by Dana Lopez, CEO and Co-Founder of Dogwood Ranch
A couple of years ago a friend asked me to share a bit about our personal journey to fostering; what you will read below is raw and honest; and my prayer is that it will inspire all of us “every-day-people” to find our ONE.
My husband and I have had the privilege of fostering almost 40 teen girls over the past 13 years. Ironically enough, foster parenting was not something I grew up dreaming of doing. In fact, it only came as a result of a really tough personal season of growth, where I learned that sometimes God has a different plan than the one you always imagined for yourself.
Through a season of unplanned detours, both career-wise and heart-wise, my husband and I ended up putting down roots in Missouri in the summer of ‘07. We moved with a specific passion and goal in mind: to foster teenagers. And not just any teenagers, but those with severe emotional challenges suffering from the effects of unspeakable trauma. In short, God has opened up doors for us to parent those who are facing their last chance to have family. When children experience abuse and neglect at the hands of those who are tasked with protecting and providing for them, it wreaks havoc on their mind and emotions. Couple that with the often-traumatic experience of being brought into foster care and shuffled from home to home, our young people learn quickly they cannot trust a single soul except for themselves. Many of the teens who come to us have not really been parented at all. No curfews. No respect. No good night kisses. No boundaries. No peace. No soccer games. No safety. Just Fight Flight and Freeze in FULL operation. Cue the challenging behavior.
This can all get very overwhelming, to say the least. My husband and I often feel inadequate, worn out and ill prepared to handle the tremendous brokenness that meets us at our door every time a new young person moves in. Until I remember the ONE. Those of you familiar may recall the story about the 99 and the ONE in the Bible. The Shephard chooses to leave the flock of 99 to find the ONE who is in need (lost, injured, isolated, alone, vulnerable). The fact that Jesus would leave the 99, to find the ONE, speaks volumes to me on a daily basis about what we do in our home and what so many others do in theirs.
We all have our ONE. Whether it is through foster care, adoption or supporting those who do – we all have a responsibility to the ONE. Through the ONE we change destinies and generations. Through the ONE we help break off generational hardships and help ensure those coming behind us find their communities and families healthier and more whole than the way we found them. The ONE is worth our time, our investment, our volunteer hours, our emotional capital, and our steadfastness.
Friends, it’s time. Go find your ONE.