Ring… ring… my cell phone chirps.
“Hello, Danielle speaking…”
It’s just an ordinary day in the life of a foster parent; at an unknown time and an unknown hour I am busying myself about with the tasks of life, and the phone rings, or a text comes through, and just like that, I have said ‘yes’ to welcoming a new person into my life.
Sometimes, I have loads of information about this new little person who will be – at least temporarily – joining my family. Sometimes, a name and a gender are all I am given, and I just hope and pray that the information is correct. In any case, I have said, ‘yes,’ and the journey is underway.
Before I became involved in foster care and adoption as a foster and adoptive parent, I would have thought that this was the last ‘yes’ I was required to make. ‘Yes,’ I will care for this child; it’s a done deal. However, as I have navigated the murky and stormy waters of falling in love with a child that is not biologically my own, I have learned that the ‘yes,’ I utter only begins with that initial phone call. Now I know that each day is a fresh new chance to say ‘yes’ to the child, to the situation, to love. This kind of constant ‘yes’ is not totally dissimilar to that of biological parenthood, but it has the added drawback of many extra unexpected situations and new information that could change the certitude of my initial ‘yes.’
I have had children show up at my house who were a different age entirely than what I was told over the phone. I have had children with difficult-to-control behaviors living under my roof. I have welcomed children with disabilities that only became apparent over time. Looking back, I realize that my initial ‘yes’ was but one step in a series of thousands of ‘yeses’ I say each day to love and to this unique child in my care. Yes, I will welcome an infant, but what do I say when a toddler arrives? Yes, I will welcome a well-mannered child but what do I say when troubling behaviors appear? Yes, I will love a child with a minor disability but what do I say when that disability becomes more all-encompassing?
Reflecting upon where I have been able to say ‘yes’ and where I have had to say ‘no’ over the years is always a humbling experience. However, drawing these experiences into prayer has helped me to see how they bring me closer to our mother, Mary. Mary – just like I did – had to give her initial assent, her initial ‘yes’ when the Angel Gabriel appeared to ask her to be the Mother of God. At that time, I cannot imagine that she fully comprehended all that she was saying ‘yes’ to experience. As a person bound in time, she could not say ‘yes’ to everything all at once but that first ‘yes’ opened the door to the others. Just think of it, Mary’s one ‘yes’ that day to become Jesus’ mother also required so many further ‘yeses’ from her as she endured suffering after suffering and finally watched her only Son die on the Cross. Her first ‘yes’ is made so much more beautiful when I realize that she did not know what was coming in the future, but was open to God’s will and to saying ‘yes’ to His will even when it became difficult.
This guidance from Mary can be a great balm to those of us foster and adoptive parents who daily must make big decisions that will affect many lives. We are all called by God to do something big and beautiful for this world. We must merely be willing to follow God’s will and submit our ‘yeses’ one day at a time, so that we take that next step of faith.
I am not sure what that next step of faith is for you and your family, or where God is calling for your next ‘yes.’ Maybe He is calling for you to take the leap to say ‘yes’ to becoming a foster and/or adoptive family (there is a difference). It is possible you are not called to do that personally, but you can say ‘yes’ to becoming a support person for someone who is called there. Or maybe your family is already actively involved as foster and/or adoptive parents and God is waiting for your next ‘yes.’ What is most important is that like Mary, we submit ourselves fully into His hands and that when He asks us to do something, we humbly reply, “I am yours, be it done unto me.”
I am praying for you!
Danielle Dyann Abril is the mother of many children through adoption, foster care, and biological motherhood. She home-schools her crew and in her spare time she is a writer and editor. She works with the Archdiocese of St. Louis Office of Natural Family Planning to share the good news about NFP with the world. She also writes on her personal blog, Unrepeatable Blessings and would love to connect with you personally.