"Recently a friend asked me 'If you'd known then what you know now, would you still have done it?' She was talking about my experiences as a foster mother. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done.
"I truly, deeply, bottom-of-my-heart feel that it is what the Lord wants me to be doing. People sometimes tell me they could never be foster parents. I always answer that if they felt as strongly as I do that the Lord wanted them to do it, they could, because I could not do this alone either. Nothing in my life has ever made me rely on the Lord this way. I have literally spent entire sleepless nights in prayer. I have begged God for guidance, for peace, for help.
"I cannot even describe how painful and difficult the past 3 years have been. But I have not been alone. I have felt the Lord guiding my words and my actions. I have felt Him flood me with the love He has for my foster (now adopted) son. I have felt His arms around me in my darkest moments. I have had angels sent to me in the form of friends, neighbors, and family members, to give me the support and help I needed.
"And still, at this point, I have to consider the experience a failure. My son has not been able to rise above his difficult past. He is, in fact, doing absolutely nothing to move his life forward in any positive direction. He is sinking. He is repeating his parents' mistakes. It breaks my heart. I am hurt and angry and frustrated and guilty and so, so sad.
"Sometimes I feel so shattered that I have a difficult time breathing. And I have to ask, what was the point? Why did I put myself and my family through the conflict, the stress, and the sacrifice? I would give anything for that kid if I felt that it would honestly make a difference, but it hasn't. And yet, knowing all of this, would I do it again? I think I would. I have grown closer to the Savior through this experience than I had ever been before, and I would not trade that.
"A wise friend pointed out to me that in a way, what I am doing has strong parallels to the Atonement. I am doing this voluntarily because God asked me to. I did not cause the crap in this kid's life, but I am willing to cause myself tremendous heartache in order to try to fix it. That's what the Atonement is all about—the fact that Jesus Christ, because God asked him to, willingly suffered in order to try to fix all the crap in our lives. Crap He didn't cause, but He tries to fix it anyway. And I say 'tries to fix it' because, just like in my situation, it doesn't always work.
"How many people really, truly appreciate the Atonement and avail themselves of it in their lives? And how many people turn their backs and reject everything Jesus offered? I'm not Jesus. I'm not saying I'm anywhere near that. But I have proved to myself, and I believe I've proved to the Lord, that I am willing to do anything He asks me to do to try to save His children. Anything. For as long as He needs me to do it. I'm glad to know that about myself. And I still have hope that my son will be a success story someday. I'm not done with him and the Lord isn't either.