Blessed be the promise-keepers

Joey Garcia

My husband and I have raised six children. The youngest still lives at home. A year ago, we fulfilled a 12-year desire to become foster parents to two brothers (8 and 12). They could have remained with us until they were 18, but my husband is being considered for a two-year transfer to Germany. We are excited, but a friend said that to go would be devastating to the foster children and morally wrong. Admittedly, it was difficult to get the children to trust us. But we provided them with the best home we could when no one else did. We did not adopt; we don’t want a lifelong commitment. My friend says the children trusted us, and that it doesn’t matter to them what legal arrangements we made with the foster agency, we are abandoning them as others have. She asked how we can look them in the eye and take away the best home and hopes for the future they have had simply because Europe would a fun career advancement. We do not believe that it is necessary to sacrifice as much as we would for our own children; temporary refuge is enough. Your thoughts?

I date a man who has two children that I adore. The feeling is mutual. My friend Steve once asked whether I was worried about the impact on them if the relationship ended. “It would be like school,” I said. “You have a beloved teacher that you see every week for a school year. Then, you may see her rarely or never, but you’ll always hold her in your heart. Besides, I can choose to keep in touch, regardless.”

I don’t live with the children, nor did I lead them to believe that our relationship is long-term. Their father, then I, explained (they’re 4 and 7) the concept of dating: a temporary, getting-to-know-one-another relationship that may or may not last. What did your family tell the children, directly or indirectly? Did you talk about the future or behave as if they would live with you until they were 18?

If you and your husband had a 12-year desire to become foster parents, I have some strong advice: Have the courage to live the consequences of answered prayers. Temptation always follows answered prayers. Europe and career advancement are blindingly seductive. With reflection, you may discover that you are acting in ways you once abhorred. For example, did you ever disparage people who choose career over their children? And yes, these children are yours. You desired them.

When I resist temptation and retain my original commitment, I receive extravagant blessings that include a clean version of whatever I was tempted toward. Even if you have already said yes to Europe and no to God, you can cancel and recommit. But if you insist on Europe, explain the experience of change to your children and keep in touch. After all, unless you’ve agreed otherwise, people are a lifelong commitment.

My spiritual connection with myself is dwindling or disconnected. Am I operating in the no mind (a high level of spiritual attainment)? What is the difference between no mind and paying no mind?

When thoughts, emotions and will are fused as one, the result is an effortless presence. The mind is not separate, hence “no mind.” This celebrated state requires much less energy than you are expending. If your old methods of connection are failing, be open to new ones. Avoid investing thoughts in a goal (pay no mind). As activist A.J. Muste said, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.”

Meditation of the week
“Let the one who seeks not stop seeking until he finds. When he finds, he shall be troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be amazed and shall come to transcend all things,” so says the Gospel of Thomas. When troubled, do you stay open enough to be amazed?

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