I was loading produce onto the conveyer belt when the checker asked, "How is your day going?"
"Good. Finished a Wal-Mart trip and other errands. This is our last stop and we're all in one piece."
Everett, who was eye level to the conveyer belt, looked up at the checker and informed her, "We had to get stuff to make our house safe 'cuz we're going to adopt more kids. Only we aren't keeping these ones. We're sending them back to their moms."
I barely held back my laughter as I explained, "I'm updating my foster care license. We have no plans for adding more kids. We're just available for emergencies or to help other foster parents...."
I trailed off realizing that maybe Everett's over-sharing with strangers habit may have been acquired from me.
This spring I took a class for six hours every Friday for six weeks to update my foster license. It crossed my mind to let the license expire. Our adoption is complete, we have no plans to add to our family, and I am very much enjoying (for the first time in eight years) being a diaper free family. When Sean is gone for a few consecutive nights or planning his next adventure, when I look at our lifestyle and full time ministry demands, when I think about the roller coaster the last few years have been, when I'm scrubbing crayon off the wall or listening to four little competing voices escalate in the car I can very clearly tell you, "I love my four kids. I am great with four kids. There's still a chance I'll need to be locked in a padded room with my current life so I'm certainly not going to increase those chances by adding to it."
Yet, there are some things I believe God hard wires into you. My sister is a cosmetologist and if she goes too long without cutting hair, her hand aches and she starts doing a funny cutting motion as though her hand is expertly working her scissors. She's compelled to it regardless of surrounding circumstances. She can't turn it off. She has to sit in the front row at church so she won't be distracted memorizing haircuts and examining color of all the people in front of her.
Darla is only eight and any kind of drawing or art has the same pull for her. I was chaperoning her field trip to the Marine Life Center on Tuesday and was watching her study purple sea stars and shrimp with comically large eyes. Her tongue stuck out, resting on her upper lip, indicating concentration.
"Are you memorizing them to draw them?"
"Yes. Mom, please can you take a picture of each animal so I can draw them when I get home?"
It's the lens through which she sees life... dimension, shadows, colors.
I can't make it through a foster class without tears (even the state run ones in sterile classrooms and with poor visual aids. Seriously.) I can't describe why exactly. I'm not a baby hoarder. I certainly don't have a savior complex or delusional ideas of fixing people. I don't even need a hobby. Yet, I'm compelled. When I was in college doing teacher internships I found myself preferring to work with kids who had been in hard situations, who struggled, who had lost parents. I find myself watching videos on brain development and helping children heal from trauma for fun.
This is why even when my realistic self would rather pick up a hobby that makes a lot of money or fits nicely into my life, I'm updating my foster license while having no idea how God might use my passions this time around. For now, I'm pulling together adoption stories within my extended family and writing about them. (Might as well combine the passions I can't shake.)
I may also start a list of passions I'd choose if I could... like creating financial spreadsheets, gourmet cooking, playing piano. But before I try convincing myself to love financial spreadsheets I still have to convince myself I love running. One converted passion at a time.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...