I am not a fan of clichés. I cringe at fluff and stuff and I do not speak “Christianese”. The pain of the world is real. You can sugarcoat it, gift wrap it, ignore it, or put a pretty bow on it to make it any less agonizing or challenging to reconcile. So, when I hear God referenced “Father” or “daddy” or as anything intimate that implies protection, comfort, or longevity, I try not to let my face show my disdain for something so unrelatable. Yesterday, for the first time of my life, I referenced God as my “Father” and although my hands shook as I typed, and it was genuine.
My husband and I are committed to an organization called “Safe Families for Children”. This story isn’t about how amazing of a nonprofit it is, however I highly recommend for you to check them out yourself. The gist of it is helping families (mostly single mothers), who live in poverty and/or often do not have the community needed to love, nurture, care for and provide the basic needs of their children. Many families volunteer their homes, time, and resources to help keep these children out of foster care and allow the parents to better the often overwhelming challenges that come their way. This is how we met our sweet Maya and her precious family.
Last fall, we got a phone call from our chapter director letting us know of a special situation. A struggling mother, who previously lost custody of her 2 year old daughter, had given birth again. The mother was young and at the time, was in a situation that if she chose, she would be able to do the minimal grunt work needed from the state to keep this sweet newborn. However, she was not able to take the baby home until the work was completed, which would take about 2 months. The case worker called the chapter director asking a way to brainstorm how to keep the baby from going into foster care. They put their heads together and pitched an idea to both the mom and grandmother that if they found a family through Safe Families to be “kinship family”, they could keep the baby as “family” through the State instead of going to a foster family. This was a lot for both the birth mother and grandmother to wrap their heads around. But they were running out of options when my husband and I got a phone call. Within a week, we met sweet Maya, the birth family, did our walkthrough, signed the necessary paperwork and took this sweet baby home.
What followed were two months of fatigue, moments of frustration and heartache, yet for the first time, I saw PINK, and frills, and lace, and bows! My sons were big brothers to her and my husband napped with her. We loved her. And just like that, she was gone. And we wept.
The following months my husband and I poured our hearts and home into other areas in our community. I also went through some of the darkest moments of my adult life. I experienced pain that I have yet to reconcile which brought me to my knees, considering options that should never be on the table. Arguably, had I been hosting Maya, I would have not have been as successful at these other initiatives or to heal. So once again, the timing seems somewhat perfect from a Creator that has a larger plan.
Sometime in mid-June, I received a very unexpected phone call letting me know that Maya was officially in foster care. They were looking to place her in a more permanent home with giving the option to the birth mother to make changes within a certain time frame, once again, yet this time, the stakes are higher as it would not be as an easy process. When I hung up the phone, my first thought was, “but wait God, I want a truck and my toys… I want my FREEDOM!” Yet, unlike other situations of long-term care that have come our way that never came to fruition, a peace came over me.
I am thankful we had 5 weeks to process as it was a PROCESS for not just me, but my precious husband, my protector, my provider, to wrap his mind around a baby. Diapers, bottles, constant care. Not to mention pressure from others to pursue the comfort of the American Dream! What about retirement, vacations, overhauling our house, big fun toys, and worldly comfort?! We don’t WANT to give up our freedom, or money, or time. Yet, God kept nudging that we had to throw our hat in the ring for the Kingdom. To take another step in the process, and another, and another. And every time we did, a door would swing wide open, and with our hearts on our sleeve, we would walk through.
Waiting on bated breath for a decision from the magistrate, we finally heard yesterday that we were granted kinship custody of Maya. When I hung up the phone, both Brian and I cried, but they weren’t tears of celebration. It was tears of submission, of absorbing the pain of the world, fear of change, a new normal, tears of “God, we are not spring chickens anymore, can.we.do.this?!” And they were not just tears for us, but for our sons, who will once again firsthand absorb the decisions of others, tangibly understanding what it is to love like Jesus. And the butterfly effect will spread to my beloved community, who are my life, my loves, my deepest friendships, knowing I will have to ask more of my leaders in order for it to continue to thrive and change lives.
It seems that every time I have brought up our situation to foster families, they are amazed at our situation at how it all came about and how FAST everything happened. On Tuesday evening, a sweet little girl will be dropped off at our doorstep by way of a caseworker with a garbage bag of a few toys. And sweet Maya, who will be so scared, not knowing us, having nothing safe, will know a new loud reality of three rowdy brothers and meeting her equally nervous new “parents.”
Earlier I mentioned that I never reference God as my “Father”. In my experience, fathers are painful, they are addicts, they are condescending, they are selfish, they are sexual predators, they leave. Men are most often times very untrustworthy. But the God of the Bible I know is NOTHING like this, so the idea of calling Him “Daddy” seems like an insult. I get that Jesus called God the “Father”, however I’m not Jesus, and the men in my life didn’t look anything like God.
Incidentally, the Bible also says that God, “adopted us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”Just like we are ALL adopted into the Kingdom if we so choose, my husband, who is the best representation of Christ I will ever know on this planet, is choosing through his own pain, frustration, and fears, to “adopt” Maya into our family. She will reach her little pudgy arms out to him as her protector to call him “Abba”, Daddy. And as I know my husband will reach down and pick her up and chose to love her, I saw God as my Father for the first time, doing the same for me. It made sense and it was safe. It didn’t hurt and it wasn’t disingenuous.
We don’t know what is in our future with sweet Maya, and although we will grow to love her as our own, I equally pray for the pain in her birth mother’s life. I pray that she finds freedom, joy and is healed, just like her daughter is healing us.
I will end this article by saying something to my little girl that I will meet again in a few short days:
“Maya, may my ceiling be you floor, that is a trampoline, that will give you great opportunity, safety, may we speak to you your identity, and bounce you higher, through generational strongholds, that you may become a world changer that exceeds any of our expectations.”
by Erin & Brian Cox, loving Host Parents
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