I’m sitting here trying to process all my heart is feeling. Our 26 month foster son was just carried out of our team meeting with his mom- and just like that he’s no longer mine.
This is a good thing- actually a great thing! One we’ve been diligently working towards for almost two years. To reconcile them. And yet even as I held back tears of joy and pride during the meeting- occasionally one escaping down my cheek- I sit here 30 mins later with them steaming down my face as I realize that he’s not ‘mine’ anymore. I was his momma who took him from the hospital and quite literally nursed his little disabled body back to health. He was my baby who I rocked to sleep and took to doctors appointments, fed and nurtured. We laughed over him and later with him as he finally found his voice, his coos and giggles. We mourned passing milestones that he missed even as we found out how very rare his genetic diagnoses was- only 14 in the whole world have it! He patiently let me carry him to innumerable doctors appointments. We worked hard together learning from each other how to best feed him and keep weight on. We celebrated when he gained a half a pound here and there. My little guy came out of his neglected shell eventually and I watched in awe as his bright and beaming personality shone through his otherwise frail body.
Little Man was mine. He was mine to love on, take care of, nurture, and protect. For 21 months I was his momma- the first face he saw in the morning and the one who kissed him goodnight.
But today, he got to go home. To his bio mom, who I know loves him just as fiercely as I do. I’m so very pleased for her, what a huge accomplishment- to work so hard to get things together and improve in order to get your baby back. It is a rare thing in the fostering world to have such a huge turn-around and to feel so comfortable in returning a kiddo to their folks. This is a true success story.
And yet I’ve been struck by how much I’ve mourned his absence. Like a death a bit I imagine. Gone but not really. Mine but not really. A part of our family- a baby brother, a baby son… but not really.
My momma hurts like he was all mine though. I miss him more than I could have known. The house feels 23 pounds emptier, the volume 26 months quieter, the light within our family 28 inches shorter. Yes we will miss his little presence even as we know he’s not completely gone from us.
I never wanted to foster. It was never on our heart to do. I didn’t think my heart could handle letting them go. It turned out I was 100% right. It can’t and the grief is real. I got attached. I took this child in as my own- my very own. And I was his MOTHER. He was our SON. Yes, indeed, the whole family got too attached. But I’ll tell you something- I’m so pleased we got in too deep. I never anticipated feeling such grief but I also couldn’t have expected the deep abiding sense of absolute peace in knowing we did it RIGHT. The presence of my mourning tells me that I invested, I poured out, I gave myself to something bigger and more precious than myself. I’ve learned that the deep sadness comes on the heals of deep love, deep commitment. You can’t have one without the other.
So I take peace in knowing I’m pretty sure I did this correctly. I completed my appointment, my ministry for this little guy is finished. Mission accomplished… and I have the tender raw heart to prove it. And so I’ll sit here and cry it out for awhile, nurturing my momma’s broken heart, knowing that this is most likely one of many to come. Such is the life of a foster mommy- the calling to love hard even under the shadow of expected loss. Fostering is not a ministry for the faint-hearted indeed it is a ministry for the tender-hearted, the open-hearted. The more tender the better. The more attached the better. The more tears the better. Because that, my dear friends, proves you indeed are doing this momma thing right.
That is truly the heart of Jesus Christ, to love and sacrifice it all even in the very real shadow of expected separation. He took no less chance on us up there on that cross- giving His very life knowing that so many would not know His saving grace, instead spending an eternity without Him. Yet He still choose to give that kind of love, to pour it out on us, even knowing the timeline was short or perhaps non-existent. Some will follow hard, some will follow but only marginally, others will not choose Him at all. His love and sacrifice remains the same no matter the outcome.
And so ours will be too. We will love on these kiddos hard, some will stay with us, others time with us will be short, still others time may be long… but not forever. And that’s okay, because though my heart and arms ache for Little Man, my love and decision to be his mommy was never dependent on what our future would be together. It was based on loving him at this place, during these times, for as long as God wanted him with us. So be well, healthy, and happy little guy. Continue to thrive and light up a room like you always do. We were blessed to have you as our son for while and we will continue to watch you grow up from afar. We love you forever and always sweet boy.
Love, Your other Mommy