Now, as an adult, I know that in real life you don't make a choice part way through a story. Instead, the moment you make a choice is when the story begins. And sometimes you know exactly what the difficult, painful, complicated ending will be.
But you choose it anyway.
Though we've only been licensed for two years, Andy and I chose the twisting path of being foster parents ten years ago. In the fall of 2008, we attended a training class, filled out a bunch of paperwork, thought we were ready to move ahead...and then found out I was pregnant with Simon. This big news resulted in a long, winding detour, but after the birth of our second son and the completion of an international adoption (a whole different story), we were back to where we'd started. In a foster care training class.
I admit that the first time we took the class we were idealistic. Our parenting experience consisted of two beta fish who lived for about a month, two cats from the shelter, and one very amiable 2-year-old boy who never disobeyed and who potty-trained in mere days simply to please me. Plus, we were in our 20's. What did we know?
But we made the choice and eventually circled back to it. The second time our idealism was gone. Obliterated by the unmet expectations of adulthood, family conflicts, death and loss, experiences with trauma-informed behaviors, and over a decade of marriage. This time we knew what it meant when the social worker said, "It's going to be hard." We knew what it meant to feel lost and hopeless. Knew how deep the word hard could be.
We chose it anyway.
There are times I wish I could escape the pain. The hard. Times I almost wish I could go back to the beginning of the story and choose a different adventure. But if I did--if I flipped back to the first page and skipped all those chapters of heart-wrenching foster-care agony in favor of an easier ending--then I'd have to skip all the good parts, too. And I'd always wonder what I'd missed. I'd always wonder who would've helped the kids who came to our house if it wasn't us? Would they have been good people? Kind? Would they have loved them like we did?
So we keep reading, keep turning pages, knowing what lies ahead. Knowing it's going to hurt. And we trust in God, the Author of all Stories, to give us the strength to keep going. One adventure at a time.