

So, yes, I guess you can say I’ve let myself go, and while I used to once dread the possibility of such a thing, it is a decision I now choose to make and accept everyday–to let go.

This unraveling of my former self and surrendering of control has been driven by the unseen yet overwhelming force of little ones being present in my life and began when I first became a mother. Over the years, I have surrendered a clean house, an up-to-date wardrobe, peaceful mealtimes, nights of uninterrupted sleep, and even close relationships, at least the way I once knew them. All this and more I have let go of since this “force” has come and swept through my life like some kind of natural disaster that keeps pummeling through over and over again in all of its glorious chaos.

It is definitely painful and disorderly at times, but unlike a true natural disaster which only causes devastation, this force that comes with motherhood brings life.

A wild and unkempt state of affairs is the new normal and something I now embrace because it is simply the residue of the little lives (lives that I love) that are simply living and being and making their way into this world. The force that comes along with such magnificent life and beauty cannot be helped.

Now everyday I stand in front of a mirror while staring at my somewhat disheveled reflection that is always blurred behind some kind of smear or smudge or tiny fingerprint, and I smile. I smile because I have accepted all that I see before me and I also smile because I remember so vividly that warm July day when this force first took over my life and first challenged me to let go. 

It was a little less than six years ago in a small hospital delivery room, just hours before my first child was born. There, I experienced for the first time an unspeakable force I never could have even imagined. It was the start of labor.

Once labor began, I could feel these waves of intense pangs that rhythmically came and went inside me. As each one passed, they gradually grew bigger and bigger, longer and stronger. They swept over my entire body every few minutes like huge waves crashing over and inside me and then ebbed away only to come back again and again.

One wave of contraction was so powerful that I was literally knocked off my feet but thankfully caught by the bed beside me. Then on the force went.

On and on for hours I endured this untamable force of life trying to make its way into the world and all I could do was hold on for dear life. For even then as just a little fetus, the force this child came with felt greater than any known natural phenomenon. Hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, and the like–they all paled in comparison to what rumbled within me. Right then and there, I knew I was in for a ride and my life would never be the same again.

And with every wave that continued to come in those gruelling 36 hours, my instinct was to grab onto anything I could–a pillow, a hand, my body, my life, anything to save me from the debilitating force that took over me. Yet every time I clenched my fists, my eyes, and my jaws to brace myself for each new wave, the pain only increased and I would hear a whisper beside me that reminded me, “let go…”

These words came from the kindest, most gentle human being on the face of the planet who also happened to be my doula, my birth assistant, my angel. This woman stood beside me and my husband every step of the way and whenever I started to fight that great force, she gently reminded me to let go and to let life take its course.

Over time, I heeded her directions and came to a point of true surrender, and that is when things got moving and it all became easier, more bearable, and dare I say even enjoyable. Rather than kicking and screaming through waves crashing over me, I found myself being able to float and ride over even the greatest of waves as I let them come and then gently let them go. When I finally reached the climactic end of this great force, I closed my eyes with one final push and then opened my eyes to see the most beautiful form of life before me. It was life in its purest form.

Now 6 years later, that force is still with me today.

It is the force of 4 pairs of hands pulling at my shirt in 4 different directions, it is the force of 4 little bodies fighting to make space on my lap at once, and it is the force of 4 lungs all screaming or singing or laughing at the same time into my bleeding ear drums both day and night.

And whenever the force of motherhood smacks me down off my feet like it first did in that delivery room and I feel like I’m drowning rather than floating through the process of raising these children, I command myself to open my eyes once again and to gaze at life.

I look into their eyes and at their still small form, and I marvel as much as I can because one of these days I know I will look up one final time and the force will be gone. All of them will be grown and beaming in the fullness of life with everything I have taught them and it will be time for them to go. Then I will have no choice but to let go. They will ebb away and all I will be able to do is HOPE that they ebb back to me from time to time some day.

That moment should feel like light years away since they are all just a few years old now, but it has been on my mind because in  a few months, I will already have to let one go.

