How Haiti Prepared Me For Foster Care


Once upon a time, I went on a short term mission trip to Haiti.

I had read all about how such things often hurt as much as they help, and I was keenly aware that I was only a tiny part of the story that God had begun writing in his people there long before I arrived and would continue long after I left.

We were a few days in when I dared to speak the truth during one of our team debriefing times.

It’s hard for me to really be here—to really love, I confessed, when I know I am going home in a few days.

I’m sure the actual words that my teammate spoke in response were kind and gracious, but the words that Jesus spoke through him to my heart were unmistakable.

That’s you being selfish.  Love in this day.  They’re my people anyway—not yours.

I spent the next few days falling deeply in love with people and communities that I knew I would be leaving soon.

I remember distinctly watching the city of Port au Prince disappear beneath the clouds one day before Easter Sunday.

I knew he was right.

He loved these people, these communities, more than I ever could.

All I could do was love in this day.

I arrived home and started almost immediately on the crazy journey of foster care.

Although I expected it to be hard, there are a few things that really took be by surprise.

One of those things is how much my love would multiply over the next few years.

How each sad story (and friends, every foster care story is a sad story) would stab my mama-heart and send me scrambling to make space for just one more.

I was reminded of the city of Port au Prince disappearing beneath the clouds the other day.

I had dragged my babies all over town in the pouring rain trying to make Christmas happen for one of the Little Ones.

It seemed like we were foiled at every turn and I was feeling a bit frantic (ok, maybe more than a bit).

Surely if I made one more phone call, we could get this done.

I wanted this Little One to be mine.  To be my responsibility.

Do you want to know a secret?

I want all of the Little Ones to be mine.

Every.  Single.  One.

And they are not.

Home with my soaking wet and surprisingly cheerful babies,

I watched this Little One, all the Little Ones,

Disappear beneath the clouds.

They’re my people anyway—not yours

He reminded me.

And once again, I opened my hands and released my death-grip to the loving Father who is infinitely more capable of taking care of Little Ones than I am.

It won’t be my last death-grip—I’m pretty sure of that.

And so I am grateful for words of truth spoken in a vulnerable moment.

That echo these many years later.

4 thoughts on “How Haiti Prepared Me For Foster Care

  1. Erin

    Girl you are going to make me cry again. I remember a friend reminding me while we were fostering that no child was “mine”. It’s a hard but true sentiment. I still struggle with feelings of mineness though. I want them all to be mine too. Even though they aren’t.

    • Shannon

      Definitely one of the toughest parts of fostering for me is hearing the stories and feeling the weight of them because I know that every story represents real, live children. So tough. I always say it’s the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. Good to know that I am not alone.

  2. deansandrazmm

    How very true. I need to remind myself that “my” children are not mine, even though we adopted them. I tend to cling so tightly to them, but in reality they are only loaned to me for a time

    • Shannon

      This IS true for all “our” kids (bio, adopted, foster). Foster care just makes us super aware of it all the time. Thanks for stopping by to read! 🙂

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