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Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton
It’s All Temporary
Lisa was clearly in her element. The chubby toddler, sippy cup in hand, alternately charmed bystanders with her hundred-watt smile and made them back off with her forceful cough. “We come here every two weeks,” Lisa’s foster mom told me. “Ever since I got her, when she was only five days old. It’s amazing, really – her sunny disposition, I mean – considering what happens every time we come here.” Just then the nurse called Lisa’s name, and the two disappeared into the examination rooms at the back. Seconds later, a heartbreaking howl shattered the quiet waiting room atmosphere. Once again, Lisa had been given a blood draw.
“I don’t understand it,” Lisa’s foster mom said to me. “I keep saying, ‘Can’t you test her for allergies, find out what’s behind the coughing?’ But they can’t – or won’t, since her condition isn’t actually life threatening.”
And so her foster mom keeps giving Lisa breathing treatments, and keeps bringing her back to be sure her oxygen levels stay in normal limits. They hope she’ll outgrow the cough. That’s Medicaid. With hundreds of thousands of children being treated with taxpayer dollars, it’s the best-case scenario anyone can hope for.
As Lisa’s foster mom returns to the waiting room, the little girl’s tear-streaked face is a pitiable sight … but then, it lasts only a moment. Seconds later, the sun comes out once more, and the smiles return.
Remembering those weekly doctor’s visits when we first got Sarah for her asthma, I patted her mother’s shoulder. “Just remember: This, too, shall pass.” The asthma attacks and breathing treatments, birth family visits, court dates, social workers – these are the harsh realities of foster-adoption. That’s the bad news; the good news is that these conditions are usually temporary. One year, two years, maybe three.
Sometimes it helps to look at it another way: Those three years are a priceless investment in that little life … the time is never wasted. Even if something goes woefully, dreadfully wrong and an adoption is never finalized (it happens), the person with the courage to make that kind of investment finds herself an unexpected beneficiary of some heavenly perks as well: God uses the time to renovate your heart from the inside.
Those endless social worker and birthparent visits have given you an uncommon measure of patience. Having to fight government agencies and wait in line at public assistance offices to get your children’s needs met has instilled in you unprecedented levels of humility. And the first time that child flings his arms around your neck, plants a wet kiss (please, God, let it be only spit) on your cheek, and squeals “I love you, Mommy,” the sleepless nights and daytime nightmares suddenly fade away.
All things considered, it’s not such a bad trade.
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