The Sanders' Journey Through the Foster System

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Carter and I always knew that we wanted to open up our home in some form to children in need. When we first married, we thought that adoption was the avenue that the Lord would use, but years passed and our family kept growing and our hearts slowly changed. 4 children later and that calling for our family to adopt had all but disappeared. 

A little over a year ago Carter and I were sitting on the couch and we were talking about our relationships with Jesus and what life was like for our children. We talked about to what extent we were "laying our lives down" and really how life seemed quite comfortable. Carter's business was growing rapidly, our children were healthy and life was good. We felt lazy. We asked ourselves if that's how we were supposed to feel: comfortable? Was the call to care for "the widows and orphans" not something for all people? Were we living the life that Christ had called us to? How were we helping the orphan crisis right outside of our own back door?

Carter had always told me that our family was our greatest asset. Loving our children, or any children for that matter, would be a fulfillment of our calling. We were already in the thick of child rearing with our four, so adding another precious baby to the mix seemed natural. Our next step in being obedient to Christ and living in faith would be to open up our home to orphans - to the "least of these."

Last March, we called a private foster care agency, Angels Foster Family Network and asked if we could get an application. We attended an informational meeting and immediately started filling out paperwork. 3 months, a training day, CPR class, and a home study later we got the call that we were approved. It was May 31. We had a summer full of travel ahead of us so our caseworker suggested that we do respite care for other foster families that were traveling and couldn't take their foster children with them. So we spent our summer learning what age fit with our family and a little bit about how the system worked. On July 15, we got the call for a 5 week old baby girl. She was precious in every way and the perfect introduction to our journey. We only had Baby S for 1 week before she went home to her mom and dad. The very next day, July 22nd, we got the call for a 10 day old baby boy. I drove to the NICU that afternoon and picked up the sweetest 4lb 9 oz baby boy and we've been loving on him for the past 6 1/2 months.

The system is broken and our emotions are on high alert, realizing that these children need us and our love more than we need to be protecting ourselves from the grief of when they leave. But our children love this baby in our home and are learning the most invaluable lesson. Christ has called us to love the fatherless and to care for the least of these. There have been moments that have hurt and where I have longed for the comforts of our life before - the life before opening our home up to the hurt and brokenness of what being an orphan implies.

One thing I have learned is that it's okay to hurt. I pray that our hearts will continue to break for what breaks Gods.