If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, "I could never be a foster parent, It would hurt too much to give them back, I just couldn't do it.", well I'd be rich. That is the typical reaction when folks find out we are foster parents and for the most part I know that more often than not people just don't know what to say to that because in a large way it goes against the social norm. It extends beyond the American Dream of raising 2.5 kids in a big house with a white picket fence and retiring at 60 with a load of cash in the bank so you can travel and enjoy life then. It is uncomfortable, OY is it uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable as people stare as we wrangle five little ones into a grocery store visibly doing the math trying to figure out how we have some so close together, it is uncomfortable when the kids can't quite understand why her pictures can't be included on our Christmas card the way theirs can. It is uncomfortable when she has issues with the doctor or therapist and because I am not her mother I am not authorized to make big decisions.
Fostering is needed because of the brokenness of this world, much like adoption and because of that it can't be expected to be pretty or to feel good all the time. I will tell you however that there is a sacredness to holding a crying and scared little one and promising them that your home, now their home will be a SAFE place for them where they will have plenty of food to eat, clothes to wear, toys (gasp of their own), and hugs and kisses for however long they are there. There is a strange sweetness about rocking a sweet one in the wee hours of the morning, knowing that just for a moment you get to BE His hands and feet to her. I know that fostering isn't for everyone and that is okay. It just needs to be said though that most of the foster parents I know, don't do it because it is fun or it makes them feel good or for the money (hahaha!) they do it because it ISN'T about them. They do it FOR the children that God calls His. They do it inspite of themselves, because He calls us to. Sometimes it is beautiful, and often times it is ugly and it hurts like crazy.
I am still relatively new to this whole foster parenting world. We've only been in the trenches since the beginning of September, but we've seen four children placed here, all four leave, one come back and several respite children. Each time a child has left it has hurt. EACH TIME. Even when they were only here a few short days...they were ours for those days and we loved them as best we could. Most days between therapies, social worker visits, parent visits, doctor appointments, WIC and the like I am ready to rip my hair out, it is hard, it is time consuming and it often doesn't make sense, and yet I KNOW full well this is where he's called me.
Anyway, our foster girl, we've had for months now...of her short life she's only known a few weeks without us. The kids love her and we love her and she loves us. She looks for my face when she is scared, she screams like she's on fire if I walk out of her view. She looks at her foster siblings just as a little sister would look up to her big brothers and sister. She is our girl. In our hearts she will always be our girl. The truth is, that none of our kids are TRULY ours, none of them. Next month there will be a court hearing that will judge what happens next and who will be her mom for the next portion of her life. The mother who loved, carried, nourished, and birthed her will have to sit before a judge and answer hard questions, and this breaks my heart. This sweet baby has just this week begun visits with her mother and the father she doesn't know and to say it has already caused havoc on her sweet little self is an understatement, it is gut wrenching to see her have to go through such instability. She is freshly into the stranger anxiety phase and the next month is going to be hard on her, and gut wrenching for us...as we sit idly by and advocate for her as best we can. We know her mother loves her and that sometimes love isn't enough...we are trusting that the judge will see the whole picture and do what is right by this little girl, whatever that is.
I am the one who has been up countless nights when she just wants to party, I have been the one to take her to the ER when a cold grips her little lungs, I am the one who has worn her vomit when her belly hurts and her first mouthfuls of baby food as she sprayed them across my face. I have witnessed every single one of her firsts thus far and I am the one who sings her to sleep each night. It will hurt like crazy to let her go if that is what I am called to but I know loving her has been worth it.
If I were to tell you that my heart didn't sink each time she has to go and be with her biological parents, I'd be lying, though to tell you the truth though it would hurt, nothing would please me more than to see her family reunited and whole. I am not sure if that is possible but I do pray for it each day.
My point here is this. Even for those of us who are chosen for or choose this...it hurts a lot...we are not super human or unfeeling, we don't guard ourselves so that we won't be hurt and we aren't some kind of saint. We are every day broken people who know that sometimes God calls us to put it all out there...to lay our hearts on the line and allow it to be broken. Having Isaac and Asher taught us that no child the Lord gives is ever fully ours...they are His, and sometimes we have to let go...and it hurts...it always hurts...we serve a God who calls us to tough places and to serve Him and His people. This is our way of doing it...it hurts us just as much as it would you, we are just being obedient to what we are called to and trusting that there is a purpose that is greater than our pain because oh man...it DOES hurt.