Luke 15:11-14 11. Then He said: A certain man had two sons. 12. And the younger of them said to his father, "Father give me the portion of goods that falls to me. So he divided to them his livelihood. 13. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together journeyed to a far country and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
I’ve blogged about our foster parenting and ultimate adoption of two children. Our two children were officially adopted in June, 2009. They had been with us three years so adoption was the natural thing to do. We had lived through some tough times getting adjusted to one another. Children that are taken from their parents obviously have emotional issues. Low self esteem is usually a given and our kids were no different. We dealt with some unfamiliar territory. We are not gifted with being “mercy givers”. We hold our children to pretty high standards and require them to follow rules. A child that has not had a full time parent for most of their life does not really like authority. We were told that it takes three times as long to change habits and thoughts as it does to create them. So…..fifteen years of a particular lifestyle may take 45 years to change. Hmmmm – yep thinkin it’s not going to happen unless the person chooses to make the change. We knew that God was in control and that we would stay the course. We had no desire to separate the children so we were willing to give it our best shot. We had some serious growing pains learning to live with one another, but nothing we didn’t feel we could overcome. After all, the children had to learn to live in our home just as we had to learn to live with them. We are far from perfect parents. Ashley and Spenser could certainly attest to that. But we love our children and do our very best to provide for them. We go the distance to protect them and defend them against the world. As I stated earlier, we do expect a lot of our children. We want them to be independent, successful and first and foremost spiritually solid. We have cried with our children over their short comings, their hurts, their sorrows. When a child of mine hurts, the pain I suffer is some of the worst kind.
We had our concerns about adopting a teen ager and a young child. We had countless conversations about looking for biological parents when the time was appropriate. We knew from experience that it would disrupt Owen’s life to deal with them. He had adjusted well and did not handle the past very well. He needs time to accept life as it has been dealt him prior to dealing with the biological mother. R agreed with us over and over that she would never do that to him so we trusted her. We trusted that she would not attempt to contact them. She was allowed to use the internet, to be a normal teen age girl. At one point they found her and she immediately told us. We knew then we could trust her. She was doing everything to make us believe that she was here for life. That she was adopting us has her family just as we were adopting her. Often we felt that we were paying the price for their parents crimes. But we pressed on.
Once a boyfriend entered the picture, our world turned inside out. We gave him the benefit of the doubt. We supported them until we felt that it went against everything we believed. We prayed for a clear answer and knew what it was. We still tried to allow it even though we were completely frustrated. This was however a deal breaker. Apparently there would be no compromise by either side on this situation. I will lay my life down for my children but I will never lay down my principal values. I will never go against my Heavenly Father for them. He is my Creator. He is their Creator. He made them and loaned them to me. I must honor Him in raising my children. I’ve often wondered how a parent can say that their children won’t do something they want them to do. My thoughts have always been “who’s the parent, who’s the child?” I have allowed things I was not comfortable with and lived to regret it. God lets me know quickly when my decision is not in line with His Will. No one ever said parenting would be a piece of cake. No one ever said the discipline in any form would be easy. Tough love is just that - tough. Raising children is tough. Raising teenagers is tougher.
In December, 2009, our daughter R packed a bag and had her boyfriend pick her up and move her out. This decision was told to me over the telephone, not in person. I immediately said that we won’t have a revolving door, and that she was going to cause hurt to her brother – she promptly told me she knew what she was doing and if it was a mistake she would live with it. She was willing to hurt him and us in order to have her happiness. She honestly felt this was the only possible solution. This was a very bitter pill to swallow. We tried to get there in time to stop them. We had family get there first and try to talk to them, but her mind was made up. Her boyfriend stated that no one could live under our rules. She left that day and has not returned. Once again, we were in unchartered territory.
Shortly after this event a guest speaker was at our church and spoke on the Prodigal Son. He gave me insight that I needed. I needed clarity from God’s word and it was given that Sunday morning. He pointed out that this story included such things as the Request, the Response, the Return and the Reception. He discussed the one's that stood by and were spectators. What I learned from scripture was that (Luke 15) the father did not go after the son. He allowed him to make his decisions and to lay in the bed he made. Even when that bed was a pig stye. The father allowed his son to use his free will just as God allows us to use our free will. The son’s decisions were based on greed. Our child left our home stating that she wanted nothing of value. But what was of value to her was her freedom. Freedom to make her own decisions and not live under authority. We (our family) did not approve of her decision. I personally asked her to wait and allow me to help her do this without destroying relationships. She was angry with me and ready to leave. We know God created her just as He created us. He loves her more than we could ever love her. We’ve asked others to pray for her since we may not pray for what’s best for all. We simply lay her at the cross and know that God is in control. We rest in His promises. We know that joy and resentment cannot co-exist. We have had very little contact and that contact is only via text messaging and not pleasantries.
I received a text message after that sermon asking me if the prodigal could come home. The message was to check my heart not a literal question of her wanting to return. “Can the prodigal come home?” The prodigal son did return home. He returned home in an attitude of humility. He was more than willing to return home and work as a servant. He came home with a much different attitude than he left with. The father was waiting for that return. He loved both of his sons equally and he loved them unconditionally. He loved the prodigal son even though he brought shame and humiliation to him. The other son could not understand his father’s attitude because he knew the hurt and humiliation. Just as we protect our children –they also protect us. They feel our pain and suffering. We are not at a "return" point. We don't see that in the forseable future.
I can’t answer the question yet. I’m not sure our child will return home. I can’t say there will be a reception. I don’t have answers. I have Jesus. I have a family to take care of. I have a young impressionable son who is angry and hurt. He is confused as to why his sister would leave him just as his mother left him. He understands and has dealt more than most people ever will. He believes her actions are all about her. What I do know is that God’s grace is greater than our circumstances. His grace is sufficient. I don't have regrets. I know that we fostered and adopted according to God's call. I know that all of our lives are better for having done that. We pray only success for her and her future.
Love you all.
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