This morning, likely for the last time, I prayed with a six-year-old boy who became my son… at least for a while. My mind is searching for terms and concepts at the moment to accurately convey the relationship and connection, but I am not sure exactly how to describe it. I am not his father; I only met him about a year ago. He is not my son; he sporadically called me “daddy,” and I never once gave him the benefit of the loving physical discipline I give to my other sons.
And yet, he is not just any boy… In a real sense, he is (or at least was) my son.
My wife and I have been foster parents (off and on) for a combined total of about three and a half years. One of our foster boys went back home to his biological mother today, and this is the cause of my introspective post.
In these first moments, after he has gone, I am celebrating the good things we both enjoyed. I enjoyed another playful personality at the dinner table and another eager-but-clumsy body to throw around on the living room floor. Boys are quite simple in their desires and expectations you know. A full belly and some rough-housing will go a very long way.
He enjoyed the imperfect and genuine love of a father. This took the form of quick-witted responses to his naive attempts to assert his dominance. It was expressed in many intervening interrogations when situations demanded them, questioning each boy to learn just how much truth was left untold. It was also demonstrated in regular Bible-reading, interesting stories of past Christians who lived and died for Christ, and gathering nightly for prayer as a family in one room or another.
Oh yes, as I now think of it. This boy is my son. Who else gets such investments from me? There is no other relationship like it… father and son.
We will miss him, and (in his own way) he will miss us too. And yet, we will also treasure him, as we have treasured him thus far. He was a welcome addition to our family while he was near, and he shall not lose his place in our hearts just because he is now far.
As I have prayed so many times before, may God grant him grace and draw him near. May he come to know, to understand, and to believe the Gospel of Christ. Only in a deeper understanding of the Gospel will my son ever know why I willingly became his father, and then let him go.