Release. . . what it "should" look like

Our foster daughter Allie turns 18 tomorrow.  Despite her painful, tumultuous exit from our home, and through many ups and downs, she will celebrate the day as a part of our family.

A year ago, my hopes for this day were warm and rosy, though grounded (I thought) in the difficult realities of raising a foster teen.

Six months ago, I had no hopes at all for this day; only worry, sadness, and a nagging sense of failure.  Her presence with us now, though still challenging and loaded with baggage, is nothing short of miraculous.

A few months after Allie left our home for a state-run group home six hours away, I ran across a picture of a family with young children that had taken in a 16 year old foster girl. Their story is a lot like ours, except that the girl settled well into their family and they adopted her.  The girl is around 22 now, attending community college, and moving on out in the world: obviously attached and verbally grateful to her new family.  I shared the story with my husband. . . and I wept.  "That is what I wanted," I told him, aware of the selfishness and small-visioned nature of my words.  "We can still have it," he said, "it just isn't going to look like you thought."

I sure love that man.

When Allie first left our home, she spiraled out of control.  It was a very real possibility that we could have gotten that call that parents dread: the one to tell us she was in jail, or missing, or found in a ditch somewhere.  Miraculous.

via flickr

Readers of this blog may recall that our daughter was not able to come home for Christmas due to frequent running away and other behaviors.  However, in January, her social worker was able to get her moved to a much better group home, and things started improving.  By Easter, Allie was able to come home for a brief visit with our family.  We all survived that pretty well, and Allie has continued to be fairly stable in her life, so she is able to come again.  The State of California has now paid twice to fly one of its foster youth to our home.  Miraculous again.

I don't want to belabor the point because the story speaks for itself.  As with nearly everything in life, I'm learning, our foster story doesn't look like I hoped, or like I think it should, or like anything that makes earthly sense, but it is still woven through with love, healing, and beauty.  Isn't that the point?

I can hang on to the dream I had when I started, or I let that and let myself be a part of the story God is obviously still writing.  Release.

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