What is my biggest fear? It’s fear of failure.
So I plan, work hard, think through all the details, work harder to make sure it all works and is a success.
Most of the time that works.
Until it doesn’t.
This year we had the opportunity to bring a family member, who we did not know existed, into our home. To live with us, to become part of our family, to be adopted out of the foster system. By this world’s standards we had all that she needed. We looked great on paper. We sounded great to all of the CPS workers. Our references gave us glowing reviews. Home visits, left the Workers marveling at what a great opportunity this was for her.
Can you see my chest swelling and my head getting bigger? I could too, even at the time. We all know what’s coming, because pride comes before the fall.
We’ve raised two children fully and another is more than half way grown. One more a little younger should not be that difficult, right?
There was space at our private school in the right grade. We had an extra bedroom. People at church and my work were more than generous with clothes, shoes, gift cards, Christmas gifts, all the material needs, and more!
We were vastly unprepared.
When things didn’t go well, I worked harder.
She is eight years old. We placed her back in first grade. She struggled. But with my assiduousness she did pretty well. We checked all of her work. She reworked it. She had to learn to read the spelling words before memorizing them, but a day later would forget that she could even read the word.
Reading improved to the lower end of first grade level. Where we had always pushed our boys to be over-achievers, for her it was enough just to be an achiever.
But there was an unwillingness in her. She didn’t want to be with us. We asked too much of her. She didn’t understand our requests for the truth. She couldn’t grasp accountability and responsibility.
The first time we were in counseling she asked to go back to foster care. I was devastated and mad.
Didn’t she know how hard I was trying to help her? Didn’t she see how much I/we were doing for her?
It was too much.
The counselor told me that it was time to make a change in order to protect the one we had left at home. The one who had prayed for years for a younger sibling. The one who at age 4 heard on the radio about kids in foster care and said that we should bring them to our house because we have enough room for more.
I’d be a failure. People would think I gave up on her.
She did not go back to foster care. My husband’s sister, her grandmother, agreed to bring her to live with her and her two brothers. This gave her great satisfaction. She missed her older brothers a lot.
I wish I could tell you it is a happily ever after story, that once she arrived with her grandma she settled in and became agreeable. She didn’t.
I wish I could tell you that she is happy. She isn’t. She’s still running. Still resisting.
A few good things I can share:
She was happy to hear bible stories and she could remember them.
She was fascinated with the creation story. It is a wonderful story and I did see it through her eyes of wonder and amazement.
She liked to pray at night before bedtime. She prayed for her mom to make better choices, and for animals and sick people.
She memorized bible verses for school and would keep most of what she memorized.
Had I failed? Yes, by my standards I had. She hadn’t assimilated into our way of living. She was no longer living with us. We were not a good fit for each other. We were unprepared for her needs.
We were obedient to God’s request to bring her to our home. By doing that I think she was able to be reunited with her brothers. Strictly in the ‘system’ I don’t think anyone would have listened to that request.
It still feels like I failed. Did life go on? Yep.
We three left at home were so much more appreciative of our ability to get along with each other. To be able to make a joke. To laugh without hurting her feelings.
Perhaps we planted a seed or two that might begin to grow in the years to come.
I pray for her regularly. That she would find peace in Jesus alone.
Andrea Sellers is mom to three boys (two grown and one still at home), has the best daughter- in-love, is Grandie to the two most adorable grandkids around and been married for over thirty years. She found True Peace and healing from past hurts after many years of trying to do it her way.