The word “Change” can be scary to most of us, whether it is good or bad. We know the Lord uses changes in our lives to help us to grow closer to Him. Even though the growth is for our ultimate good, it sometimes hurts and we often resist it. Children in foster care also struggle with change. One minute they can be sitting in their school classroom and the next minute they find themselves being transported to a foster home or group home. They may have little or no understanding of why it is happening. This is a traumatic event which can create fear, anxiety and distrust of others. It takes much love, patience, and prayer to overcome these difficulties. Over time, traumatized and hurting children can learn to build new relationships with their new caretakers. They can make new friends at church or at school. Many children may have visits with their parents or relatives. If family members fail to visit or call, it continues to affect children’s ability and interest in bridging or building relationships.
We are in a season of change at the children’s home. Internally, we are working on new skills and processes, and responding to ongoing changes which occurs working with other agencies and in the community. During such times, changes can be stressful and cause us a grey hair or two. But, when we put all of this aside and examine the amazing ministry the Lord has placed before us; it is overwhelming and exciting at the same time. In part, I have been looking forward to the month of October, because several of our children will be transitioning to new beginnings in their lives with adoptive families. The other part of me is grieving the loss of children. As caregivers, we find peace and joy, when reflecting on the changes occurring in the lives of children entrusted to us, for even a brief time.
Alex, a six year old, came to Miracle Hill during the latter part of last year. He was quiet, sneaky, and never showed emotion. He never laughed or cried. He looked at us with a blank stare and would not answer or acknowledge when others were speaking to him. He would hit other children, and steal their toys. When talking with him about his behavior, the blank stare was his only response. After several months, he would say a sentence or two a day. Some children ask staff to pray with them at night, but Alex never would. Staff asked him if he wanted them to pray with him. He would shake his head “yes”. Alex began, slowly, talking and building relationships with those with whom he lived. He began to make new friends and improved his grades in school. One day, I heard the most beautiful sound; it was Alex laughing for the first time. He was standing on his knees at the dining room table when he said excitedly, “Ms. Tonya, did you know that God is always with you and He will protect you wherever you are”. I was so amazed and thankful that these words and beautiful smile were beaming from his face.
One night, Alex shyly said, I love you Ms. Tonya”. I heard his voice, but was shocked, so I asked my coworker if he indeed said those words? Those three words, he had not said to anyone… He smiled at me, waiting to see my response. I was so excited, I gave him the biggest hug, and kiss on the cheek. Most recently, Alex’s sense of humor is coming to full life. Someone gave us a gift of super hero costumes. The costume he chose, gave him huge muscles and a big chest. His shyness quickly went away as he felt empowered and tried some superhero moves. It was a fun day! Alex life history is a difficult one involving neglect, drug exposure and other dangers. He has grown so much over the past year. He now laughs, plays and can sometimes be the class clown.
These changes have been rewarding for Alex and for us to reflect on the miraculous changes the Lord has made with this sweet boy. Alex’s season of change is not over yet, because he and his sibling met their “forever family” and they will be transitioning to another new home. Everyone is excited for this change. They need a family where feeling loved and safe is lasting. Just as the fall leaves change, more change will come, and other children will begin new stages of their lives through the blessing of adoption. Pray with us as our season of change will continue. We will say goodbye to children who have impacted our lives in more ways than we expected. But, like the Spring, hope comes for other children as the Lord gives us new opportunities to show his love to those who need a hug, need to feel safe, and need to know Him.
**Due to privacy and laws concerning confidentiality, the name of child involved in this story has been changed.