We said goodbye to our three babies this week.
There are no words to describe this, whatever “this” even is. This experience has highlighted my desire for control and even more highlighted my lack of control. I’m being forced into the safety of my father’s arms and out of the safety of my agenda.
In some ways I feel like Moses’s mother. She gave birth to an Israelite baby boy. She knew her time with him was temporary because of the law but she loved him as her child, because he was her child. He was more than a victim of the law. She loved him and met his every need for the time she had with him and then she had to do the impossible. She had to let go of her baby in hopes of him living a full life. She had to trust that God would provide for an Israelite baby boy in a basket. She understood her limitations. Exodus doesn’t go into much detail about her feelings but it does say the sister stayed to watch him from afar. So I can only imagine her heart was too weary to stay. She probably was in the throws of grief when pharaoh’s daughter found him crying in a basket. I am grieving my babies. I am standing in the pit of unknown. But I have to cling to hope that while I am in the throws of grief “my babies” God’s babies, are being found. Their story is being redeemed. Like Moses’s mother I may not be able to witness the next steps of my faith in process, but I have to rest knowing we flourished within our limits. I don’t know how to do that yet but I will learn.
We are broken people living in a broken world. BUT Jesus. He’s been here in it. He’s the one bringing my shortcomings to the surface to find healing. He’s the one orchestrating the letters of encouragement and support around us, he’s the one creating joy in kids that live in limbo, he’s the one making moments like playing in the sand magical. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is clearer. The wonder of a sunrise, the sadness of a broken granola bar, the possibility of learning. God is intertwined in it all. We’ve learned a lot. Right now we are learning to grieve and wake up each day in a new normal.
I don’t feel prepared to answer the question “where are the kids?” when I am in public. I don’t have the strength to say not with me physically anymore. In my heart so permanently. They will always be our family.
We have been blessed one million times over in the relationship we have built with their mom. She is so very loved. We have had the honor of knowing her story, crying with her, celebrating with her, and holding each other’s hand in the unknown. Children in foster care have families before us and they matter too. You’re not just taking in cute kids, you’re accepting the responsibility of valuing the little ones and the birth families hearts in the process. They are the ones who carried such precious lives. They are the ones who passed down the cute dimples and personality traits we all admire. It’s easy to welcome somebody tiny and cute in your home but are you willing to welcome the unknown adult. Are you willing to welcome the potentially scary unknown past and wrap it in grace too? This process has not only shown me the brokenness around me but within me as well. “Us” and “them” is deconstructed during one meal around the table.
Part of me feels odd sharing a glimpse of this experience. It’s my personal account but it feels different than it did before. How do you show up in world as seemingly the same person but be so different on the inside?
I think it was important to share what I felt before the transition because without the first part of fear, the second part of fulfillment would not be as sweet. Like all things in foster care, ambivalence.
Today I feel more like Mary. She experienced a very controversial pregnancy, it drew a lot of attention, and I’m sure felt more like a punishment. BUT then Jesus was born. And she got to raise him. I feel like I have been raising the most perfect children but she was literally raising the only perfect child. She got to endure motherhood from a lens that nobody else experienced. With that came the fate of watching the gruesome death of her child. She knew he was God’s all along but the pain of the world seemed bigger. BUT the story wasn’t over. It didn’t end in death, in fact it ended in fulfillment of a promise. She got to be a witness, a member of the story. She could fully embody God’s faithfulness but she had to endure the pain of the death first. I feel a bit like that’s where I am. The pain of what I love feels deep, but in the same way the story hasn’t ended there. The story is drenched in God’s faithfulness and I can smile while I weep.
When we began this journey we were told we were crazy. And some of those people were right. We weren’t prepared for what our life would look like after that one syllable “yes.” Now I think the Lord used my eager ignorance. John Mark Comer said, “as Christians we can be guilty of the wrong teaching. We are preaching not the gospel of Jesus but the gospel of upward mobility. We follow a rabbi who’s life ended not in glory but in shame on a cross. If we lose sight of that trajectory of our rabbi we end up with a skewed view of life.” If I am living with Jesus as my example, I don’t see safe or comfortable. I see a Jesus who is okay with wading through hard feelings. Matthew 27:36-46.
I am still grappling with how to exist in a world where I was once a mother. My grief feels overwhelming but my gratitude does too. And maybe that’s okay. It was okay with Jesus to be overwhelmed with feelings and maybe it’s okay in me too.
Through this process I had a lot of people in and out of the system tell me what I was praying for didn’t exist. What I was asking of the Lord would never happen in the world of foster care. BUT “All hail king Jesus! All hail the Lord of Heaven and earth!” I sat in a worship service next to their new foster parents and felt flooded with even the smallest of prayers I saw God answer. Prayers I never even spoke out loud over their future. All along he cared even more than me. He began writing their story far before I knew they existed and I got to be a spectator in that.
We will honor and protect their story as it is not ours to share but for the part that is mine to share, I will sing of my thankfulness. I am honored to be apart of their story. I rejoice knowing their story doesn’t end with me. “It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down.” Thank you God for the tears, giggles, hugs, and kisses. Thank you God for motherhood.
Part of foster care means people are watching because it’s not the typical family dynamic. I feel very uncomfortable with people paying that much attention to us. I share a lot of this in an effort to avoid having to answer “how are you?” over and over. Although we appreciate everyone’s kind words, we feel much more encouraged by your prayers for fellow foster families.