Thu, Mar 19, 2015
Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the foster father of Jesus. My husband and I have been an unofficial foster parents to quite a few young people. I'd like to share how St. Joseph has inspired me in this role.
You are not the real parent. Get over it. I often think of St. Joseph finding Jesus in the temple. Jesus tells him, quite matter-of-factly, that of course He would be in His 'Father's' house. Ouch! That must have hurt. You act like a father, feel like a father, suffer and work for your kid like a father, and then you are reminded that the title belongs to someone else. As a foster-parent I have learned humility in that role. No matter how much a person struggles with their biological parents, those parents will still be the 'real' father or mother. It is a good lesson in loving without expectations.
You can spend years parenting someone else's child and be all but forgotten. St. Joseph didn't even get a feast day till around 1600 AD! He supported Christ, raised Him, loved Him and was barely even mentioned in Sacred Scripture. That is exactly how foster parenting can feel sometimes. Especially when those children become adults and really don't 'need' you anymore. You may be remembered in their thoughts, but don't wait by the mailbox on Mother's Day expecting a card that may or may not come. This isn't a bad thing, it means you have helped raise them to be independent. You did your job.
You can love someone you have no biological ties to just like you love your own flesh and blood. No explanation needed there.
Foster parenting is important, necessary and holy work. So many children need to find a place in a family. God recognized the importance of the family unit in which Christ would flourish. When we have an opportunity to provide that environment to a young person who does not have it, we should pray about opening our hearts to them. Just as dear St. Joseph did when the angel told him not to be afraid and to take Mary into his home and raise her son (conceived by the Holy Spirit).
I am grateful for every child who has stayed with us. They may have learned a little from us, but we grew and learned so much more from them. Thank you God for the opportunity and thank you St. Joseph for the example. Pray for us.
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