Things That Stick

Asa is rotten.

I've been known to utter these words to friends and family from time to time. It's because it's true. He is so very rotten, but in the best way.

There are several things that contribute to his rottenness.
  1. We are a doting family. We're touchy-feely, mushy, and are a bunch of feelers. We kiss and hug a lot. We say, "I love you," with great ease. We fuss over and make a big deal out of things that may or may not be big. We're animated and loud. It's just who we are. (Side Note: This describes us on our best days. Trust me, we can and are the total opposite more than we would like to be. Remember, we are a bunch of feelers so we feel EVERYTHING deeply.)
  2. Asa is the true baby of the family. His siblings are much older and a lot of times it feels like he has four parents. His brother and sister are quick to rescue him when things don't go his way. It's amazing, but also challenging.
  3. We parent him differently because of the circumstances that brought him into our family. He is a different kid with different needs, and we have responded to them accordingly.
Asa came to live with us when he was four days old. We brought him home from the hospital. For all intents and purposes, we are all he has ever known. It is tempting to view him as a child who has never lived in trauma or been witness to horrible things. However, there are still nine months in the womb and four days with his biological mother that we weren't there for. A time in his life when we have no idea what he was exposed to or felt. 

Trauma research tells us that children can experience three significant traumas in their life before they leave the hospital: a hard pregnancy, a difficult delivery, and time in the NICU. These traumas impact their brains and it takes years for the brain to heal; if those traumas aren't addressed, then they can lead to worse things down the road. This healing comes in a lot of forms, but mostly at this early age it comes through developing healthy attachments and relationships with people.They need to feel safe. 

I could keep going because this stuff just fascinates me, but what does that have to do with Asa? Well, we know that the actual pregnancy was very difficult. His mother was in and out of the hospital with bleeding. She was in a volatile relationship with his biological father. There may or may not have been substance abuse. We just don't know. Looking at what medical records we have, we do know that it is nothing short of a miracle that he was carried to full term and overall very healthy.

He was healthy but he experienced trauma. He was a rigid baby. It took months to get him to settle into us as we rocked him. He hated baths and still isn't the biggest fan. He has sensory issues. Some of these things can be linked to trauma.

We took a baby into our home at four days old who had experienced these things. So, we did the only thing we knew to do, we spoiled him rotten. We held him a lot. We rocked him until he fell asleep. We didn't do the whole cry it out thing with him, but let's be honest - we didn't really do that with any of our kids. Remember, we are feelers. Shannon and I just aren't strong enough for that. 

He was loved by family, friends, and church members. This child had a rotation of six women who watched him in shifts for the first six weeks of his life so he wouldn't have to go to daycare. He was loved fiercely and still is!

We weren't sure how long he would live with us. At first, it looked like it would only be a few months. With this in mind, I resolved to do two things and I committed to them like they were my paid job.

  • He would experience a love that was deep and pure that he wouldn't be able to deny.
  • He would be told over and over how much Jesus loved him.

I've explained how we went about the first, but here's how I approached the latter.

I committed to singing Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and the Benediction from the Auburn Wesley Foundation (a beautiful singing of Jude 1:24-25) over him each time I put him to bed. He would hear of the love of Jesus consistently and my prayer was that it would stick and forever be part of his story.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to personalize it for him and made up my own version of Jesus Loves the Little Children.

Jesus loves my little Asa
Oh yes, yes, oh yes He does.
He's a really special boy,
And he brings us lots of joy.
Jesus love my little Asa,
Yes He does.

I've sung it over him and with him for three and a half years now and I've wondered if it stuck. If he got that I was singing a song just for him.

Then, tonight happened.

When I asked him what songs he wanted to sing, he said Jesus Loves the Little Children. I started singing and he exclaimed, "No, the Asa song!"

The Asa Song. Wow! I melted into a puddle and gave thanks that the message of Jesus' love for him specifically had stuck.

I will forever testify to the importance of foster care. I won't lay out all of the many reasons to do it in this post, but one of the greatest testimonies in my life is how foster care has made my life more intentional. Perhaps that's what desperation, the unknown, and total dependence and trust in God do in our lives. 

It makes us more intentional and deliberate with our choices. 

It makes us love fiercely even when there is risk.

It makes us completely okay with rotten kids.