Recently, I read and cried over a blog post by a foster mom who ran into the boys she fostered several years ago. Time went by, and the boys failed to recognize her, but something instinctual in her knew that the boys she saw in a store were the precious two-year-old twins she once held in the deep hours of the night.
My heart felt heavy for her while reading. The post quickly brought me back to the first time we stepped into the world of fostering a child who really was not our’s. Our son, then a newborn, was on borrowed time in our hearts and lives. He was just an innocent babe, yet caught up in the downfall of poor choices and a legal system.
With every milestone he made, I felt joy, yet strife because I knew the time was drawing near when some very hard decisions were going to be made by the professional team. I remember thinking that if he did indeed leave our home to go with a family member or reunite with his birth parents, then I would try my best to find out where he lived throughout his life so that I could watch him play in the front yard. I would forever love and wonder about the little one that captured my heart.
The thoughts of losing him totally collided with that part of my being that has always rooted for the underdog.
I wanted his birth family to succeed, yet I didn’t.
Is that even fair? Is that even right? Confusion.
I have spoken with many Christian foster parents who struggle with this. On the one hand, they completely and wholeheartedly desire to raise the child who meandered his or her way into their lives. On the other, they also want the birth parents to get clean, get their lives together, and live a good life. Praying for success of birth families, while also recognizing our own selfish desires, is a struggle.
I remember saying to God, “I know You know that I am in love with this child. I know that You know my heart is forever changed by the gift of loving him. God, I do not want his birth mother to fail. I just want things to be abundantly clear, and for You to intervene when necessary.”
The blog post I never had to write is one about grief and loss. Each child that entered our home stayed. They stayed. Somehow, in the miraculous answering of prayer and the desperate tragedy of someone else’s loss, our children became “our’s”.
Instead, the blog posts I have written embrace the fact that our experience as foster parents resulted in lifelong parenting. Our experience ended with glorious days when the Judge’s gavel fell, and the children we stayed up late nights with, held while crying, disciplined, and celebrated milestones with, were declared to be our children. We are now several years out from our foster parenting journey, and yet, it still kind of feels like it all happened yesterday.
Know this. Foster parenting changes you. Long after the meetings are over, the court hearings are no more, the visits cease, and the children either stay or go, being a foster parent leaves an imprint.
It stamps your heart with knowledge that if you grew up in a safe home with loving parents, then you are truly blessed.
It reveals to you that if somehow, despite your choices, you walked into adulthood without addiction, then you are truly blessed.
It humbles you to realize that the battles you face are minimal compared to the wars some are battling, and for that, you are truly blessed.
The blog post I never had to write is one that I will carry with me through the years. I never had to let go and wonder what happened to the babes to which I loved.
For this, I thank God. For this, I am truly blessed.