We have a unique family, my husband and I.
Honestly, it’s hard to know where and how to begin, because our story alone could take up a thousand words, and that’s not the reason I’m writing today.
So let me start with this: our story is long, complicated, messy, and beautiful.
We have been married for a little over a year, have an adorable (I’m unashamedly biased …) baby girl named Scout, and a fost-adopted teenage son, who happens to be my biological brother (told you it was complicated). For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Buck.
Buck’s been in my custody for three years now, and, praise the Lord, God brought me a husband in the second year of this story, to help carry some of the weight of curfews, driving, sneaking out, sneaking in, and just about every drama teens can bring into your house at any given moment.
I’ll say it again: thank you, Jesus, for my husband.
We’ve endured a lot of “normal” teenage behaviors and choices (bad grades, parties, you name it) and a lot of “normal” foster behaviors that just are a ripple effect of trauma he’s faced. Because of the uniqueness of our situation, we’ve sought a lot of help and counsel. For the sake of repetition, I’ll say it again, our story is unique, complicated, messy, and beautiful.
I will never forget the day Buck came home from a scrimmage, started walking to his bedroom door, then turned around and came to mine. His breathing was heavy, his eyes were red and swollen, and he was cracking his knuckles … all symbols we’ve learned to recognize, through a lot of wise counsel, as he’s about to get vulnerable so stop and listen. Just listen.
My husband wasn’t home yet from work; Buck was driving his car to and from the scrimmage. The baby was sleeping, and just two weeks old. Buck looked at me and said, “I got in a car accident.”
Now, my mind registered that he wasn’t bleeding, so my back shot straight, my eyes widened, and my mouth opened to say what you could imagine: “You did what!!?! WE CAN’T AFFORD THAT!”
BUT—praise be to God, my heart caught hold of his face. Before my mouth could say anything, I caught sight of a little boy, scared to pieces to tell us he messed up because he never knew what to expect from our birth mom. This was a big uh-oh, and his eyes told me that he knew he had messed up.
So I stopped. I breathed. I let my heart call on God to lead, and I asked him if he was ok.
I asked him what happened. And he shared. Every detail, he shared.
This is a win in our books, guys. I threw my judgment to the curb, invited him to tell, and listened. I walked with him to the car and let him know he was going to have to tell Will (my husband). And affirmed, again, that I was so happy he was ok.
When Will got home, Buck ran to the bathroom to hide and cry. My husband hadn’t even known about the accident yet, so you could imagine his surprise at our varsity-football-playing, sixteen-year-old “brother-son” as we’ve termed him, running and hiding. Buck came down and Will asked what happened.
Will made no other comment than, “I’m really glad you’re ok.”
From there, we gained his trust that, no matter what, he has a home with us. No matter what, we’re committed to guiding and loving him. No matter what, we are unafraid of failures because we trust in a God who provides and conquers the world’s troubles.
Because of the trust, we were able to explain the natural consequences of the issue—the damage to both cars was so significant, it nearly tripled our insurance. Buck needed to make a choice to either pay his own portion or be taken off completely, losing the privilege of driving until he could afford his own car.
This was an opportunity for healing in our home. An often-complicated relationship was given a step toward connectedness and our gap toward restoration is getting smaller because of these instances. (He crashed my car just three months later … yup. That one took a few extra little breaths.)
We are given daily opportunities to show him his voice matters. No matter what he’s done, no matter what choices he’s made, we invite him to sit with us, share with us, and restore relationship with us. The times where his choices disappoint or directly impact us are the opportunities that have built our relationship up with him the most.
Just as the Lord grants us relationship with Him in the moments that ache His heart the most, we are given the opportunity to step into our Buck’s experience, and love him by walking through it alongside him—not rescuing, not dismissing, not rejecting, but rather enduring and creating a path for him that leads, ultimately, to healing.