Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child (letter #8)

You sat across from me; worry and sorrow dripping from your pores. Your mind wracking with concern. Your heart aching for an answer. You said, “I was told this is how the system works. This is what I should expect.” For a brief moment, I froze in my seat; my own heart plunging into despair. Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, the least comforting words you can hear are “This is how the system works.”

People say that to you, don’t they? They seem to just let it out without a care in the world. In the upside down that you are experiencing, there really are no care-free words. What you walk through each day is far from that.

I refuse to be someone who reminds you of how the system works. I won’t let you feel less validated or that you are in the wrong for having strong emotions. Actually, on the contrary, I welcome your feelings.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to wonder when you will have to let go or when you can finally rest in permanence. It’s completely well with me for you to be human.

If anyone knows “how the system works”, it is you. Sitting through weeks (maybe even months) of training about how to care for strangers’ children, your own childhood is being explored. Your financial statements are viewed, fingerprints logged, and friends are called upon to give a reference. You are studied over and over again – watching each and every move.

You show up at meetings and speak the truth that needs to be shared – how the stranger’s child you are loving on is doing. Court hearings, therapy sessions, and visits with anyone who is related to the child are just a part of your new normal. Case managers, licensing workers, attorneys and therapists knock at your door. You prep the child for what is to come of the day, wipe away the tears, comfort the wounds, take the wrath of trauma and whisper hope to the Heavens.

As you sit back and listen to everyone discussing a child whose future is unknown, you want so much to voice your opinion and in doing so, you tremble with fear that someone might think you are “sabotaging” this whole thing. You gain the courage to speak but with anticipation of hearing “this is how the system works”.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you deserve to be heard.

The reality is that you want so very much to see success. You are gutted at the thought of anyone living in despair. If you could, you would wrap the stranger, that has come into your life through a child, and nourish him or her with just enough healing and love to break the cycle and carry on. You desire to do this, even if it means a total loss for you.

There really is no other scenario in life where raw feelings of loss would be met with callous words. Would we say, “well, you knew it was coming”, to someone experiencing the death of a loved one? Gosh, I certainly hope not. Yet, in foster care, this is said a lot. These words do nothing to comfort. They fall flat on anguished hearts.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, don’t forget that while the rest of the world might be judging you, the child you are caring for is growing and changing BECAUSE of you.

It’s okay to get attached – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Without attachment, there is emptiness. On the outside of love, there is stillness. When hope is left out, there is no future. This is how love works. It is unreasonable to expect anything less.

To love a child you may let go, is something that most people would not do. If this were easy, everyone would do it. Sure, all of this may be how the system works, but you know how resilience works, don’t you?

Stay strong, (foster) Momma. Never forget the impact you are making in this world. It has ripples. Those ripples become streams that soon turn into waves. It is more than just a “system”. It is our future.

For you, this is life. This is how you mark your place in the timestamp of history. Your love is changing generations.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, don’t forget that.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #6}

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You drove away the other day, didn’t you? You packed up your car with a year or two worth of memories of the child you have loved on, held on for one last time, kissed goodbye, and drove away.

You just wanted to turn the car around. You wanted to grab that little one, and hold on. You needed to feel that sweet embrace one last time, but you could not. As the miles began to separate you from the child you have called your own, the tears began to flow.  You held them in.  Brave warrior.  You held them in.

Now as the silence is thickening the air around you, the tears just seem so desperate to escape. Each tear carries a memory, doesn’t it?  The first time you saw the stranger’s child, that moment when you had a “breakthrough”, the silly laughs in the morning, the transformation you started to see in the birth mother, and the sound of a Judge’s voice determining that the child needed to return to the stranger whose child you have loved – are all just a glimpse of the lifespan of fostering that little soul.

To say it isn’t fair is an understatement, right? After all, you have been there to pick up the pieces of this broken child. You have worried night after night wondering if the child could get a few hours of sleep without calling out or having bad dreams. You mended that little wounded soul when there was a setback. It was you who watered, fed, and enriched this precious child’s roots with love, stability, and maybe just a bit of hope for the future.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You had to drive away, didn’t you? I cannot imagine. I don’t want to. You did all of this while listening to the opinions of others who just don’t get it. It’s okay to be heartbroken. It’s okay to be angry.  It really is.

However, dear Foster Momma, those pieces of your soul that you gave away to the child you said goodbye to will carry on. They will carry on in the prayers you taught him or her to say.  They will carry on in the ability you taught to cope with surroundings, and the roots that you have toiled to establish. They will live through each success the child has, and in every heart-moment to come.

It will take a while for you to heal.  After all, no one has ever said that foster parenting is easy.  It is so hard.  You have delved right into the despair of generational abuse and neglect, drug abuse, chronic poverty, and misguided souls.

In every way, you are a missionary.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I find myself thinking of you, a lot.  I want you to know that there is nothing greater than pouring yourself into a child….even if only for a little while.  You may have had to drive away, but at least, you were there. You were present in every moment. You dried each tear.  You voiced your concerns, and praised progress. And, after all was said and done, you had to let go.  Through your faith, you have stood tall, and because of your faith, you will carry on.

Nothing will ever take away what an incredible blessing…a miracle, really…that you have been in this child’s life.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7