My life is often compared to the life of Mary in the movie, The Wedding Planner. As a photographer, I've spent my weekends celebrating marriages and my weekdays editing images of blissful newlyweds. For eight years, I've gone home to a quiet home, which I share with my English bulldog. I have lived my life capturing moments of connection and togetherness for families and couples, while never creating these moments of my own.
I've always been a "natural" with babies and children, so I've had multiple friends suggest fostering and adoption. My immediate response was, 'No' because I felt like I would be skipping a step by heading straight for a child without having a husband first. Single life felt like a season of waiting for my life to begin.
When I put a face to a child in need, my eyes were opened and I saw the idea of myself fostering without a husband in a new way. I am more than capable of raising a child and there are children that need me. Single moms raise babies every day. Why was I waiting for a husband to start my life? The idea became a reality for me and I immediately contacted the county where I live and started the process.
This August will be one year since my fostering journey began. My first baby was an 8-day-old baby girl, who was born addicted to drugs. Caring for an infant, while she was weaning off drugs was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done. She needed to be held all day long and the nights were pure hell. It happened to be the busiest season of my career, so I couldn't take time off from work. I've never experienced exhaustion like I did in those few months.
In the very beginning of navigating those endless, difficult nights, I heard the song, "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle. There is a lyric that says, "I will send out an army to find you in the middle of the darkest night, I will rescue you." In my spirit, I heard God whisper, "...As you rescue this baby, I'm sending you an army to strengthen and rescue you."
One of the most beautiful ways I experienced the love of God was through the support that gathered around me. Family, friends, and past clients reached out to me, offering to babysit, sending me baby supplies, dropping off groceries, taking night shifts, you name it! I was not on this journey alone. There was an army behind me.
In the moments when I thought I couldn't do it any longer, my family would call saying - "I'm sleeping over tonight to help you." or "What do you need from the grocery store?"
In the middle of my darkest night I received just enough to keep going.
People often say that they could never foster because it's just too painful to give the baby back. This was my biggest source of anxiety through the fostering process. The night before I had to give her back, I stayed up with her the entire night - I sang to her, rocked her, held her tiny hands. It's hard to explain why, but I had total peace. It was like Jesus was in the room with us. I've never had to trust Him on a level this deep. I had to trust that His ways are perfect and He knows the outcome of her sweet story. I'm trusting that her time in my care made a difference in her life. I was giving of myself, knowing I'd possibly not get anything but a broken heart in return. As much as I wanted it to be, this story wasn't about me. It was about one precious life that I may never be a part of again.
While I began fostering with the hope of fulfilling my desire to be a mom, walking through this process has taught me about the selfless heart of Christ. We give to these babies / children and expect nothing in return. Just as He gives to us and expects nothing in return. We fight for those who can't fight for themselves...just as He fights for us.
Now 7-months into caring for my second foster baby, I have gained a deeper understanding of the real meaning of foster care. The heart behind foster care is selfless love. It's God's heart. I won't ever do this perfectly. My selfish nature will consistently get in the way. But, I have a perfect love that I can look up to for guidance and strength.
This blog was sent into Hope Rises by guest blogger, Sarah Bridgeman of Buffalo, NY. To follow other stories of love and hope, click here.