Some of you may know that in addition to my home-life with my husband and 13-year old ALMOST ADOPTED daughter, I work at a homeless shelter. I just completed my first year here. I handle the educational part of a drug and alcohol recovery program aimed at finding the root causes and ending homelessness for the women we serve. So I teach or facilitate math, writing, computer and financial classes. I love that everyone in the program is required to spend 2 hours a day with me. I get to know people I would not have interacted with otherwise over several years. I get the privilege of hearing their stories and seeing them grow.
One of the things I DID NOT expect was how blessed I would be by the comments and encouragement of women who are on the other side of adoption and foster care. Somehow, despite the fact that many do not have relationships with their own children they have become some of the most encouraging voices I hear.
Working here has expanded sights to see how God restores people's lives. The sad, messy truth is that often the things that haunt people can't be fixed in a matter of a few years. In fact, I've heard that it takes 5 years of the right kind of work on your life to solidly be on the path of recovery. I don't know about you, but from my experience most people don't like to change because someone says they should, and wait instead until they absolutely have to. The excruciating pain of not being able to be in a child's life can further the spiral and add further depression, drug abuse, and self destructive behavior.
This is normally the time when those who are able to care for the children involved are introduced onto the scene. Right in the middle of the worst of the worst time in their life. I hear people talk about how someone "Isn't a safe person" and use that current reality to justify cutting off future contact. I just want to suggest that in all the thoughts about this you add one thing... "Right now"
His Biological mom isn't safe right now.
The family doesn't understand boundaries right now.
She isn't able to be part of her life... RIGHT NOW.
There is a huge difference in these thoughts. I've met women who are amazing Christian women 10 years to late to raise their children. People who are working hard at addressing the root issues that caused them to be hurt, and in turn hurt others. It takes a lot of reconciliation. But that is what God does.
In a strange way it has been a blessing to me to see first-hand the lives on the other side of the equation. Rather than selfishly holding on to what is "ours" I hope that other adoptive parents can vow to never shut the door entirely. Yes, protect your kids if it isn't safe right now. But hold on to the hope that someday it could be. Pray fervently for them and don't give up hope.
And when it does come around, celebrate! You saw a miracle before your very eyes. Someone who was stuck in self-destruction is set free! Someone who limped along in life can walk forward once again. Someone who was blind to the hurt they were feeling and the hurt they caused others can see clearly.
It is easy to categorize people. But my experience is that there is often much more going on. Brokenness comes from somewhere. And I believe that God can restore that too.