Remembering the “No’s”


August 3, 2014 by greenhouse04

There have been foster children whom I have decided not to take care of, the “no’s.” We’ve said “no” more often than we’ve said “yes.”

One of the first was a newborn baby boy whose mother had abandoned him in the hospital. She came back a few days later to plead with the judge for a second chance.

Then there was the very young brother and sister whose parents were somehow living in Africa (that one still confuses me), and the one-year-old boy whose mother was expecting another baby who would also need a foster home.

A couple of years later, after two “yes’s” and two adoptions, another “yes” and a disruption, I said no to a 3-month-old boy whose mother had mental disabilities. I was soon to leave on a two-week trip to China, and I didn’t feel right leaving Mr. with another child.

When I returned from China, I said no to two baby girls at the same time: a 6-month-old and a 3-week-old. The littlest had been in the hospital since birth without one visit from her parents. That was a difficult “no” to say, but I was going in for major surgery in a few weeks, so the timing was just not right.

Right before Baby M. we said no to a little boy who was older than Emma.

Then last Wednesday we said no to an almost 2-year-old girl. On Thursday we said no to a 2-day-old boy.

It’s not easy to hear about a child who needs you, to hear their heart-wrenching story of abuse or abandonment, and to decide not to give the child a home. I’ve never regretted saying “no” – you have to know your limitations if you don’t want to drown as a foster parent (and a drowned foster parent can’t help any child!) – but I’ve also never forgotten. Sometimes I wonder what has happened to those children: do they have a loving home? Are they with their birth parents, or have they been adopted? What would have happened if I’d said yes?

Then I look at my two amazing children and our foster son, and I wonder what would have happened if I had said no to them! Would they be with people who love them as their own? Would they be happy? Would I have adopted different children?

It’s crazy sometimes in foster care, because each child who comes into your family was initially a choice. You get a phone call, and you have to say yes or no. It would be so easy to drive yourself insane with the “what-if’s,” the “I-wonder’s,” and the “if-only’s.” But I believe that God directed each decision we’ve made.

I’ll never forget the children to whom I said no. But at the same time I won’t let questions about them swirl in my mind; I’ll always be so extremely grateful for the children to whom I said yes.


2 thoughts on “Remembering the “No’s”

  1. Shannon says:

    So true. I underestimated how hard it would be to say “no” in foster care. Every single story of every single little one weighs so heavily on my heart. But you are right. Saying “no” when the time or situation are not right also enables us to say “yes” when the time and situation are right.

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this! We are within a couple weeks of being licensed and this is one area that has really stressed me out. It is comforting to see other foster parents openly talk about saying “no”.

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