We celebrated the little one’s first birthday today. He had a good time seeing familiar faces, and squashing the bright orange and white icing between his stubby little fingers. Grandmothers, a great-grandmother, a “Mamoo and Papa”, uncle and his birth mother were present to celebrate the first year of this sweet boy’s life.
I know that by honoring his birth mother, I honor this child. I also know that loving him is loving her, and vice-versa. I feel quite blessed to raise him, and to have an open relationship with his birth mother. Truthfully, I’m honored that she trusts me enough to parent her son. I’m not going to pretend for one minute what it’s like to be in her shoes, nor am I going to judge. The important facts of the situation are that we all have a vested interest in the safety,well-being, and love of this little boy who is a gift to us all.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I tell people how many children I have. Three. Three children. I remember moments of anxiety while we were getting approved as foster parents as if they were yesterday…moments like this one…
It was the mid-summer of 2006 when my husband and I had finished up our foster parent training classes and were waiting to become licensed as foster parents. Earlier in the year I had met a little girl in a foster home and instantly fell in love with her. She was a pixie of a girl with blonde wispy hair and big blue eyes. I truly felt she was supposed to be mine. She was the reason we sought to become foster parents.
Months passed by, and we were not approved yet. In the meantime, the little girl that I swore was going to be my daughter went to live with another family so that she could become their daughter. Our process to become a licensed foster home took longer because I had previously worked for the state, and I figured that they needed to make sure it was all on the “up and up” that we were approved as foster parents.
During that summer, I went to the lake to play on the water with my parents, cousin, and her young son. As I swam away from the boat a bit, I looked back and watched my cousin interacting and swimming with her little boy. The vision of this mother and son reminded me of what I was missing. Before I knew it, I started sobbing.
I quickly turned myself around so that my cousin and dad could not see my tears. I felt foolish, but could not stop. I was floating in the middle of a lake having a full-blown, heart-wrenching breakdown. The water usually gives me a peaceful sense of weightlessness, but not on that day. The weight of my broken heart made it hard to keep myself above the water. My mother saw what was happening, and made her way over to me. I don’t remember if we really even exchanged words, but she knew why I was crying.
My best laid plans for that summer were to become a foster parent, accept placement of that little girl I fell in love with, and go about our merry way in becoming a family. My plans fell through. Just like the drop of my tears into the lake, my plans quickly dissipated into a vast sea of confusion. I had no idea what was going to happen, and was tired of worrying about it.
After crying it out a bit, I pulled myself together, swam back to the boat, and put my sunglasses on so that my red eyes would not give away what just happened in the water. I put on that familiar mask of a smile that I’ve worn so well through the years. I don’t think anyone except my mother knew that my heart broke apart a bit while wading in the water.
A few months later we were approved as a foster home and received a call about a baby boy who would become our first foster placement, and then our forever son. A few years later, we would get a call about a baby girl who also became our forever daughter. And now, seven years removed from that moment of despair in the lake, I watched with eyes of love as another little one dug his hands into his first birthday cake.
That moment of wading in the water plays in my mind quite often. I remember the feelings I had, and the thought that my plans….my best laid plans….would never happen. I think about my worry, about my struggle, and about the sorrow I once experienced. If I could go back and swim alongside my broken self, I would say, “Don’t worry. Don’t let your sorrow weigh you down. Your best laid plans are nothing compared to His plans for your life.”
Dear readers, If you find yourself wondering when or if you will become a mother, please do not give up hope. You are not alone in this, even though it might feel like it. Reach out to others who understand what it feels like to be walking in your shoes. Be encouraged, and know that your Father in Heaven hears you. He sees you, and He holds you. Blessings – Caroline