Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:
“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”
Becoming a foster parent is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (surpassed only by my decision to marry Will!) Despite our challenges with the Ministry and various social workers, I have found more joy in parenting these little lives than I ever thought possible. I have also found incredible grief and misery.
I didn’t think I had a maternal bone in my body, until I turned 35. Perhaps it was one final push from my body, saying, “Time is running out!” or perhaps I had finally matured to a point where I was ready to put someone else’s needs ahead of my own, but I knew I was ready to parent. I’ve always known that I didn’t need to give birth to a child to love them. Some people aren’t even willing to entertain that idea, but for me, I feel no need to share DNA with a child to call them my own.
The question I get asked most often (after, “Is s/he a drug baby?”) is “But how do you let them go? Doesn’t it hurt?” Which is usually followed by this ironic* statement, “I just love kids so much; I could never be a foster parent.”
*Not sure if I’m using the word ironic correctly or if I just pulled an Alanis Morrissette.
I addressed this question in an earlier post right after our first foster baby left us. You let them go because you have to. You let them go because you trust that what is being done is in their best interest. You let them go because you have no choice. It hurts. It hurts so very much. Never knowing if you’ll see them again. Never knowing what the future will hold for them.
It is not easy. It will never be easy. Nothing about being a foster parent is easy. When we strapped our foster son in his car seat, gave him a kiss, and watched him smile at us through the car window as the social worker drove away with him, I thought we’d never come back from that one.
We were lucky, though. His mom kept in touch with us after he went back to her. We were really proud of her, and what she accomplished. She continued to email us, sent us pictures and videos of him. It helped us move on. Knowing he was safe, she was safe, and they were doing really well.
I thought I’d have to take a long break after he left. I was planning to take three or four months off from fostering. The first week, I threw myself into work, cried at the drop of a hat, couldn’t even look at a baby without tears welling up. After two weeks, the house became too quiet, my days too empty. After three weeks, I was ready. We both were.
So yes, it does hurt, but pain doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. It’s about so much more than that. Here’s the incredible thing about humans: we can suffer immense heart break, but it doesn’t have to break us. Hearts heal. Sometimes quicker than you think. Throw yourself back into life. Pain is an inevitable part of living in vulnerability, but so is great joy and happiness. If you cut yourself off from pain, you cut yourself off from everything. You can come back. We did.