Almost seven weeks ago, my wife and I brought a baby home from the hospital. We had been expecting for about twenty-four hours. He’s staying with us temporarily until a permanent home can be found for him. But as each day passes, the realization that we will say goodbye to this little friend settles upon us. What a strange sensation to realize that this is part of what it means to “visit orphans” in their distress. It means giving, loving, bonding, and then releasing, sending away, saying goodbye.
I can imagine situations that are so difficult, so challenging that attachment is more difficult, and the thought of commitment being temporary might seem relieving. But this isn’t one of those situations. It wasn’t even a question. In God’s providence, this is a friend that has captured our hearts. He will always be in our prayers. We will always consider him one of the children the Lord gave us, if only for a number of months.
But why do this? And what exactly are we doing? It’s going to hurt us, but what about the baby? What about the trauma of attaching to a “mom and dad” and then being removed and placed into a new home?
I’m reminded of David’s prayer in Psalm 22: “Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you I was cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Ps. 22:9-10)
The reality is that we are all cast on God from birth. God takes each one of us from the womb, and we come face to face with a broken, uncertain world. Sometimes that uncertainty is found in the brokenness of our biological family. Sometimes the uncertainty is in the historical circumstances we come into. We are all born into a sinful world full of turmoil and tumult, violence and disarray. David was no stranger to abuse and scorn and neglect and loss. And he says, “Yet you are he who took me from the womb…” God is the one who brings us into the world in whatever circumstances He sees fit.
And why? He brings us into the world in order that we might learn to trust Him at our mother’s breast. What is God doing when an infant cries for milk and is comforted? What is God doing when a little one opens his tiny eyes with a furrowed brow and tries to focus on your face? God is teaching him to trust Him.
This is what we are always doing with our children, all of them. But this is particularly highlighted in foster care, especially in the temporary care of very little ones. What are we doing? We are teaching them to trust God. We are holding them close, kissing their cheeks, keeping them warm, filling their tummies with milk, smiling and praying over them, telling them over and over again in as many ways as we can, that even though the world is a dark and uncertain place, they are not alone. They have been cast on the One who made them, the One who holds all things perfectly under His gracious and sovereign care. They have been cast on God, and we are teaching them that they can trust Him.