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  • Trey Starnes

"And I Cried" - The Heart of Fostering - A guest blog.

Today, my little girl left for good.  She ran down the steps with smiles and chuckles, 2 large suitcases, 3 cartons of toys, a doll carriage, an enormous walking doll, a doll crib, a tricycle, and the wonderful knowledge that whatever was ahead, God would be there

My mind goes back to the timid little blonde three-year-old clinging to a Social Worker who had walked up those steps two, almost three years before.  In her hands a paper bag not large enough to be called a grocery bag.  Inside the bag were all her worldly belongings.  Her dark eyes intrigued me as I knelt down to get a closer look.

“Hello, Serena, they didn’t tell me you were so pretty!”.  She looked to both sides and then behind her. 

“Me?” she said. 

 A tear came to my eye; how could she not know she was precious and beautiful?

The first day, shopping was in order.  The clothes would have to wait until I had some money but the prettiest doll in the store had to be found. Serena was pretty and bright, a true survivor.  Inside, she was afraid of everything.  On the outside, she was demanding and stubborn.  Six foster homes in four weeks all claimed she was hard to handle.  Had they kept her long enough to give her a chance?  In time, with new clothes, a haircut, a few things of her own, and a lot of love, a new secure feeling came.  One Serena had not known before.  

The first Sunday, dressed in blue, hair gleaming, shiny new shoes, I sent her to show Daddy.  She was so beautiful I wanted to cry. How could anyone have abandoned her?!  

“See, Daddy, I’m going dancing; this is my dancing dress and my dancing shoes.”  

“No, today we are going to Sunday School to learn about God.”

“There is no God; No one has to take care of me; I can take care of myself.” Then she was quiet.  “When Mommy went dancing, she didn’t come back; I don’t want to go dancing.”

Serena was always up or down.  One day, an angel in blue, another coercing her foster brother to pocket the entire Sunday School offering to buy Christmas Presents.  At first, there were tantrums every day, then once a week, then once in a while.  Quite often, she would be in the cupboard grabbing a paper bag for her new belongings.

“I’m running away again!” 

There were times Serena claimed to hate us, times we were told to phone the social worker, “I’ve been here too long.”   In between, there were the peaceful, happy times with, “I love you, Mommy” or “Sorry, Daddy.”  At times, it felt like a roller coaster ride, and each day, we waited and wondered would this be the last hill, the last turn, what did God have in store for Serena.  After 2 or 3 years, we began to believe she would be ours forever. 

In the fall, one of the other children, Bruce, was adopted.  God began to prepare Serena.  By this time, Serena was a real tomboy.  No longer afraid of the dark, she turned off her own light at bedtime.  She would close the blinds and play monsters with Jason.  Once afraid to even touch a tree, she could climb higher than anyone else.  Her first doll was now headless, but she had 15 more and spent hours being a Mommy to them, telling them about Jesus and how he loved all the little children.

Together, we went through those first days of school, the excitement of Christmas mornings and Sunday School Concerts.  Together, we suffered through bronchitis and the hospital trip to get out the tonsils when I cried as much as she did.  Now, she is just a memory.

I think in this modern day of two-car garages, expensive vacations and stylish clothes.  People are forgetting the things that will last.  The love and care we give a child will remain with them.  A foster parent can change a child’s life; a child can change a foster parent’s life. 

“Whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me” Mathew 18:45 

That last morning, when my little girl saw my dark eyes, she hugged me and said, “Don’t worry, Mommy, God will take good care of me.”  I felt humble indeed, and I knew it was all worthwhile.  

A little piece of my heart went down the steps today with smiles, chuckles, two large suitcases, 3 cartons of toys, a doll crib, a tricycle, and the wonderful knowledge that whatever was ahead, God would be there.  

And I cried.

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