Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tough Goodbyes in the Felich House today

Absent from today's ride in to school was the usual boisterous back seat with my middle and youngest sons jockeying for the side they wanted most. None of the usual litany of questions from me as to whether they remembered their lunches, homework assignments, or musical instruments. Instead there was almost complete silence for the entire 12 minutes, save for intermittent sniffles from all of us.

Today, in less than an hour, Shari and I have to bring back the toddler we have been watching for over 2 months and it's proving to be very difficult for all of us.

He came to us about 10 weeks ago in pretty rough shape. The little 17-month old boy suffered second degree burns over half his body in an accident his parents couldn't explain. He was placed in foster care with us after spending 8 days in a burn unit south of here a few hours. We weren't told how long he would be with us, but all indications pointed toward a lengthy stay while an investigation unfolded. Understandably there were family members who insisted on caring for him, however State officials were hesitant to place him in such custody until some preliminary standards of care could be proven by these family members.

So he came in to our home bandaged head to toe in gauze. From day one my wife has been awesome with him. The choice to be foster parents was something I felt comfortable with because of how able my wife is as a nurturing mother. She is the most compassionate person I know and she began loving this little guy from the beginning. My boys have shocked me and warmed my heart serving him selflessly the entire time. Each of them changed bandages, diapers, clothes, helped to bathe him and put on his special lotion every day. They have played with him patiently and been largely responsible for bringing him from a state of sadness and pain to giggles and jolly times. He would light up every time he caught a glimpse of one of the boys.

We took him to church the second week he was with us and not surprisingly, the Redeemer family took him in and have been loving on him for these past two months. He was a handful in the nursery as he was totally unfamiliar with such a thing meeting brand new people non-stop since he was taken from his home. Patiently many have ministered to him and I have to believe he has felt a corporate love not previously experienced. I also hope exposure to him will tweak some of our people to consider foster care themselves. Very simply, I truly believe Christians need to be leading the way in taking care of the "least of these". We have so many solid families in our church who would do a tremendous job and provide a wonderful ministry if they became foster parents.

So last week our social worker tells us that his paternal grandmother would like to take custody of him and possibly adopt him if his parents are not deemed capable. Shari and I both recognized how this is generally what the goal is- to re-integrate children back with their families. Theoretically we have been preparing ourselves for some time. We should be more joyful than we are, having accomplished our mission of loving him and helping him to heal from his injuries. We are happy his family wants him back, furthermore his grandmother seems very loving and caring from what we know of her. Nevertheless we are torn about giving him up as we have grown attached and also wonder what his future will be like. Obviously we know God is sovereign, and that is a great comfort, but still... As I write this my wife is coming to meet me so we can drive an hour south to give him to his grandparents. It's a very tough day, I won't kid you.

I can't post any pictures of him, nor can I reveal his name, but I would like to close with a prayer of blessing for him adapted from Aaron's benediction to the people of God.

Dear , May the Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace...I hope we meet again. Amen


pjw said...

Tony, thank you for sharing this story - I didn't know the details of how this child came to live with you. No one would have guessed looking at him at church - he looked happy and whole. These tough times are what help us grow in our faith and trust in the Lord. If everything was good, why would we need faith? It's when we don't understand WHY??? that we have to depend on our trust in God's sovereignty. I'm still struggling with that in a couple of areas, and I thank God for the rock-solid foundation I am getting at Redeemer. God bless your family and this child's family. I pray for this grandmother, too, that she will be fearless in keeping this child safe in the future.

Rick Calohan said...

Thank you Tony for sharing this story of Grace, Love, and Mercy; By His Grace you shall see him again!

Woody Woodward said...

Dear Tony and Shari, pastor, compassionate shepherd and magnificent caregivers of little ones. It broke my heart to read of your families great loss. Your painful words beautifully express your families unselfish, sacrificial giving, Christ like attitudes. We struggle with the “why’s” in this sin-sick world, but we can rest in His surpassing peace, knowing the depths, the heights and lengths, the width and the riches of His sovereign love and care. “Lord Jesus, we ask that Your hands comfort the Felich family. We beseech You to surround about and protect this precious little one. May the Felich’s count it all joy. And in faith, knowing therefore, they have done all, stand in unity, giving thanks and glory to Your Name. For the time they invested in caring and loving this little one pays eternal and unspeakable dividends. Thanks too for so many who have prayed for the this little one. AMEN”

Daren Busenitz said...

Thanks for your example and obedience to Christ's command to care for "the least of these". I am so very proud to be a part of this family who lives this out!

Michael Lockridge said...

Not all heroics achieve headlines. Many who are heroes only think they are doing what is right.

Apparently The Incredibles are not the only family of heroes out there.