If I had to choose one thing we’re told most when people find out we foster babies it’s that: “I could never do that. It’d be too hard.” Can I let you in on a little secret? It’s too hard for us to.
While I don’t think everyone is supposed to be foster parents, this statement makes me twitch a little. Our hearts are no less big or loving than anyone else. It kills us to. Just as much. Our hearts love these kids as our own. We go through the ups and downs – withdrawals, nightmares, physical pain, emotional pain, moving, schedules, fears, visitation, court, appointments, etc. All these things create a tight bond. We are bonded by what we overcome together. Once we overcome, we sometimes have to say goodbye. I don’t know why this is the plan but it is.
We’ve said goodbye four times. Four times I’ve washed and packed up our kids clothes, their favorite blankies, the stuffed animal we gave them on their first night, their toothbrush, hair stuff, bath wash, toys, and favorite snacks. Four times I’ve sat at my computer and written out their schedule, likes and dislikes, and given our contact info. Four times I’ve gone through and printed out pictures of our favorite memories for them to hopefully have with them for a lifetime. Four times we’ve prayed over our kids before they were carried out the door for the last time sometimes crying, – sometimes screaming, sometimes looking at me with wondering eyes. Four times I’ve closed the front door and fallen to the ground crying, wondering if we did enough, loved them hard enough, told them about Jesus enough, prepared them enough. And let me tell you – I’d do it a hundred more if that’s what we’re called to do. This pain of loss is not as bad as a life of not knowing them would be. They grew us, tested us, taught us, and were fiercely loved while they were ours.
This morning was that fourth time. After our last goodbye I didn’t know how we’d do it again… then the phone rang. We got a call for a little girl and instantly we reacted. She needed us and although I didn’t know if we’d make it through the first month in one piece, I quickly learned we needed her to. She taught us the most out of all our kids. She taught me a new level of patience among other lessons. Although I’m slightly scared to think of why I needed to learn to have more patience, I quickly learned the lesson just the same. She grew us and stretched us.
She was walked out our front door this morning. The same door she walked through for the first time at the beginning of this year. Our only hope is that she left better equipped for this transition than when she came. All I could tell her was how much I loved her and how beautiful she is then she was gone. Unlike with our other kids, we will probably never see her again. She took a piece of my heart with her when she left. She may never remember us, but our prayer is that she remembers how loved she is, remembers how someone is always going to be there for her, remembers she is HIS.
Through these moments of loss God’s taught me that He is in control. He’s taught me that He is good because He gave us these kids even for just a little while. He’s shown me, and my mother’s heart, how much He loves me by making me a mama.
I walked back into my house this morning and saw the couple toys we didn’t send on the floor, her high chair with cherrios and a few pieces of waffle left on it, her picture on our coffee table, and I felt the gravity of the loss. But I also felt the gravity of the love. God knew we’d get that phone call and say yes. He knew she’d strip us down with challenges before He’d build us back up, stronger than before. He knew we’d have to say goodbye before the phone even rang. I don’t know why, but one day I’m sure I’ll look back and see that even in this pain His hand was there.
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
John 13:7 NLT