The little boy who stormed into our lives this past March and who we have had the joy of hosting will be leaving us. We received news this week that after battling what felt like insurmountable challenges, legalities, setbacks, and obstacles, grace prevailed and the judge made the verdict to give custody back to his biological parent. A second chance has been given and this family will be reunified. It is the very news we have been hoping and praying for and now that it has finally come to pass, the only thing left to do is to prepare ourselves to let go.

There is no doubt a sting of pain that comes with the idea of missing this boy’s presence, cuddles, and laughs as well as becoming a mere blip in his memory. We’ve even attached since day one, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of me wants to hold on.

But even greater still is my desire for his life to flourish and be where he is meant to be. So I will let go and do so with great fondness of the rich time we had together and with great honor of having mothered him through one of the most intense, difficult, and crazy waves of his life. Hand in hand we rode over it together, and now we just pray that this time will end with the birth of a fuller and greater life for this boy’s entire family.

With that, I let go and bask in the joy of mothering the rest of my children and others along the way in order to release them all into the fullness of life. There is no greater joy.

And to all the other mothers who have been experiencing the force and learning to let go everyday, Happy Early Mother’s Day!

No Borders

No Borders

It has been amazing to watch my children welcome another child into their lives. Just like the rest of us, they have known about the possibility of this new addition for the last few years and have waited for this friend/brother/sister to come join them in their room. It didn’t even matter that one of my kids would be bumped to a mattress on the floor. In fact, my oldest gladly volunteered to give up his bed before we even thought to ask. Then when we finally received news a little boy was coming to stay with us, the kids were ecstatic and prayed with us every night over the empty bed beside theirs, wondering what he would be like.

Then he came. And it was as if he was family all along.

I’m not sure what I expected of my children who are all under the age of five, but whatever it was, they completely exceeded all of my expectations. I have not only been absolutely shocked by how they have loved this kid from day one, but on a regular basis, I am inspired, humbled, and in awe. Most of all, I am amazed at how there are no borders around their heart. While the rest of us spent days and weeks wondering to what extent we should touch him, how we should speak to him, and even what we should refer to him as, they calculated no such thing.

They dove right in, embraced him as a brother, and welcomed him to be part of the family. It did not matter to them where he came from, what he looked like, or how he might respond. They just loved him. It took the boy a little longer (but not by much) to have the same sentiments, but starting last week, he began to proudly tell my children that they were his “sistuh” and “bruddah” as well. Of course, my daughter beamed from cheek to cheek and my son who plays the big brother role nodded with approval.

I was so proud of them, all of them, because it is one thing to ask an adult to love, but to ask another child to love so bravely? I wasn’t so sure they could do it… and I could not have been more wrong.

Maybe it’s a kid thing. Because I see the same thing in this little boy. He comes to me like I am, and have been, his mom all along. Sometimes I think he was sent to love on me more than to be loved by me because I often feel like his love is so much sweeter than mine. He cups my face gently in his little hands and looks into my eyes like he’s known me his whole life. He runs up from behind me to throw his arms around my neck for surprise hugs and he never fails to reach his hands to place them into mine wherever we go.

And the other morning, I was in my bathroom, and having washed up and gotten dressed and ready for the day, I came out looking a little fresher than usual as a stay-at-home-mom. When I opened the door, I found him on my bed staring up at our wedding photos on the wall. When he saw that I had come out, he looked up at me with this gentle smile and whispered, “You’re perfect.”

Did this three-year-old boy really just say that I was perfect? He doesn’t even know me!

Shocked, I ran right up to him, picked him up, and asked him what he said. When he repeated those words once more, I hugged him as tight as I could and spun him around in circles. Then one by one, the rest of my children crawled out of the blankets in my bed where they had been hiding and began jumping wildly on top of one another in squeals and laughter.

Just watching them, I felt winded by the sheer magnitude and tenderness of their affections for one another. How they have opened up their hearts like this in such a short time, how he has learned to trust and love in return, how he has disarmed his fears as well as our own–it is all truly beyond me.

I am so thankful that we get to have this sweet time together. He has become family. Truth be told, he is even starting to look like the rest of us. Even though he is half black, half white and we are Korean, some have mistaken him and my daughter to be twins. I thought they were crazy at first, but now I don’t blame them. He is starting to look a little Asian to me as well. But no matter what he looks like or what we look like as well, no matter the fact that we aren’t blood or even family by law, it is so refreshing and liberating to have no divides standing between us because we have torn them all down with this love he taught us that knows no borders.

