The Christmas story. Baby Jesus, in the manger, surrounded by his loving parents Mary and Joseph, some Wise Men, and some sheep, donkeys, angels watching over them all. Traditional Christmas story, we all know it. But for two men I know the Christmas story this year may be about fostering a child who needs them. A different take on the usual tale, but poignant all the same.
We've all heard about the horrors of fostercare. It's on the news. In the newspaper (even if you are reading it online). Horrors make headlines. Sad but true. But what so infrequently make the news is the joy of a couple when they first get a child through the foster care system. Whether it's foster to adopt or a short term emergency placement, each foster parent opens their heart and their homes to a new family member, even if it's only for short period of time.
Friends of ours are at the edge of foster care now. They're waiting for their first child. You might say they're 'a little bit foster pregnant.' (Although that might be a little tough because they're a gay couple.) Two men. One who teaches school, one who works in the disabled. A caring duo excited by the prospect after years of waiting...are on the cusp of getting their first child. The first possibility fell through. But there's another one coming up. The excitement is palpable. They have a car seat in their car at all times, just in case they get an infant/toddler without notice. Space set up in their home for a nursery that can easily be converted into a bedroom for an older child at a moment's notice. Their hearts and minds and home are ready to become foster parents. Not your typical 'horror story' in fact, not a horror story at all, but a story of the heart and love.
So the next time you hear a horror story about the foster care system, think of this loving couple, and others like them who are signed up to be foster parents, all in a similar situation. Waiting to help, to love, to care for a child who needs them. Certainly not a horror story. And just a little bit different than your typical Christmas story of a babe in a manger--but... a story of the heart just the same.