Mark Rodriguez had a huge heart for the orphaned and oppressed. Since it is National Adoption Awareness Month, we will take a few posts to talk about the many ways one can help address the problem of children who are living without families.
Special thanks to my friend Sara Beth Roberts for sharing her experience with our God is Super Good community!
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a desire to do Foster Care. Although my husband and I have 4 children of our own, we both felt that God was calling us into this area of ministry. For many years, it was something that I planned to do in the future, and finally one day the future was staring me in the face.
If you really know me, this won’t surprise you, but the day I called the city of Virginia Beach for more information and the day we attended our first night of training was the same day. My husband, who certainly after all these years was not totally surprised, got a phone call that went something like this: “I called for some information and signed us up to start the training—tonight.”
My husband and I sat through weeks of classes—we listened intently to everything that was said by all the experts and especially the other resource parents. I prayed that God would unite our hearts and that His purpose would be revealed to us. I was excited and terrified at the same time. Our first long term placement was a 7 year old boy--the same age as my second son. I remember standing, with the phone to my ear, staring at the empty bed in my son’s room—why would we NOT give him a home here? I picked him up in the next 30 minutes, and on the way home one single tear slipped down his cheek. He was always so very brave. He was an only child, so I think our full house was overwhelming to him, however he never really said much at all. He ate all of my cooking, and I still think of him at dinner time. We took him to the beach for the very first time and we taught him to ride a bike.
When I first thought about Foster care I had big dreams—this child would be so thankful to me and would love our family. I selfishly thought that he would be grateful because we had “rescued” him, but I never thought about the fact that he loved HIS family—he did not want to be rescued. This was a hard pill for me to swallow—I wanted to be loved by him and some part of me wanted thanks (if I am being completely honest.) The burden of caring for a child who did not love me back became very heavy.
One night, I closed my eyes and begged God to help me—I did not even know what to say. Finally, I muttered: Help me love him as YOU do. Help me lay my own selfishness aside—the part of me that wants everything to be so tidy and perfect. It was a dying to self over and over again. What’s amazing is that my kids did this so well—seemingly without any problem. They shared and encouraged and loved big. They made room for him, accepting him in ways that I struggled with, loving him even if he did not love back.
In the months that he lived with us, we got to know both of his parents. My heart broke for them as they worked to get their son back. This was something that I never expected, but we were able to pray for his family. We were able to share Jesus with them, and hopefully they were able to see Christ’s love through us. Our entire family was able to see their family knit back together and made whole, and that was so rewarding and so unexpected. On the final court date, I could not even muster a word to say to the judge through my tears—I was overwhelmed with what the Lord had done. I was so thankful to have been even a small part of the story. After the hearing, his Mama hugged me so tight and said: “Thank you for loving him as your own—thank you for loving my baby when I wasn’t able too.”
When he got off the bus that day, I told him he was going home. “Today?” he said. “Yes.” He grabbed my neck and hugged me so tight, for the very first time. He looked me right in the eyes and said: “Is Jesus for me too?” “Yes. A million times YES—of course he is for you too.”