It is most definitely something to be learned. I am learning it more and more everyday, and in this way, I am learning yet another face of God who embraces all and loves so freely, inviting us all to be part of His family. I want to be that free. Free to love and free to be loved in return. This is what we all need. It is and has been healing for all of us.

And I pray these kids never stop being so free.

 

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done

These are words that have been all too familiar through my life groomed as a Christian. Yet these days, I find they are no longer mere mechanical words, but a genuine plea that I often find myself uttering to God straight from the pit of my soul.

When there’s no way out, Thy will be done. When there are no answers, Thy will be done. When I cannot see what is to come ahead and have no choice but to only live by faith, Thy will be done. 

And what exactly is God’s will?

Is it that my many sins be cast away? Is it that I relinquish control over my past, present, and future life? Is it to let go of my quickness to anger, to snap, and to let my hasty tongue go loose? Or is it to trust in God fully when nothing goes according to what I desired or what I had planned. Yes, all this and more, is this not the will of the Lord that these things I have held onto so desperately should completely DIE within me?

It is then no wonder that as I fearfully whisper these four words under my breath at every turn and difficult juncture of my life, that it has caused nothing short of  wrenching pain because DEATH is indeed what is transpiring.

I am dying. 

Dying to my will and learning to let it go. In this way, I die more everyday, and this is the great will of the Lord that I have learned to yearn for when I say the words, thy will be done:

Thy will be done and my will be dead.

It may seem a bit grim and difficult to believe that God desires the death of me–to inflict pain on one He loves and strip me of my life–and while it may pain Him to do so, it is the same will that Jesus asked for in the garden on the way to His gruesome death on the cross where He died according to the will of the Father. God’s will for us may also appear to be gruesome or painful and dark at the time, but only in passing because beauty is just up ahead.

So what is my will that must die today.

While I have plenty of different obsessions, sins, worries, and agendas that come to mind, the one thing that stands out the most is the lives of my children.

Over the years, so much of my will has been the driving force of my parenting decisions. Even in the daily grind, I find myself trying to exert control over their little lives and what I want for them in every single little way. I toil in my training and raising them up. I anxiously mull over the difficulties and obstacles they will most likely face in the years to come. Most of all, I desperately hope they will hold on to their faith. While some of this may sound like “good parenting,” a good amount of it is my earthly, short-sighted will that stands with its back against the true will of God.

And in these past few weeks, I have cried out for safety and protection and everything good for this new addition to our household. I want so badly the very best for him, but because I don’t know what that really is, I have again come to that place of surrender and asking God’s will and not my own. I do it with trembling because more pain may be involved. There are no clear outcomes of what will take place in this boy’s life in these next few months and his future is even more uncertain than the lives of any of my own biological children whom I have, too, worried about incessantly.

Even in this week alone, I have heard stories and news of instability and destruction still raging through this boy’s family sphere which has left him facing potentially dramatic and traumatizing life altering events which he has no idea about while staying sheltered in our home. As for me, there is nothing I can do, but care for him in the now and hope God pours into the seeds we have sown into his eternity. With absolutely no control over the situation, all I can do is bow down at the feet of the cross where Jesus died and echo the same words He spoke before–Not mine, but Thy will be done … in this boy’s life.

Because Jesus did it, I can do it too. I can die to myself in all things and trust in God.

Today is Good Friday and it is indeed and truly GOOD because we know the story does not end with death, but it ends with LIFE. It ends with victory and it ends with triumph. That is what I wait and hope for…the good that is yet to come and God’s perfect and good will in each of these children’s lives until… it is finished.

Thy will be done, Lord.

Our First 100 Days

Our First 100 Days

It has been 24 hours since we brought home an enormous bundle of joy, packaged inside of this little 3 year old boy–our first placement. I’ve heard many stories of foster children and adopted children before, but they varied so much that we really did not know what to expect. At the very least, I tried to brace myself for a difficult transition by reading books on trauma, making phone calls to my support network, and praying desperately on my knees for patience and love. After all, no matter how much love we were ready to give him, the reality was that he was being torn apart from the only family that he knew and being thrown into a complete stranger’s home. And I was right–it did not start off easy.

