Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When "No" means more than No

Moms have to say "No" a lot. No, you can't have cookies for breakfast. No, you can't go outside without a coat when it's -20 degrees. No, you canNOT talk to your sister that way. No, no, no, no, no.

We get kind of used to it, don't we? Kind of numb to the idea of it, the effect of it. We say "No" with both nonchalance and impunity, believing we know what we're doing.

I said "No" yesterday.

But it wasn't like any No I've ever said before. It was a No that cut me up and opened my eyes to what a burden the word No really is.

One of the hard-working, vastly underappreciated people at the Department of Public Health and Human Services called about a possible foster placement. LH has been gone for almost two months now, as you all know, and we've been wondering when we might get a call like this. We've been expecting it. Anticipating it, even.

But I said No.

The placement was for three children. Young children. Siblings DPHHS is trying to keep together if possible. Children who had already been removed from one home and turned out from another because the family couldn't make it work. (And go ahead and try taking in three traumatized little ones out of the blue one day before you dare judge a family who gave it their best shot but couldn't make it work.)

We knew going in that there would be moments like this. We knew it would be our responsibility to decide which placements we would or would not take. But nothing could have prepared me for the crushing weight of that small two-letter word.


I didn't want to say it. I knew what my No meant to those kids. It meant they would remain in limbo. It meant a loss of whatever love and stability they would find in our home. It meant they were that much more likely to lose each other, because with every No, DPHHS would become more and more desperate and begin to consider other options. Such as splitting them up. I did not want that for them. I did not want to say No.

I had a lengthy conversation with the woman on the phone. We discussed every angle of the situation, searching for solutions. Searching for hope. But in the end, we both agreed it wouldn't be a good fit. I can't and won't go into all the reasons for that, nor is it necessary for anyone to know, but a lot of it came down to simple geography. And so my answer was No.

A wise friend once told me that every time you say Yes to one thing, you're saying No to something else. Since that phone call yesterday, I've been trying to decide if the opposite is true. If saying No to those kids meant saying Yes to something else. And I think it did.

I think I said Yes to my family and what's best for them - Yes to the bigger picture of what's hopefully best for those three kids - Yes to the feeling in my gut that it was the right thing to do.

Yes to trusting that God has a plan. That He knows what He's doing.

But I sure hated to say No.


  1. Wow! So hard. It takes a certain strength to be able to stand firm in that situation and put your family first, even knowing it means putting another family second. But God doesn't call us to be the answer to every need. Even Jesus didn't meet every need, heal every person, talk to every child while He was here. Lord willing, your ability to say "no" means another family gets to say "yes." :)

    1. Thank you, Laurie. And you're right, I hope another family did say yes!