Today. It had to come today. The dreaded call all foster and foster to adopt parents know is out there, looming on the horizon like an offshore thunderstorm rolling up on your day at the beach. The phone call. The call is not just any call but the case manager calling to tell you the child you have loved and prayed over and lost sleep over for the past XXX months/days/weeks is going home. Maybe not home to parents but home with family. Not your family and not your home and maybe not the place your child considers home but home. As in permanently (hopefully) with her family. And while you know in your head this was what you signed up for and you truly are rejoicing that this little one you love so completely is going to be with people God designed her to be with your heart is breaking. No doubt about it. Ripping right in two. IT SUCKS. Do not miss this non fostering people; this is hard and it sucks.
If you Google “what not to say to foster parents” you will get blog after blog after blog telling you not to tell us in the fostering trenches that you could never do what we do because you would get too attached. Here’s why. If we are doing foster parenting right we do get too attached. We fall head over heels in love with these kids that we have a hand in raising if only for a much abbreviated time. But here’s how I look at it. Our hearts are muscles, right. Fostering is a lot like lifting weights. The process of weightlifting tears your muscles, a little bit, and in the recovery they grow bigger and stronger. In fostering our hearts get a workout and get ripped to shreds. But hopefully, with the strength of Christ that enables us to do this thing, our hearts get a little bigger and stronger so we can do this again. So we can take the other call, from the stressed out case worker telling us there is a child in need of a home because, through no fault of their own, the county has stepped in and they are in state care. Yes it sucks but there is so much good that goes with it. My heart can stand this.
Yep. H is going home. Got the call today, while I was reconciling a DOD grant and trying to figure out where that $2000 of extra expense came from, you know just working on boring accounting nerd stuff. It knocked the breath right out of me. My first thought was “don’t they know she is scared to go home.” My second thought was “how to I tell her.” And then “how do I tell Tim.” After the call I had to take a break and walk around the campus and pray. Pray. PRAY! This is not in my hands. This has to be in God’s and I have to center myself on that. God is in control. I can trust his hands, I can count on his hands and I know His heart for this little girl is so much bigger than mine ever will be. I will pray for God to use His mighty hands to protect her and keep her. I will pray that she comes to know that what I told her is utterly and completely true, that God loves her so much more than I ever will or can and that knowledge will sustain her through the hard stuff.
Now my mind is racing 100 miles an hour. So much to do. There’s the Christmas presents we bought her that are stacked up in boxes in the dining room that we haven’t even opened and wrapped. What about the doll house, do we give it to her parents to give to her on Christmas day? And I need to wash all her clothing? Some of it, a lot of it, she has outgrown while living with us. And she just lost her first tooth this week, I need to make sure her parents get that for her baby book. Do they even have a baby book? And toys. What do we do with the toys? What about her dentist appointment the week after Christmas? And I just put in leave for the holidays so I could stay home with her while she is on school break, can I change that in the payroll system or is it too late?
Yeah – so I’m off to do what calms me down in overwhelming, stress filled events. I’m going to make a list. The tears are being held at bay by a very thin thread and the grief, oh the grief. It will come and it will stay but hopefully it won’t take too long for the rebuilding of our heart muscles and the next call will come…