Walking out of the social services office, the caseworker followed us to our car, doing her best to not let the flailing, screaming, kicking body fall out of her arms and onto the concrete below. He was crying bloody murder as if we were kidnapping him, and it sure did look that way. Once we got him in the car, it took both my husband and I to use all our strength to hold him down and strap him into the car seat. We both broke a sweat and tears began to break through the huffing and puffing as I wondered to myself, what in the world are we doing.

A few rows away in that parking lot was his mother, equally distraught, and they both screamed after one another, trembling with rage and confusion, as we finally drove away. I was sitting in the back seat next to him while he screamed the entire hour ride home and my husband and I just glanced at each other with helpless eyes through the rear view mirror.

But then it was done. As we pulled into our neighborhood, his crying suddenly ceased as we joked over his confession that he pee’d in his pull-up. We laughed and wiped away our tears and since then have become the best of friends. He has fit right in with our rowdy family of 5 (7 including the grandparents) and has stolen each of our hearts, even Grandpa Kim who this morning could not even look at him with dry eyes.

Everyone had woken up before him and was already eating pancakes when he was still fast asleep on his super hero bed that we prepared for him. I sat there beside him waiting for him to wake up because I did not want him to open his eyes and be afraid. Soon, my daughter Kindle came in and sat on my lap looking with me at this new person in our home. I asked, “isn’t he amazing?” to which she replied, “he’s beautiful.”

And as I sat there looking at him, I felt my heart torn apart. On one hand, I could feel my heart had miraculously already expanded to love this new little guy in my life as if he were one of my own, but on the other hand, I felt the pain of his past and the pain of his unknown future. This placement was meant to only be for 100 days and while I never thought this would happen, I began to fear the moment I will have to let him go.

100 days. That is his mother’s deadline to get her life in order and then a decision will be made. The “ideal” situation would be that she will be doing great and he and his brother and sisters will be able to go home. But will she be able to give him the best? Will she be able to love, protect, and teach him the way that he needs her to? Will she speak life into him, pray for him, and comfort him when he needs her to? All my motherly instincts kicked in and I wasn’t sure if I could let him go.

But of course, I will have no choice. If all goes according to plan, he will return to her in 100 days. So I began to surrender his life back to the Lord…that it wouldn’t be my will or my love in his life, but that GOD will be with him wherever he goes. I had to lay his life down at the cross.

Then, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best for him really is to be with his mom. The mom God gave him. The mom, who like me, is broken and makes mistakes. The mom who I can so easily judge to be inferior for the bad decisions and shortcomings in her life. The mom whom when he woke up, this little boy immediately called out for.

He really needs his mom, I realized, and I have made up my mind to pray for her. To pray that she will be restored, healed, and made whole in these next 100 days. To pray that she will meet Christ in a new way and find her identity and the strength and love to care for the beautiful children she has been entrusted with. Yes, I will pray for her and hope in God for what He can do in her life, and in the meantime, I will also love this precious life in our house and hope that he walks away with a little more than what he came here with because he has already given us so much. He has changed our lives forever and I am so thankful for this time.

Thank you God for how you bring families together and how you keep families together as well. Above all, I trust you Lord.

Home for the New Year

Home for the New Year

I have a confession to make. In recent years, I have discovered that I really love good gifts.

For a while, however, I was in denial and convinced myself and others that gifts did not matter to me at all. I thought they were a waste of money, superficial, and a poor substitute for showing “real love.”

My husband didn’t believe me for a long time. Even though I told him over and over again not to buy things for me, he always had a gift ready for every occasion and some for no occasion at all. Then about four years into our marriage, he considered that I might have actually meant what I had been saying all those years, so he decided to stop buying gifts for me altogether.

That year, there was no gift for valentine’s day, nothing for my birthday, nothing for our anniversary, and then nothing when Christmas rolled around. Absolutely nothing.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly when I realized that I really love gifts, because to both his and my surprise, I was really upset.

