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Navigating the Uncomfortable Waiting Periods in Foster Care

By April 26, 2021Blog

I feel uncomfortable waiting. Do you agree?

Waiting reminds me that I am not in control; I am relying on someone else to make the next move. If you have any experience with foster care, you know that waiting is guaranteed – waiting for your first placement, a court date, visits and appointments, you name it. Now more than ever, you are probably experiencing the effects of delays and postponements as we ride the uncertainties of a global pandemic. The foster care system has always required lots of patience, and it has felt like the pandemic has only exacerbated that.

I know that foster care is about caring for children and coming alongside their family. Yet, in days of anxious waiting, I have noticed that I begin to feel as if I am the victim. I have attended court month after month just for it to be postponed again with little explanation. Over a year later and it feels like there is no progress. Every day of waiting is another day of feeling uncertain, nervous, and out of control. Everything in me is sending panic signals to my brain! I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I want to know what the future holds. I want permanency!

It’s easy to feel like the delays are personal, like I’m the one being harmed when things get drawn out. Sure, I’m affected, but that’s not entirely true… The inconvenience of me having to return to the courtroom again next month or lack of answers pale in comparison to the uncertainty that the child in my care, along with his parents, are facing. While that doesn’t make the experience simple, it does help to put things into perspective.

But through this process I have learned, despite my own resistance, a new type of patience. This does not happen overnight. At times, I feel that I am making progress, experiencing a new sense of relying on the Lord or an odd awareness of peace that surpasses all understanding. Other times, it’s not so easy. But just when I feel that panic start to creep its way back in, I am able to remember that in the midst of my waiting, the God of the universe holds the timeline in His hands (Psalm 31:15) even when it does not make sense to me.

You see, waiting is biblical. The Apostle Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). And, I am not alone in my waiting. Not only are there many brothers and sisters around me who are experiencing similar situations, but God himself knows what it means to wait. Jesus was familiar with waiting. He waited thirty years to begin His ministry on earth! And so many others in the Bible experienced long periods of waiting on God: Abraham, Sarah, Job, Joseph, just to name a few. It is encouraging to know that the God of the universe can sympathize with us in our waiting.

In fact, our God is with us during our seasons of waiting.

This doesn’t mean the journey is always beautiful. And it doesn’t mean the outcome is always what we want it to be. But when it feels scary, or overwhelming, or just plain frustrating, I hope the truth of His presence spurs you on for one more day.

When it feels as though you have no more patience left, the Lord is so faithful to provide just what you need for another day. And that is all we can do. Take one day at a time. Whatever you’re walking through, I pray you experience God’s presence and purpose in a powerful way during this season of waiting.

You are not alone.

Sarah Wilson

Growing up with foster siblings, Sarah was exposed in small doses to the realities of foster care. As an adult, Sarah and her husband Jonah felt a desire to be foster parents and had their eyes opened to the world of child welfare. She is passionate about caring for families in need and bringing awareness to her church and community. Sarah enjoys exploring new places, trying new restaurants, volunteering at church, and spending time with family and friends.

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