By Irene Kim, Safe Families for Children Host Family
Late last month, my husband and I were told by Safe Families workers that they would be holding a “Family Meeting” where everyone involved in our case would come together. Everyone? Well this particular case involved a family of four children, their parents, three different host homes which included us, family coaches as well as other Safe Families workers, and a pair of social workers.
Although it is not the norm for the Department of Social Services to be involved with Safe Families, this was a special situation where DSS had come to Safe Families as a final effort to keep this family together after years of going in circles. The social workers weren’t sure what to expect of this foreign concept of volunteers coming together to help a family in need for nothing in return, but because we were all willing, they were willing to give it a shot as well.
The prognosis they gave us regarding the family, however, was that most likely this would not work. They said we could try, but it was more than likely that things wouldn’t work out for this family—these kids were headed straight for foster care. Therefore, it took a great step of faith from them as well as the rest of us to give this a try.
Well it was a rainy Thursday morning when the day of the meeting came, and the steady drizzle made it a slow and peaceful ride. As I drove, I prayed and wondered what would come of this gathering. Mostly, I hoped we would really get down to business and make a solid plan for these kids to either go back with their parents or to move on in the best direction. The kids had all waited long enough and things were pretty unclear up until this point on what the outcomes of this placement would be. I could use some clarity myself.
“Business,” however, is the last word I would use to describe this meeting. Once I walked into the Safe Families building, I wiped away the raindrops that had dampened my face and was led by the friendly receptionist to a room where I heard light chatter and laughing. I was then immediately greeted with a warm hug from the biological parents, the social workers, my Family Coach, as well as her overseer. I knew I had come to really like all these people whom I had been working with over the last few months, but I never realized how much of a close relationship had sprung up in the process. I realized, I really do love and respect each of these people, and we were all in this together. They had it just right, too, for calling this gathering a Family Meeting—it felt just like family.
Indeed, it was like a big extended family had traveled from near and far through the cold rain, and we were now all gathered by a warm fireside to share with one another the great journey we had all been on. Although each of us individually had experienced our unique share of struggles through the rain, coming together brought a renewed sense of strength as we acknowledged and affirmed our common goals of keeping this family together. And all the while, the fire of God’s love burned so bright and evidently around us that we were constantly reminded that it was and has always been He who had upheld each of us to bring us to this point.
The love was so rich in that room, and one by one, each of us spoke life. We spoke about all the precious victories, both big and small, of this difficult case that was thought to be at a loss. Each host home shared story after story of all the ways that every one of these kids not only survived but grew, matured, learned, and soared in these last few months despite all that was stacked up against them. We all agreed that these kids were amazing and each of us were honored and better people to have had them in our lives.
As we shared, the biological parents each grabbed tissues and listened with amazement and disbelief at all the good that was coming to their children and their family from something that was so broken and bleak. They also shared that they had gone to court a few days prior to the meeting, and the judge had very unexpectedly made the decision to give custody back. It was a miracle of all miracles as the odds for such a verdict was close to none. But just like what one of the host homes said, what was meant for evil, God had taken and made it for good, and in Christ, all things are possible.
From there, everyone began to chime in to encourage this beautiful mom and dad. We spoke scripture over them, we declared truth, and we simply loved and encouraged them. Together under Christ, we became one in mind and heart as we truly sought to build this family up and see them through the storm.
When everything was said and done, the social worker who had been silent the entire meeting finally spoke up and said she had never seen something like this before. She said she had her fair share of doubts, and while navigating through an entirely new system was not easy, she was amazed and overwhelmed at the outcome of not only being able to see the family stay together but being able to witness such genuine love from so many different people working together.
I could not agree more. The love was real, and we were all struck with thanksgiving for God and all the people He brought together to make this meeting, this case, this journey a beautiful success. The step of faith we had all taken in the beginning was not done in vain, but rather in faith of the one common factor, Jesus Christ, who received all the glory as vastly different people from different backgrounds came together as family. We were in awe of God, our heavenly Father, and we left full of hope for each person, parent, and child in this family.
As it says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”