Maybe a sip of water will help.
The lump rising in my throat caused my voice to crack, “Yeah. Sure, we can meet at the store later this afternoon.”
Another unexpected-all-to-sudden departure.
Foster care. I love it and hate it with all of my heart. Truly.
Last night from the porch while the frogs at the pond sang us a song I rocked that sweet baby to sleep and heaven felt so near. It’s those little moments of peace and hope that keep me from quitting.
When he left this afternoon, I couldn’t quit crying. Maybe it was because he’s a baby or maybe it was because he wouldn’t quit smiling or maybe it was the third goodbye in less than 12 hours. Who knows why? I texted the placement supervisor and case worker for two of the three kids we’ve had this week, “Three goodbyes in two days is too hard. We’re going to need a few days for our hearts to heal.”
It hurts. Bad.
We bring them in, set up their area, give them a tour of our home and farm and welcome them to their “right-now-home-sweet-home.” Some stay a few days, others a couple of weeks or few months at best. During training, it is clearly stated and often said the ultimate goal is to reunite the children with their parents or people as soon as possible and I get it, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
If one more person asks me, “Don’t you get attached?” I may snap.
OF COURSE, WE GET ATTACHED!
IS this thing on? Can you hear me now?
Then why keep on? Why continue fostering if you know you’re going to end up hurting?
Because once you know, they’re out there and are in need of care you can’t NOT know.
It’s sobering really how much I thought I knew about fostering having taught public school but as it turns out, I know very little. Nine months and 19 children later I have observed and made notes of these things:
- Every case, every face, every story so unique and very similar.
- Hugs are a universal language.
- Stuff: excessive toys, a plethora of shoes, clothing and or tech gadgets are not necessities. They are luxuries.
- A warm shower, clean bed, and kindness go a long way.
- Always say goodbye and leave on good terms. Life can be up on its head in a moment.
- I thought through fostering we would and could change the world one child at a time. What I have experienced through fostering is that children are often the best teachers, and I have much to learn.
J and I, with head and hearts still reeling from the week, were talking before bed when he precisely expressed how I felt.
“It’s like a little death when each one leaves. Like a little part of us is gone.”
It is nothing new nor is it a respecter of persons. Many of you have walked through the valley, and the shadows before as have we.
Even my Savior was not exempt.
Good Friday is the day Jesus died for you and me. Good Friday is the day I delivered our oldest son after years of barrenness and loss. It is a day I have grown to respect, cherish and hold dear only this year was different. Deeper. Heavier. Much heavier. It held both weight and wings. Waking to celebrate Tucker’s 11 years of life and ending with a heartbreaking goodbye to a little one we loved like our own.
It would be easy to quit. It would feel better to close our doors and say no more. We could play it safe, love them less and silence the ringer on our phones. We could stop believing that it matters and doubt that God is working all things together for good. We could.
“When belief in God becomes difficult, the tendency is to turn away from Him but in heaven’s name to what?” ~G.K. Chesterton
…but in heaven’s name to what? That’s my favorite part.
The word what brings to mind a few more questions:
What IF it does matter?
What if we are making a difference?
What if this was the best week of that child’s life?
What more can we do to let them know they are loved?
What could we do to help them hurt less?
So what if caring is a risky business?
What if death is the beginning of a new life?
I say a BIG FAT Y-E-S to all of the above.
What will you say? And before you say you can’t please consider what you can do as you read through some of the things others near and dear to us have done. We could not do it without help. Again to your question, “How do you do it all?”
Quite simply, I DON’T.
There are LOTS and LOTS of people in our family and community who have helped.
Consider these from just this past week:
- One sister came and held the baby and chatted with the new kids on the block while I did paperwork and talked with case workers.
- Mother cooked us supper the night the three extra children arrived while I got their belonging settled.
- A brother-in-law mowed our yard because it needed it. One of our boys broke the key off in the ignition of our lawnmower. #benearmeLordJesus
- Dad let us borrow his suburban because our car is not safe for a family of seven.
- Another sister bought some snacks and personal items for the girls.
- A local church rallied together and made basic care packs for foster children. They then blessed us by sharing items the children needed.
- A friend gave me a shoulder to cry on when the last one left us just five days later.
See? Foster care is not a solo mission. I didn’t write this post for sympathy or a pat on the back. It isn’t about me. I am using what God has given me, this space for His honor and glory. I share these stories as a reminder-It takes us all. I hope you’ll say yes and get involved some way somehow because life is better when it’s lived together.
Oh, and when DHR calls again, and they will, we will say yes. We will say hello and goodbye, we will laugh and cry, and finally, I will wipe the warm tears and know that I’m alive.
Happy Resurrection Day!
P.S. Because it’s fitting and my favorite poem on the planet…. I read Risk for the first time while in college. I copied it, laminated it, cut it out and hung it by my desk and read it every single day that I taught public school. I have it in the front of my calendar now. I hope it pierces you in the way it does me each and every time.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose your feelings is to risk
exposing your true self
To place your ideal, your dreams before a crowd
is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure
Because the greatest hazard in life is risking
NOTHINGThe person who risks nothing