“I could never do that.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can’t do it either. I can’t take care of a child and fall in love with him/her, only to say goodbye. Not on my own strength anyway.
I know there will be different stages in this letting go process. Right now we’re in the logistics of transition. Figuring out how many outfits, which toys, books, blankets, etc. we will send with little one. Deciding what to pack these things in. Finishing up our part of little one’s life book. Making sure all the paperwork is organized. And I am thankful for all of this stuff taking up space in my brain. It distracts me, and also gives me a tiny feeling of control in a situation where I really have none.
I try not to worry. I have no doubt little one will be loved and well cared for. But further down the line, when little one is trying to figure out who he/she is. Will the life book still be available with the drawings O. made for little one? Will our memories still be there for little one to read? Will little one know that he/she was so, SO loved by our little family? Will I remember how little one tucked his/her face into my neck to snuggle? What if I forget little ones squishy, rolly arms? How bath-time was our favorite time of day. What if I forget?
We believe with our whole hearts that God called us to this foster care journey. How could we do it otherwise? Sleepless nights, countless crying jags on everyone’s part, getting used to being a family of five. We’re the lucky one’s for having little one in our lives. But we do it for God, and we do it for little one. At the end of every day, and especially at the end of this first placement, it’s just not about us. It’s not about us. It’s not about us.
It’s important to have a good sense of humor going into foster care. Lots of communicating and compromising needs to be done. It doesn’t need to go as we wish or planned, and our happiness doesn’t hinge on being in control. Don’t get me wrong, surrendering doesn’t come naturally for me. But with time, and many, many tears, surrender brings peace. Even though we knew soon after accepting this placement that permanency probably wouldn’t happen at our home, getting the call a few months ago that visits were beginning and home studies were approved was hard. After getting the call from the case worker I sat and cried, holding little one and letting reality set in. It’s been a few months of much joy and pain, but we feel ready to go through this transition. Fully believing it’s best for little one in the long run.
Along the way we’ve been completely honest with our two biological children, trying to answer their questions as best we could. Here are some of their comments:
“Little one is so lucky to have two mommies and daddies.” O
“Me see baby mamma and daddy.” E (he didn’t think it was fair that baby gets another set of parents, and it confused him for a little while)
“Does little one have a sister? Maybe I can be his/her only sister!” O “Me too!” E
“Mama, Daddy, O and me have new baby!” E (a few weeks ago, after it finally sunk in that little one wasn’t staying with us permanently)
“I wish I was a foster kid, they get to have fun visits and toys to play with.” O
“Do you think we’ll have 99 foster children? Not at the same time but a few at a time?” O (I replied with wondering if my heart could handle it, but that God could give us strength.) “I could have a thousand foster children!” O
“Oh, I just love you so much!” O (overheard many, many times)
“Mom, you don’t need to tell baby that Jesus loves him/her. I tell little one every day.” O
For now, each moment with little one is a treasure. We’re learning so much in saying goodbye.