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FIRST-PERSON Her 10 years of foster parenting: not ‘easy,’ but yes, it’s be

CARMI, Ill. (BP)–It was just the other day when Carla Monroe invited us out to lunch to celebrate our 10-year anniversary as foster parents for the Baptist Children’s Home of Illinois. What? Had it really been 10 years? I couldn’t believe it.
That’s when I started thinking about how we went from being a normal family, with two children of our own, to becoming very busy foster parents as well as adoptive parents to our own beautiful baby girl.
The year was 1988. We had seen an article in the Illinois Baptist. Foster parents were urgently needed for newborns awaiting adoption. We jumped at the chance without hesitation. After all, it would be easy and lots of fun. Or so we thought…
We have provided care for 31 precious children of various racial backgrounds. Once they were in our home, the color of their skin didn’t matter, they were just God’s children and they all needed extra love. Most were babies but a few were older children. Some only stayed a few days, others a few months. One special little boy has been in foster care awaiting an adoptive family for two years.
Every child who has passed through our home has been unique. There were those babies who were easygoing, smiling at everything and a joy to be around. Then there were others who were a bit more challenging. One baby boy cried the whole three months that we had him. Another was born heroin-addicted. The older ones really kept us on our toes. I remember one particular little 5-year-old girl who talked nonstop. She had never before even had a bed of her own, her clothes were nothing more than rags and her shoes were so small that her little toes curled up and hurt. I’ll never forget the pride on her face when she started her first day of school in a pretty new dress and shoes.
Then in 1991 Jimmy came along. He was 2 months old and extremely malnourished. He was easy to care for and he needed extra cuddling and lots of love. We were thrilled when the doctor told us he was gaining weight and progressing well. Then one cold Sunday morning in March the most unthinkable happened, Jimmy died suddenly in his sleep. Even though several years have passed, it is still hard to think back to that time in our lives. We rest assured, though, that Jimmy felt loved while in our home. Someday we will see him again in heaven. Until then, Jimmy is at home with the Lord.
Today, and for most of the past two years, we have been foster parents to 7-year-old Paul. He has undoubtedly been our biggest challenge. Paul came to us at the age of 4. We will never forget the day we walked into the office to pick him up and witnessed the destruction of everything in his path. My husband and I gave each other that look that says, “Oh no, what are we getting ourselves into now?” Our instincts told us we should leave. Our hearts told us better, and we took him home.
Paul refused to listen when spoken to, he hit, bit, kicked and spit on anyone who tried to control him. He repeated everything we said, making it difficult to know what he wanted or needed. At mealtime he used both hands to shove food in as fast as he could. We really had our work cut out for us if we were going to be able to care for this child. We needed God’s help and we needed it fast. It’s been a long two years since Paul came into our lives. The change in this child has been miraculous. He has become a very charming, well-mannered little boy. I believe God gave us the skills to reach this child. Sure, there are still challenging times, but that’s all right. We thank God for Paul’s life. Our prayer today is for Paul to have a permanent home. He needs and deserves a mommy and daddy to call his own.
Oh, I wouldn’t want to forget to mention our own little angel that God blessed us with. In August 1989 we adopted a beautiful baby girl. She is 9 years old now and we thank God for her every day.
These past 10 years have put our family on a huge roller coaster of emotions. There have been some happy times and really bad times, but God has never failed to sustain us through it all. He has carried us when we thought we couldn’t take another step, he held us close to him when Jimmy died and he rejoiced with us when the precious daughter we were adopting was born.
I often think back to the time when I thought foster care was going to be really easy and fun. Well, I definitely was wrong about the easy part but I have to admit, for the most part it really has been fun.

    About the Author

  • Janice Crawford