“But… I thought you didn’t like gifts, babe…”

“I know….that’s what I thought too…. I don’t know why I’m so sad.. maybe I do…”

Since then, I have become keenly aware of how much it means to me when I get a good gift because receiving a good gift means that I was on someone’s mind. It means that they found me valuable and worthy enough to spend their time on me, their energy, and their resources. It was costly in many different ways, but they did it with joy as an expression of their love. And that is why I love a good gift–it evidences LOVE.

And I believe that is why God loves to give gifts to us, too. Because He loves us and wants us to know it. He delights in giving good gifts—perfect gifts in fact—and He knows exactly what we want and need. God showers us with reminders of His love through sometimes big and sometimes small, but always precious and perfect, gifts.

Last week for example, He gave us a beautiful, new house. I’m sitting in it now looking  at the new appliances and the freshly painted walls, and I am still in disbelief. I am awestruck, really, not because the house is so magnificent, but because it is…perfect. It is perfectly charming, it is perfectly warm, and it has been perfectly well-kept and made ready for our family. And not only that, but it came at the perfect timing.

You see, back in 2014, it was New Year’s eve, and we were praying for a word for the new year. Foster care and adoption were newly on our hearts, but in the process, the social worker had told us that we needed more room to meet their housing requirements. So we looked into the possibility of moving. Unfortunately, we were financially tied down to that house and we couldn’t even afford to sell our home, let alone buy a new one.

Yet when we went to pray that night, kneeling in the middle of our living room floor and wondering how this would all work out, the clock struck midnight and we were ushered into the new year with encouragement. Danny and I both clearly felt the Lord tell us that He would deliver us into the promise land within the third year. So, we had peace to wait, and when I say God has perfect time, I mean He has PERFECT timing.

We moved in last week on December 30, and as we hauled in box after box, we marveled at the fact that it was exactly the third year since that word we received from the Lord. So we got to spend our first full day in our new house on New Year’s eve, and once again, we knelt down on our new living room floor, this time, to praise God for bringing us here in His perfect timing.

Those years of waiting in between, however, were necessary for so many different reasons as His will perfectly unfolded. There were days it was difficult to wait. Days we felt like we had setbacks and delays. Days we wondered if He would really come through for us or if we should just go back to the way things were. But then again, these were days we needed to grow and prepare. Days we were challenged to increase our faith in Him and love for others. Days full of miracles and prayers answered in His perfect way. Three years’ worth of days needed to make His perfect will come to pass.

God has made and continues to make ALL THINGS in our lives work for our good, and LIFE itself and everything in it truly become good and perfect gifts. They are part of His perfect will.

And now, we continue to wait on the Lord. We wait for the children who will come into our home. We wait for the lives that will be changed, including our own. But most of all, we wait for Christ, our most perfect gift, to come back and bring us to our heavenly home. For we know full well that this home now is just one stepping stone on the way to heaven where Jesus is also waiting to welcome us Home.

Thank you Jesus for this house. I really love Good gifts.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Could I Foster a Black Child

Could I Foster a Black Child

A few nights ago, my husband and I attended a foster care info meeting in DC. It has been three years since we felt the call to foster or adopt and what brought us all the way out to DC this particular night was a connection we had made with a DC Christian nonprofit that had similar vision and values as ours.

So after fighting through the horror of DC rush hour traffic, I flew up the stairs of the small, narrow building and entered a small conference room, frazzled yet smiling and happy to be there. Then for the next two hours, we were given a wealth of information–resources, procedures, and regulations all about the foster care system in DC.

With so much information and very little time, the presenter had to move fast, and although everything she was saying was heart wrenching stuff, there was really no time to process any of it. From slide to slide, we glazed over horrifying statistics and the dismal state of the child welfare system in DC, not to mention the entire country. I could scarcely keep up with the notes I was wildly trying to jot down until this one slide that stopped me in my tracks. At the very top, it read:

95% of children in DC’s foster care are African American.

95%??? Wow that’s a lot, I thought. From there, the presenter went on to explain how since none of us were black, any one of us fostering in DC would have to be prepared to provide transracial care to a black child and described what that might look like.

