The danger of comparing my son to baby Jesus is not lost on me, but celebrating his birthday this week has me curious in new ways. I wonder if Mary was scared? Did she trust Joseph yet? Was she overwhelmed with the whole “giving birth in a barn” situation, or did nothing surprise her at this point? Was anyone else helping them, or were they truly left to the animals?
Three years ago in Dallas, our son was born into a less than ideal situation while we were snow skiing in Colorado. I know very little about the first three weeks of his life and can’t help wondering about his birth story.
Our journey to becoming a family of five began in 2010 when we were traveling home from vacation. It was dawn, and our two children were asleep in the back seat while my husband and I enjoyed the scenic drive. He broke the silence by saying, “I think we need to be doing more as a family.” As vague as that statement was, I knew exactly what he meant. We were regular members at church, and we were saying all the right things to our children about what it means to be followers of Christ, but what my husband was bold enough to say is there was a disconnect between our words and our actions. What were we really doing to teach our children that love is active, not passive?
Soon after returning home, we heard a sermon about the Good Samaritan and were challenged to find ourselves in the story. I racked my brain for just one example of me slowing down to help, but in reality I was too busy to be bothered. In my mind, this perfectly-timed sermon was not a coincidence and within a couple of months we began our training to become a foster family.
As a foster family, we changed diapers, fed bottles and even bandaged wounds, but what we really learned went much deeper and hurt much more. Opening our home, nursing babies back to health and then saying goodbye to them is the hardest thing we have ever had to do as a family. While living in a society that teaches us to protect children from every hardship, we purposefully exposed ours to some of the harshest realities in life. I questioned my motives every single time, but we learned the beauty of letting our hearts break so someone else can be put back together.
After our first placement left, I was sure I could not do it again. A few months later, our children were asking when we would get our next baby. They were ready and leading me to do the next hard thing. Eight placements later, we took a break in order to focus on our family and do some things that were difficult to do with a baby. On Jan. 1, we put our family back on the active list, and on Jan. 12, we got a call for a 3-weeks-old baby boy. That night, we met our son.
Of course, we did not know he would eventually be our son, but what I do know is that so many little things had to fall perfectly in place for us to be holding him that night. I do know that even though his mother could not care for him, there was a family that loved him and tried to care for him his first three weeks. I do know that he was not an easy newborn, and someone was brave enough to admit they were in over their head. And, I do know that if it hadn’t been God’s timing for when we put our name back on the “open” list, our son would’ve been placed in another home. Our biggest lesson has been that God is in the details and can turn a less than ideal situation into an enormous blessing … just like he did in that barn in Bethlehem.
Written by Megan Wilson, a Buckner foster-to-adopt mother. To learn more about Buckner foster care, visit www.buckner.org/fostercare.