Saying goodbye is the hardest.
As foster parents, our home becomes a place where children placed in the foster care system come for a period of time. We love them, pray for them, snuggle them, treat them as our own. They truly become part of us. It’s what they deserve and impossible to do it any other way.
All of this is with the goal and prayer the parents can get their lives right. And after they receive the help they need, they can all be a family again. If reunification is not possible with the birth parents, many foster children instead are placed into a birth family member’s home. Whatever the reason might be, reunification can be a good thing but also an incredibly difficult time for us as foster parents.
The precious child we have come to love leaves us. There are also many times when the removal of a foster child may come suddenly, and without any prior warning. We may only have a few days, or even a few hours, before the child is moved from our home.
Our latest foster child was recently placed with a family member after being in our home for 9 months. And it has taken me over a month now to actual sit down and write this. Because in some ways, it was too hard.
I can barely see right now because my eyes are filling with tears. (I may or may not be getting funny looks from others in the local coffee shop… No wifi at the lake house.)
Our family has had other days of shedding tears but then some where we don’t talk about the subject of baby I and try to hold our emotions inside. There are stretches we have busied ourselves so we can’t think about it or maybe it won’t be as noticeable he is gone. But then the next day, we don’t feel like doing anything because we are just too sad.
Quite simply, I think we (in some ways) are grieving the loss of a child.
At first, I felt like a wimp. Others have fostered kids longer then we have… They’ve even done this dozens of times. I mean this is what we signed up for , right? So, why do I feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped away? Why is it so hard?
And I guess that is partially why I wanted to write this today. In case you are in the same boat or have been, don’t feel weird! This is hard. It’s not natural! And it’s not easy! In a perfect world adoption and fostering wouldn’t exist. But we live in an imperfect place. And the right thing isn’t always the easy thing.
Time has passed a bit, I guess. I don’t find myself going to get him out of his empty car seat or grabbing the diaper bag out of habit anymore. So in some ways, time has helped. But I still miss him so much.
We have been spending the summer at our little lake shack. And I think I can say now this was God’s incredible timing. At first, I hated the fact that I had down time. That I had moments to sit and watch the sunset. It gave me time to reflect. To process. Ugh. I’m one of those people who is tempted to stuff emotions or stay busy so I don’t have to think about it. Anyone else relate? I couldn’t do that here at the lake.
Little did I know those sunsets would be so healing for me. It’s given me time to learn more about myself and what God feels for me.
I love this little piece of a blog post written by Jason Johnson (if you are fellow foster parent… Check out his posts. So many truths)
“A consistent theme running throughout the narrative of Scripture is the assurance that when God is near, all is good. When He is with us we do not have to afraid, we do not have to worry, we do not have to wonder. Psalm 46:1 reassures us that, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” When He is near, everything changes. He is an always present, always attentive, always engaged God. He weeps over our mourning and sings over our joys. He meets us in our weakness and reminds us in our weariness that He has been there before us and He is there with us now – sympathizing, holding, understanding and encouraging. In the beautiful, sacrificial, redemptive work you are doing of laying yourself down for the sake of these kids know that you are not alone. You are never alone.”
In these waves of emotions, I have felt peace. I have felt hope. And I have never felt alone.
So what’s next? I won’t be surprised if our family fosters again in the near future. We are still praying for God to make it clear to us when the time is right.
But, it is something I still feel so passionate about. Because, in the midst of all the uncertainties and unknowns that come along with caring for and loving a child that isn’t yours… this is 100 percent something close to Gods heart. These are precious children created in His image.
Though the “system” is incredibly frustrating (that’s a blog post for another day) and our hearts break over each new story of why a child is coming into care… This isn’t hopeless. If a foster child could experience the chance to be loved, no matter how long they stay with us, we would want to be willing to do it. I say this even after feeling the heartache of having to let one go.
Because what these children stand to gain is far more valuable then what we may lose in the process.