That’s when I stopped listening. 95% are black. That meant that if I were to foster in DC, which we were seriously beginning to consider, we would more than likely be fostering black children. For some reason, I did not know how I felt about that. In fact, there were a whole bunch of mixed feelings that all came up at once which I was not sure I could explain.

So I said it to myself again. 95% are black. Ok…simple enough. In my mind, that should have been no problem. I love black people. I grew up being friends with plenty of black people and in fact, one of my best friends were black. Heck, one of my greatest spiritual mentors and confidants right now is a black woman.

So why was I feeling nervous? Why was I feeling fear? What about bringing a black child into my home made me pause? A dozen questions and emotions filled my mind and what it ultimately came down to was a question of, could I foster a black child?

I did not have a clear answer.

I was at this meeting to talk about foster care, something I had been prayerfully considering for years and would fight for in an instant, but I was not expecting nor was I prepared for a discussion on race, much less all the unprocessed emotions I suddenly felt. But now that it was a real and most likely possibility that the child we would foster would be black, I was blindsided completely by the topic and my mixed feelings.

On the drive home through the quiet late night air, the tension and the question still floated through my mind. Could I foster a black child? Mostly, I was disturbed that it was even a question at all because I knew it should not be. But suddenly, I found myself forced to also question my values, my views, my beliefs, and my stance on how I felt about another race, specifically the black race, which as of late, has been the hot topic in our community, our church, and in our nation.

In fact, over the last month or so, I have been having many conversations with both black and nonblack friends about these recent acts of violence and injustices against the black community and what our response should be. Yet the truth was, all I had really done was maybe shake my head and say a few words under my breath which were meant to be sympathetic, but was mostly lip service (to who, I don’t know), and then I just went on with my day. Yet the more these conversations have been happening, the more I realized how wrong my passive stance has been.

But what could I do? I could not will myself to feel something I’m really not nor do something I don’t really believe. So all I did was begin to ask God to change my heart, to BREAK my heart for what was happening, and to give me opportunities to do something about it.

Yet I never expected it to be like this. Certainly not here and not now. But for the first time, I really started to see how this was a real problem. It was everywhere and it was time that I really came to terms with what was happening in our world and what was really in my heart.

So as the days passed, I continued to wrestle with the issue and with myself and with whether or not I could foster a black child. Until one day, I woke up and while coloring with my 3 year old daughter, I finally realized that the reason fostering a black child was such an issue to me was because I knew full well that our society is plagued with and completely polluted by racial injustices against blacks…. and I was afraid I might actually have to do something about it.

When and if push came to shove with a black child in my house and their biological family, could I stand up and fight for them? Could I get that close to the issue.

It  wouldn’t be ok to just be comfortable with black people or even just like them and respect them, but I would have to truly love them, which right now meant standing up for them, advocating for them, and fighting for justice on their behalf when they are stripped of their rights, their dignity, and their very lives during these times.

So again, right there on the floor with my children and crayon in hand, I heard the question once more and this time it was from the Lord.

Could you foster a black child.

And immediately, I wept. I wept and I repented because my answer should have always been  yes and I wept because I knew what deep pains might be there in that black child’s life.

And for the first time, I felt holy anger. I heard the cries of the blood of black lives in graves and behind bars and those at home still screaming for justice today. Then I wondered, why are they the only ones crying out? Why are we, why am I not crying out with them?  And why, in God’s name, am I hesitant to put myself in a situation where I might actually be able to make a difference in the lives of people I love, cherish, and admire.

The question should be, “Why wouldn’t I foster a black child?” .

Why have I been afraid to say, to declare, to SHOUT OUT that BLACK LIVES MATTER? Because yes, it is absolutely worth saying in these times when it has become undeniably evident that even after all the progress we thought we had made, it is sadly still the unrelenting truth that black lives are often times still seen, deemed, and treated as less.

So I will say it again and again, BLACK LIVES MATTER because ALL lives matter.

The times are clear and we can all do something where we are. Don’t be afraid to say something, do something, and stand where God calls us to stand. Quite frankly, that time and place is here and now.

And the answer is yes.