By Danielle Nunez (far left with her adopted family)
Honestly it wasn’t a surprise. I love the idea of Safe Families For Children. But, everyone, including me, could see it coming. What began as “meeting the need” of a single mom, ended with heartache. I did the unthinkable, I allowed myself to love her daughter as my own. What is so unthinkable about that?
The precious hours caring for this child, snuggling her, tucking her in at night? They left my heart broken when her mom stepped back into the picture. I heard many warnings from friends, “don’t get too attached!” And often I heard that as the excuse of why others wouldn’t get involved, “I could never be a foster parent, or host children with Safe Families because it would hurt too much when the child left.” But as is my usual way of doing things, I threw caution to the wind and I welcomed a child into my home. She lived with me for about 3 days a week for the first few months, then full time for 6 months.
Her precious little heart was starving for the love only a mother can give, and currently her mother was incapable of providing that love or making rational decisions for her. The more I cared for her, the more she felt like one of my own. My son referred to her as his sister, and my 3 year old daughter fought with her like they were jealous sisters, but ultimately she belonged to The Lord.
It has been difficult to watch her go, but I don’t regret a single moment of pouring into this child’s life. When we met her, she could barely speak and would sit by herself quietly for hours, but now she won’t stop talking and can barely sit still for 10 minutes! She breaks out into song when we are driving in the car and is barely a shadow of the girl we welcomed into our home. Her transformation has been so obvious that many have commented on it and I know she is forever changed… And all of us are changed too. We (my husband and 3 small children) have all grown in love, patience, thankfulness, and joy! We praise God for the grace he gave us while having her in our home. Although, we are not perfect by any means, our home was a safe place for her to grow and to be loved. Safe Families for children is our way of showing our gratefulness for what God has done for us.
Falling in love can be a scary thing, but that fear will never stop us from loving those God puts in our path. If you have contemplated hosting children with Safe Families (www.safe-families.org), let me encourage you that love will conquer fear. Don’t be afraid to love others the way Christ has loved you, especially when it comes to children. The reward for loving far outweighs the pain of letting go. In the end, you will have left a footprint in the shape of a cross on the heart of one of God’s precious little children.