Here am I...

My husband and I have been married for twenty years. Before we even got engaged we both agreed that a future plan in our life would be to adopt kids. Thankfully, we both felt that someday we would create a house for any child in need, whether they were ours biologically or not. Fast forward about eight years later and we were pretty surprised that we somehow had managed to have three biological kids within three years of age! And a few years later we would have a total of four kids! And yet, that call, that stirring that we were supposed to adopt was there. Even in the craziness of having a 4, 3, and 2 year old we managed to take our foster care licensing classes. I remember reading Isaiah 6:8-10 a lot, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, Send me!’” I kept praying God would send us to the right child who needed us. I told God that I would go in a heartbeat to help a child. Send me! But as a tired, working mom of three little ones I also began to doubt. I wondered why God would give me such a burden for adoption, while he also had given us three biological children? It was as though I thought it had to be one or the other! I could either adopt children, OR I could have all of these biological children. People would even tell my husband and I that it wasn’t right that we were thinking of doing foster care when we had children “of our own.” They told us our children could get hurt, or neglected, or wouldn’t have enough love to go around.

One night after a news story I remember feeling so sad that there were so many children without a home and I was stuck and unable to help them. I was reading Isaiah 6 again. But How could we possibly help as two busy working parents, also in ministry, and with little children? I told God that I remembered He had called us to foster and adopt, but then He gave me these beautiful biological children and so I guess that call was over for now. And then, my Bible fell open to a few chapters later. “Here am I Lord, and the children the Lord has given me.” (Isaiah 8:18). It was an answer just for me. The call to foster and adopt was from God, just as much as my beautiful children were from God. Both were mine to bring to Him and let God do what He would. I just needed to give it all to Him in the first place.

So now, almost 10 years later as we foster many children and prayerfully move toward adoption, I often have to look back at that verse. “Here am I Lord, and the children the Lord has given me.” (Isaiah 8:18). Being a foster parent is hard. Foster children are from hard places and they often didn’t ask to be rescued. In fact many times I think they feel more like they are kidnapped and my home is their prison! But as hard as it is on my husband and I, I know it is also hard on my biological children. There are many days that I worry that my choices to give all of our lives to God in this way is hurting them. When an over-medicated foster child is aggressive, will they be hurt? When another foster child is moved and they are grieving, will it be too much for them? When a youth foster child is suicidal and requires our attention 24/7, will they feel neglected? When a toddler foster child is screaming because the toddler doesn’t have the words or ability to describe their heartache, will they feel silenced? When a drug-exposed foster baby can’t sleep from withdrawals and I am up all night and too tired to make it to school events, will they feel unloved? But it is no accident that God called me to foster care, and also gave me this family. He called us all. It is our family offering to give, and it is God’s to share. I have to trust that all of my children are from God and there are no accidents. He has a plan, and I can see this constant giving, loving, sharing of our lives is expanding my children’s hearts. They have an understanding of brokenness, and pain, and sin, and the need for a Savior that they would not if it were not for this world of foster care that we bring into our home. So I bring my heart and my children to the Lord and ask Him to send us. Send us to the child that needs a home.

Sarah Oberndorfer