It has taken me a while to get another blog post written since my last. There are reasons.
One being that I could not justify more lost sleep or less time bonding with my own children and Sweetheart to sit down and write.
Another that 3 kids under 4 are just plain ole busy. Mouths to feed, mess upon mess to clean up, bodies to bathe and dress, bums to wipe and diaper, laundry piles to clean/fold/put away, books to read, nap times to fight (at least for the eldest it has become that), lots of bottles to make/give/clean, and hours spent in a rocking chair (but I am not complaining because that is my favorite thing ever…rocking a baby to sleep). Not to mention, parent visits and foster care related meetings and phone calls.
I started and stopped a blog entry several times before my eventual surrender. Turns out I am so glad I spent so much time with Sweetheart & our kids because our time together as a new “family of 5” came to an unexpected end on Monday morning, just about 5 weeks after our journey together began.
We hadn’t expected a call or any changes that day. In fact, I had been told just less than a week prior that Sweetheart would likely remain with us for at least Thanksgiving. I had begun thinking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving travel. But what I KNEW, and should have kept in the forefront of my mind more often, was that in foster care things can and DO change quickly.
You must know that an outing to Target one evening may be your last outing together (it was-and I had stocked up on all her favorite snacks/foods too). Or that rocking her to bed at night may be your last snuggle. Or that the bottle you hurriedly fed her somewhat distracted in the morning may be your last chance to soak in her presence in your arms (it was a chaotic morning). All the “lasts” mean so much more to me now. Time is precious, and it is never certain. Never waste a moment.
Because….”RING, RING, RING”…9:30 AM… she is leaving… today… like as soon as you can pack her up & coordinate her transfer. By 11:30 AM she was on her way to her new home. Within 2 hours I went from thinking we had months to the reality that we had minutes.
I had seen the social worker’s number on the phone. And my heart sank. Something inside me just knew. So I stalled a few seconds, prepared myself, and said “Hello.” The news was hard to swallow. I wanted to beg for just another day. But I know how it all works, and a court order must be followed. There was nothing we could do, and nothing we did. It just is the way it goes. Unexpected changes happen in foster care cases. And this is what we signed up for.
People often say, “I could never do foster care because I would fall in love and I couldn’t give them back.” Every foster parent has heard that. And honestly- – we do fall in love. I fell hard for this Sweetheart. I cried a lot of tears on Monday. But there comes a time when you have no choice but to “give them back”. And you have to trust their future to the One who is in control.
You have very little control in being a foster parent. Trust me, a control freak, it is NOT natural or easy. But it has taught me SO much in the past 5 weeks.
I have learned that I CAN love another couple’s child like my own.
I have accepted that NONE of us know what tomorrow may bring.
And I have decided that I am going to dive in, give it all I’ve got, and risk total heartbreak. Because the alternative is to miss out on some pretty stinking amazing moments.
Our 5 weeks with Sweetheart were some of the best times we have had as a family. I have never respected my husband more…seeing him love on her & sacrifice for her. I fell in love with him all over (gag I know). Watching our kids step up to help out…and the joy on their faces as they did. ‘E’ and ‘K’ turned 4 and 2 with ‘Sweetheart’–she was a part of their party and will forever be remembered as we look at photos of that happy day. She met grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends & neighbors. Everyone loved her- it is a loss for more than just us (that is a whole ‘nother post). She visited the zoo with us, 2 different pumpkin Fall Fests, parks, playdates, local libraries, our family farm, and spent hours playing with us in our basement and playroom. SO many GREAT memories. And to think they’d all never have happened had we decided the risk was too great to love another person’s child.
Will we do it again? Absolutely.
God sent us on this journey. We believe that with our whole hearts (read:The Crazy Story of How God Called Us to Fostering: Risk or Paralysis ?). He sent us ‘Sweetheart’ for 5 amazing weeks. Why would we now not trust Him with what is next?
Walking up the stairs and seeing the empty nursery where ‘Sweetheart’ once slept is hard. But above her crib remains a canvas that says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9” If I did not believe that with my entire being then I could not do this. We could not do this. But we know that not only will God be with us “wherever (we) go”, but He will most definitely be with ‘Sweetheart’ too. I prayed for her during all those hours spent rocking and I do not believe her 5 weeks here were in vain. God has a purpose for everything. A purpose for us and for ‘Sweetheart’. We may not see the full picture now, but He will work it all together in the end for good.
Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
To anyone out there feeling the nudge to foster love and join in this fight against what is destroying families & children’s lives today–pray. And if you still feel that unrelenting prodding on your heart–jump, do it, you won’t be alone, and you won’t ever regret time spent loving another child.
To my family and friends–thank you. Thank you for joining us on this journey and being there for us through it all. Thank you for loving on ‘Sweetheart’. Thank you (Courtney) for being there for me right after we said goodbye, bringing us lunch and helping to cheer us up. Thanks to my brother for calling to check on me. Thanks to all who prayed, texted, and shared wisdom and encouragement. It takes a village. And it is the most amazing thing to see what good can come out of such an awful situation.
Lastly, please continue to pray. Pray for ‘Sweetheart’. Pray for her parents. Pray for her family. Pray for all the overworked social workers I have come to admire. And pray that God continues to guide our family through this– that He brings us another child(ren), according to His will and His timing.