I work for a private fostering agency providing care for special/high needs children. Usually by the time kids enter our agency they’re older and quite damaged. My greatest frustration is that most of their “special needs” are preventable conditions. A great number have diminished mental capacity from being exposed to alcohol while in the womb. This is usually coupled with extreme neglect, trauma, abuse in their early years. Add to that moving around in and out of a broken Children’s Aid system and the end result is anything but pretty.
In five years, I’ve gotten used to a lot of things but the term “acquired brain injury” still makes me cringe. (Meaning someone did something serious enough to cause a permanent brain injury.) Often the kids themselves are cognitive enough to resent the state they’re in. Mostly they try to hold it together, navigating a world beyond their understanding. As a caregiver there are times the limitations trip me up and I fall short. Like the other day when Sabrina* was putting the canopy on our gazebo. She had it all turned around – the long end of the canopy going along the short end of the frame. My clear, simple explanation of the problem when she asked for help left her completely confused. At a loss, I walked away. Twenty minutes later Sabrina joyously informed me that she figured out the problem – the canopy was on the wrong way. “I told you that,” was my response after congratulating her. “Well, I didn’t know what you were talking about.” This is the daily grind we’re accustomed to.
Last weekend my friend’s 13yr old foster child was with me. Since the last time Natalie* visited – about three weeks ago – she’s fallen in love with India. A streetwise little spitfire her passions have been dominated, thus far, by pop stars. In the three years I’ve known her, Natalie has never expressed such sincere affection for anything or anyone. Eating dinner in a Greek restaurant, she wishes to hear some Indian music. At home I put on an animated film from India that comes up in my search of Netflix. Watching her watch it my heart breaks. I’m mourning who she could have been. Without the limitations inflicted upon her by alcohol and abuse who could she have been? If things were different, would India have played a key role in Natalie’s life?
I know God is able to bring redemption to any situation. I’m still believing for these kids to be healed mentally, physically, and emotionally. In the meantime I’m grieving the loss of what God really planned for them. This pain and frustration certainly wasn’t His intention. Most of the time my thoughts fail to extend beyond, “How can I get through this day without anyone breaking down?” I don’t think about what God really wanted when He created these kids. Today I’m painfully aware of the deposit of divine design. How do I help my kids bypass their limitations in order to unearth what God’s deposited? How can I connect Natalie to India so she can catch even a portion of God’s plan for her?