February 2, 2017

Hooked by Love

Raising someone else’s children is a ministry.

Robert Clark

My husband and I are foster parents. So far we’ve had 38 foster children in our home. We see it as God’s calling in our lives.

The ministry of foster care is both the best and the most difficult thing we have ever done. It’s hard when you get attached to a sweet, vulnerable child, then have to let that child go back to the same horrific situation he or she just came from.

Sometimes it’s for the best; with rehab and counseling services, parents are given a chance to start over on a different path. In the end, though, life is made up of countless small choices. The choices parents make regarding their children can follow the children for a lifetime.

The question is: Do I live for myself only, or do I live for my kids? I have thought about this many times, but I have to let the legal system do its job, whether I agree with it or not.

A Special Mission

One morning I woke up with a special mission on my mind and in my heart. After getting ready, I drove to the Department of Human Resources (DHR), pulled into the parking lot, and said a prayer: “Dear Lord, give me the courage to do Your work, the wisdom to know what to do, and the grace to accept Your will.” I walked into the DHR office with the calm assurance that God would guide me through this journey.

I stepped up to the front desk and told the woman that my husband and I had recently moved to the area and were looking for a child to foster. The woman asked me to wait just a moment and went into the office of one of the social workers. After what seemed like an eternity, she came out and said that they had never before had anyone just walk in and ask for a child to foster. She added that they usually have to almost beg foster parents to take in a child. She said they would check right away and contact me.

Answer to Prayer

A couple weeks later I received a call from the woman at DHR. There were two foster opportunities available. The first was healthy twin boys; the other was a 5-week-old baby boy with spina bifida. I told her that I would talk to my husband and pray about it. We decided to sleep on it. It was a long night for me, because my mind was already made up. Thank goodness my husband is an early riser!

After prayer and careful consideration, we felt led to foster the boy with spina bifida. So I called the DHR office and told them our decision.

I was nervous, anxious, and excited! Three days had passed since I had called DHR. I heard a car pull into the driveway. When the social worker got out of the car, he was carrying a makeshift bassinet made from a soap detergent box. He walked in and put the bassinet on the kitchen table. I stepped over to the bassinet with nervous excitement. When I looked in, I saw the infant lying on his stomach. He looked at me with the most adorable toothless smile—and I was hooked.

My husband was still at work. I hoped and prayed that he hadn’t changed his mind about taking in a special needs baby. I heard him pull into the driveway. He came into the house, and I couldn’t say a word. I just pointed to the bassinet. He walked over, our baby boy laid his charm on my husband—and he was hooked too.

The author, Robert Clark, is the foster child in this story. He lived with his foster parents until adulthood. He legally changed his last name to Clark in 2004, because he said he “was a Clark in [his] heart and wanted to make it official.”—Editors.

Robert Clark is now married to the woman of his dreams, and the couple has a beautiful adopted daughter.