Throughout the year I save a pile of books for my “Summer Break” reading list. Because they come very highly recommended I usually have a great few weeks of nothing short of fantastic reading.
This past spring in the middle of the media deluge that accompanied our “Pure Sex” teaching series at RiverTree a new source suggested a book I had never heard of. We were sitting in my office with cameras rolling when one of the TV news personalities from one of the major Cleveland networks took an unexpected interest in the fact that Julie and I are in the process of domestic adoption. She quickly asked, “Have you read the book, Finding Fish?” She proceeded to explain that Finding Fish is the memoir of Antwone Quentin Fisher and that it had recently been made into a major motion picture directed by none other than Denzel Washington. I added it to my “Summer Break” reading list.
Finding Fish is the amazing true story of Antwone Fisher (hence his nickname “Fish”). “Fish” spent his life in the Cleveland, Ohio area living in a Foster Home with a preacher, his wife and their family. Unfortunately, the book chronicles the amazing abuse that Antwone received in his upbringing and his triumph over what appeared to be insurmountable odds in his adult life.
The book leaves me with many challenging questions. How can professing Jesus-followers perpetrate such atrocities on a child? Actually, that’s the easiest one. We, who claim to be Jesus-followers, are still sinners struggling to do our best to live the life God has called us to. Unfortunately, that leaves us flawed followers. What is disturbing is the ongoing lack of remorse from the preacher and his wife over what they put “Fish” through.
The bigger questions are much more personal.
For instance, what is my responsibility to children who have been damaged by troubled homes and systems, especially in light of Jesus’ consistent valuing of the oppressed which was especially magnified when it came to children? As difficult as the Foster Care system is and as troubling as the children can be, if followers of Jesus do not care for them . . . then who will love them in Jesus’ name? Who will share with them the bright hope and future that God has for them? Who will, in many cases, give them a home they hardly dare dream imaginable?
For me, Finding Fish has been an important read. One more step on the journey of life that God has me on. If you don’t want to face some difficult questions you may want to skip this one.
Foster kids can certainly be a handful sometimes, but you would be, too, if you were growing up knowing that nobody wanted you, and you were bounced from home to home…especially into and out of homes where the parents had children of their own. From house to house, the rules would change, and you’d never know what’s expected of you. You’d have to leave your friends to go to a new house. And you know that sooner or later, you’re going to age out and be left to fend for yourself, dispite your insecurities and deep emotional and personal needs that were never met. That’s enough to drive anyone nuts!
My husband is an OPATA Domestic Violence Instructor. He was the Summit County Domestic Violence Unit until they disbanded it. What our responsibilities are to these children is to do what we can to interrupt the cycle of violence. Domestic violence is a learned behavior. People who grow up in abusive households usually grow up to be in abusive relationships because it’s “normal” for them, even though it hurts. It’s all they know. They become battered spouses or they become abusers themselves.
It is a hard cycle to break. My son(legally stepson) experienced a great deal of domestic violence from birth thru age 7. Since I married his mother he has not seen any but the life formation that occurred during his younger years has molded him. He develops those traits with the ones he loves today at age 26. I can truly attest to the importance of teaching young children at a very young age. My brother and his wife have fostered severe behavior problems and those with autism for over 15 years. While they do not have a christian home(I keep praying) they do some amazing things with those kids. They now have two group homes for the same kind of children. We have celebrated holidays and birthdays with those kids just as they were always part of our family even those that could not be in a room alone with my daughters.
Really proud of you and you family! I’m still learning on this journey.