Everyday my girls and I climb out of our beds, eat breakfast, and begin our day. We laugh, we work, we eat, and sometimes we fuss. We do it all together.
And I forget that every single one of them started somewhere else.
But there are some who never forget. I spoke with one just the other day.
I was taken aback. It was unexpected. I didn't see it coming, but that didn't stop it.
I don't remember exactly what we were talking about, but I do remember this...
"I would never let my kids play with one of them."
She was referring to children in foster care.
My kids clean up well. They are friendly and (mostly) well-mannered. They have lovely smiles and are quick to help, but no matter what they do, they'll always have that foster care label. Adoption didn't take it away.
And they don't want it to.
Three days before Christmas, Hannah and I headed out to a local residential treatment center for teenage girls. We loaded up the van with boxes of candy, Bibles, snacks, drinks and supplies for a Christmas craft. We visited with 50 girls that day.
Girls with tough pasts, presents and futures.
Girls who speak of case managers and treatment plans and court dates as easily as most teenagers speak of movies and school and favorite books.
I took a backseat this time. This was Hannah's labor of love. I watched as she moved from table to table. I watched as she easily started conversations. I watched as these girls, so hardened from years in the system, laughed with her and listened to her and shared their stories with her.
Do you know what made all of that happen in one afternoon? It was because she was one of them.
I could have spoken. I could have told them that Jesus loves them and that He changes hearts and lives and that He knows them better than anyone else ever can or ever will.
I could have, but I didn't.
Hannah did. Not in words, but in a story. Her story.
My words did not carry the weight that Hannah's did. In that arena, her words will always matter more.
I'm so thankful.
Thankful for her heart to love those who are still stuck in the system. Thankful for how freely she shares her story. Thankful for her transparency and humility and love.
Thankful that she doesn't view being one of them as anything other than an avenue to serve.
She was adopted out of foster care. In this house it holds no shame, no stigma, no disgrace.
Foster care hasn't tainted my children. It hasn't made them less.
From where I stood in that room on December 22nd, all I could see was how it has made them more.