We love because

David shares how fostering has taught him about the Father heart of God

It was the week of the Six Nations rugby final – the highlight of my year. England were due to play Ireland. England were going to win, and it was going to be wonderful.

Earlier that week the three-month-old we were fostering had gone back into hospital. She was in the hospital the first time I met her as a tiny baby. She had Down’s Syndrome and some significant medical needs, and was being tube fed.

My wife Wendy had worked as a nursery nurse, and wasn’t daunted by any of this. She would go into the hospital every day while I was at work. She spoke to the nurses and learnt how to best care for her, and she’d sit with her and pray that soon this little girl would be healthy enough to come home with us. When she did come home, she brought more medicine than I’d ever seen on any shelf in Boots, a special milk that couldn’t be shaken, and a schedule so detailed we needed to create a spreadsheet to keep track of what she needed and when.

She had only been with us a week, maybe two, when she took unwell and had to go back into hospital. I felt like I hadn’t even had the chance to meet her properly, to connect with her or get to know her, and now she was back in a plastic incubator with so many tubes and wires that I couldn’t even touch her. Where Wendy adapted very naturally to the needs of this little girl, I honestly found the situation quite frightening. The tube feeding, the medicine – none of this was within my realms of experience or comfort.

On Saturday morning – the day of the Six Nations final – Wendy said ‘Why don’t we go and see baby today?’ I could see my plan for a day in the living room in front of the big TV slowly fade away, but I knew that Wendy was right; if we didn’t visit baby today, then nobody would.

I’m not proud to admit it, but I was pleased to see there was a TV when we walked into the baby’s room. It was on when we arrived, quietly playing kids TV; I think the nurses hoped the cartoon voices would keep her company. I started to relax a little and realised that actually, my plan for an afternoon of rugby wasn’t totally lost.

“Wendy,” I said, “Why don’t you take our son to get those school supplies he needs to buy this weekend? I’ll sit here and keep her company, and I can watch the rugby at the same time.” So, off she went, and I changed the channel on the hospital TV and stayed put.

After a little while, little girl began to fuss. Not long after that, she began to really cry. She was unwell, and she was uncomfortable, and she was stuck in her little plastic cradle – the best I could do to comfort her was reach my arm in and give her a feeble little pat. I felt cross at the whole situation.

I remember praying and I said to God, ‘This isn’t fair. She shouldn’t be here with me. She should be with her family, she should be well, but she’s stuck here feeling horrible. She’s stuck here with me, someone who is frightened of her and doesn’t really know how to help her, and even I am preoccupied by a game of rugby on the TV. It shouldn’t be like this.”

A nurse came in and found us in our sorry state; little one crying, me feeling cross. The nurse gave baby a little check-over, and said, “You know, things are looking good here. I think as long as we keep her connected to the oxygen, we could take her out for a little while. And then she could have a lovely cuddle with Daddy.”

And then she paused. “Oh. But you’re not Daddy, are you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“What do we call you?”
“Well, I’m David.”

“Well, that’s great,” said the nurse, “let’s have a cuddle with David.” She took the child and, carefully holding the oxygen to her face, placed her in my arms. She showed me how to hold her, and how to hold the oxygen, and then she left us together.

In the quiet of that moment, it felt like God opened the door, walked in and stood beside me. God my own father. God the father of this little baby. God who is the father to billions others. God who provides for His children what they need and keeps them safe. God who gives them the air they breathe. God who comforts His children with His touch. God who walks with His children. God who pours out His love. In the quiet of that moment, as I held this tiny baby who at that time needed the care of someone like me, I felt God show me what it means to be a father.

I’m not Daddy, I’m David. I can’t replace her father, and I wouldn't want to, nor can I be the person who cares for her forever. But for the short time a child is with us as foster carers, we have the honour of reflecting a little of the love that our Father in Heaven has shown us; by providing safety and security, giving them what they need, comforting them, walking alongside them and pouring out love.

We love because He loved us first. We care because we understand that we’ve been cared for. Through my experience as a foster carer, God has shown me the full breadth of my ability to care for the stranger, for the one who wasn’t my own son, or even my friends’ son. One who might bring us into situations that feel challenging or uncomfortable, but who for a period of time has come to us for safety, care and love - and that's what we will pour into them.

I held that little baby until Wendy returned. I did get home in time to watch the big third match on the TV. Ireland played magnificently. England did not win.

If you think you could offer a vulnerable child a safe and loving home through fostering, or want to find out more about how you or your church can play your part in finding a home for every child who needs one, we would love to hear from you. Click here to get in touch.

Author:
David for Home for Good


Date published:
May 2021


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