Last summer, on my way home from target, I answered the phone. It was our licensing counselor. There was a baby girl, born five days before, that needed a place to go. We said yes. Three hours later I drove to the back of the office building to meet a case worker holding a tiny little baby wrapped in a hospital blanket wearing only a onesie that looked to be two sizes too big. She handed her to me. Then Kaitlyn and I put her into a car seat. I signed papers and grabbed the hospital bag and a suitcase and we left. Just like that our world changed forever again.
I don’t think that you ever get used to the feeling when a new child is handed over to you. The weight of the world is placed in your hands wrapped in a beautiful human gift. You are excited and terrified. Falling in love is easy. The case will have you feeling raw and like your insides are hanging outside your body with no protection. You will fight hard for the child who can’t fight for themselves. You love them as your own even knowing they aren’t. It’s how it goes. Every time it is the same, every time it is immensely different.
This time we had it on good authority that this baby wouldn’t be with us much longer than six weeks. She was supposed to go to her paternal grandmother and then very quickly back to the parents who loved her, wanted her, and were going to fight hard to be able to bring her home.Through the course of the next few months we soon realized that none of that would happen.
Meanwhile she grew and developed and got fatter and fatter and cuter and cuter! We loved her and she loved us. It was so much fun to dress her up and I carried her everywhere wrapped to my body. She was safe and warm and loved beyond measure on our side. On the other side of the case was feelings of abandonment and frustration with the way everything was being handled. We had very little say in any of it. Being home and in our every day world was a sanctuary to bury ourselves in to rest after venturing over to the other side fighting hard for the protection and rights of this child we loved.
Three months in we began to believe that she would eventually be able to be ours forever. Even though we knew things could change at any moment. They did.
We learned that her maternal grandparents had been searching for her, begging anyone that would listen to help them connect with her. They would complete their home study and we would see what would happen.
We were encouraged to get to know them and to keep in contact with them during the process. I was petrified. As we began to get to know them, their love and care for her was glaringly evident. We began falling in love with them too, just like we did with our Baby H. We sent pictures and updates and facilitated visitations. We formed quite a bond with them. Soon we were fighting for all of us not just the baby. Fighting for a chance to know she was safe. We knew she would be safe with them and loved and she would have everything she could possibly need.
She was seven months old the day I packed all the little things for her that she would be taking to her new forever home. She looked up at me and smiled as I changed and dressed her. For all she knew it was just another day. I knew better. I fought tears all morning. I didn’t want to upset her. I was glad for the preparations that needed to be made. At least there was work to focus on. Every snuggle and kiss meant more than ever before that morning. My world was shattering, there would be no more sanctuary. I dreaded coming home knowing she wouldn’t be there.
John asked to feed her before work that day. We just wanted to savor every precious moment we had left. I’ll never forget him sitting there silent tears stealthily inching down his face as she reached up and grabbed his finger while he held her bottle for her.
Two hours later I handed her to her grandparents. After hugging all together and kissing her good bye I walked out of the DCF office empty handed. I sobbed all the way to the car and all the way home. Memories flooding my mind from the past seven months. Pushing back the fear that she would feel abandoned by me and that she would need me and I wouldn’t be there for her. That I would never see her again.
“You signed up for this Rach….you have no right to hurt like this…suck it up and move on….you knew she wasn’t yours…this is your job…no one is going to feel sorry for you…you chose the foster parent life.”
Then I read John 11:35 Jesus wept. In that passage we learn about Jesus finally going to where Lazerous had lived and been sick. He came knowing Lazerous was dead. He stood at the tomb and prepared to perform a miracle. Before he did so, he wept. He wept for the pain of loosing a friend. He wept for the pain that his friends felt who had been left behind. He wept for the betrayal his inaction had caused Lazerous’ sisters to feel. He wept. HE WEPT? He knew that Lazerous’ death was temporary. He knew it because he was God and he would be the one to raise him from the dead. But in his love for his friends and in his humanness, he felt the pain that death caused and he didn’t want that for anyone, including himself. When I read that I realized: we all make choices in life out of love for others and love for ourselves. Just because I signed up to be a foster parent doesn’t take away the pain of saying goodbye. I didn’t weep because of the injustice of it all or out of surprise that my baby was taken from me. I wept because I miss her. I wept because I would have given anything to be with her. I wept because of the pain I saw in her grandparents eyes as they watched their family be torn apart and the joy when she was brought home to them safely. I wept because she was mine and because she wasn’t. I wept for the pain in my husbands eyes when he held her that last time and for my children who would miss her too. I wept. And it is ok because Jesus wept too.
Since then we have gotten updates and pictures from her grandparents. They let us know how she is. She is doing great!! Growing and so loved. It is such a blessing!!
#beafosterparent #youcantdoit #icantdoit #Godcan