Continuing along on our journey of being a foster family, I wanted to chat about THE question that inevitably always comes up when talking to someone unfamiliar with or new to foster care: “How will you be able to let them go?”
Well, last week was our first personal experience with this, so I feel like I finally have a credible answer to give. First of all, every family is different and every child’s case is different. Some kids end up going to places that are less than ideal in the eyes of the foster parents. Others go to safe, loving homes. And still others go to places that have been proven unsafe and unloving, with a good chance that this child could end up back in the system. So, I will not presume to touch on every varying possibility, but I am more than happy to share our own experience and hopefully it’s an encouragement to you.
Last week, our sweet little foster daughter left us to go live with a relative. We had the privilege of caring for her and including her in our family for four months. We got to see her first steps, teach her new words and smother her in love. In return, we were blessed with her smiles and kisses and the peace of knowing that we were exactly where God wanted us to be.
Looking back over the course of those months, I see God’s favor everywhere! We worked with some amazing people, from CPS workers (yep, it’s true!) to hospital staff to our agency, support group and more. The people on this case cared about her well-being most of all and it was such a blessing to see that happening. It was a crazy mixture of emotions that swept over me when we were told that she would be leaving “next week”. Suddenly we had to think about gathering all her possessions and inventorying them, all the while feeling so grieved and saddened that we may not ever see her again. I vacillated between peace and mourning, relief and deep sadness, excitement for her and fear about her transitioning. Up and down for days!
But one thing helped us the most: from the very beginning of this journey for us, we kept in mind that until God tells us otherwise, these children that we invite into our family are not “ours”…at least not yet. We are the caretakers standing in while their forever home is prepared. Our hope has always been to adopt, and that is still the case. But until that is legally available as an option to us, God has helped us give love freely and fully, while still holding them loosely in our hearts.
People often say, “I could never do that! I’d get too attached and wouldn’t want them to go!” I get it…we got attached too. She was so unbelievably precious, it would’ve been a lost cause to even try to avoid attachment. And that’s exactly what I said when I tried to avoid walking this road two years ago. But God dropped peace on me, over and over and over again. I knew that it was okay for my heart to get a little bruised and it’d be worth it if I could be a safe place for God’s little princess.
Along with peace and favor, God just showed off in so many little ways! Without seeking it out, I was invited to meet the out-of-town relative that would be the new guardian for this sweet girl. That meeting alone dispelled fear and gave me reassurance that she’d be safe and well-loved. I was thanked profusely for everything we did and was assured that we would be able to maintain contact and hear updates as she grows.
So, when the day came to say good-bye, along with the rest of her things, I tucked in a scrapbook with pictures and prayers to say how wonderful she is and how much she touched our lives. We had one last dance party in the living room, watched her shake her little booty to the rhythm, shared tons of hugs and kisses and waved bye-bye as she was driven away. The house was noticeably quiet that day (even with our two kiddos)! I looked around at the baby things and felt her missing. But even as we started to pack those things away and go on with the business of life, like the excitement of grocery shopping, God drenched us in peace.
Peace amidst the heartache and sadness. Peace that helps me enjoy the back-step to two children in the house. Peace to trust that God knows better than I do. Peace that I am confident this adorable little girl is safe, loved and getting comfortable in her new home.
As for us, we are taking a break for a little while to rest and rejuvenate and most importantly to listen to what God has next for our family. His timing is perfect.
If you’re a foster/adoptive family or are considering it, visit Chosen Ones! God brings special families together and this amazing ministry provides support and encouragement to make these families successful. They have immensely blessed us in our journey and I can’t imagine having walked this road without them!