My first post of this series shared how Vanessa came to be in our family. In this post, I want to give you a peek into my brain and thought process when we first heard about a relative placement.
Vanessa’s Story: Part Two—Hearing about Grandma
After 4 weeks of contacting CPS to inquire about visits with bio family and to see if there were any relatives who wanted to begin getting to know Vanessa, our caseworker was changed. The new caseworker returned my calls (after leaving 7 messages) and told me that there was a paternal grandma in Texas, Vanessa Sr. She said that this grandma had been calling daily since December 24th trying to get information. Vanessa Sr. had sent clothes, pictures, and letters. Of course, none of this information had been given to me.
I walked over to my husband’s study and sat on his couch and cried; tears of joy and tears of sorrow. It is such a hard thing to explain the mixed emotional reaction. I loved this baby dearly and I was afraid of losing her. Even though I logically realized that she was never mine to begin with and theologically I believed she belonged with biological family if possible, but my heart was still aching because I absolutely adored this baby girl. I also felt heartbroken for the grandma who had been trying to figure out where her grandbaby was for weeks with no response!
But I was also simultaneously full of joy that the Lord had answered my prayers! This precious little one that I loved was not an orphan after all! Because of my deep love for this baby girl, it would be incredibly selfish to wish she had no family so that I could adopt her. Because of the depths of my love, I wanted and prayed that the Lord would do a miracle and let this baby be reconciled to her family.
My tears and emotions were conflicting: fear vs. joy; the desire to tighten my grasp and hold on to this little one who I loved vs. the desire to do everything within me to get her to her back to her biological family. For a fe w minutes I contemplated my options and the crossroad before me. One choice (which many good, well-intentioned foster families make), was to tighten my grasp, avoid bio-grandma, wait until CPS ordered/directed phone visits, and hope that in the mean time…baby Vanessa would be with me for so long that the courts would realize it was in her best interest to stay with us. The other choice was to call grandma, build a friendship, and try to get baby Vanessa connected to her grandmother.
The reality is I had no control of the outcome no matter the path I took, but one path would be more honoring to the Lord, a greater representation of his gospel, and more loving for Vanessa. The first option would still allow me to be a foster parent to Vanessa and do what the state has asked me to do. It would not have been sinful to avoid Grandma. I would have met Vanessa’s needs and provided a safe, loving home for however long the state let me keep her. But the second option would have been making foster care a ministryand not a means to adoption. It would have taken my calling to be a foster parent so that I can care for children and broadened that ministry to an entire family and CPS system.
It took me about five minutes to make that decision. Vermon and I quickly let go of our dream of adding Vanessa to a permanent part of our family (spoiler alert: God allowed that to happen in a different way anyway!) and I took a deep breath and picked up my phone to call Vanessa Sr.