Monday, November 14, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane

In September of 2012 we began our journey into the foster care world. It has been a roller coaster for sure and there have been many moments when I have just wanted to throw in the towel, but overall it has been amazingly rewarding and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be just a small part of what God is doing in the world. Our first foster care placement was a 3 week old baby girl. I fell fast and hard for her, she was like an extra appendage of my body and could be found in my arms at all times. Just three weeks after we met her, a case worker drove to my house, with her mom, who loves her VERY much, and I had to hand her back to the woman who grew her in her womb. It was bittersweet loading that girl's belongings into the car that day. I hugged her mom, we both cried and I hit my knees praying that they would be able to be together forever.

Over the next few weeks we accepted a sibling set who were with us just a week and another baby girl who had been born the SAME day as that first baby girl. This baby girl left us to be with her grandparents on November 13th around 7 pm. They picked her up, thanked us and even called me later that night to go over her bedtime routine. My heart was sore but grateful. It was so amazing to be a safe place for kids and to get to see them reunite with biological family. Nevertheless, they became a part of our family instantly and we have missed each of the children who have been in our home. We pray for them each day and try to stay in touch when appropriate.

The morning of November 14th I got a phone call from the agency for a little boy. I told the worker that I needed to think about it as I kind of felt my heart needed a breather. It wasn't like me to hesitate but for a reason unknown to me at that time, I just didn't feel ready. I thought of and prayed for that little guy throughout the day and figured I'd call that afternoon to see if he'd been placed.

Just before lunch time, the phone rang again. It was the agency again, I hesitated to answer, but they never pressured me into taking a placement so I figured it must have been something else. I answered the phone and the sweet worker on the other end, said I wasn't going to believe what she was about to say so I maybe should sit. She explained that after an unfortunate series of events, that very first baby girl we'd fallen in love with was coming back into the system today if she could be found and she knew how much we loved her and she wondered if we'd want to be her foster home again.

Tears of joy and sorrow streamed down my face as I said yes. I hung up the phone, called Howard and started to prepare for her. I waited on pins and needles all day for a phone call saying they'd found her and that I needed to come get her. We continued to wait, the kids were elated and so excited to see her again. Just before midnight that night, I got a call, I left instantly and picked our girl up at a local Burger King parking lot. To this day we joke that babies don't come from storks, but Burger King.

We brought her home and bathed her, snuggled her and cried. We wondered what had happened. We knew her mother loved her deeply, and was surely heartbroken. I won't share any of her mom's story as it isn't mine to share, but she is a kind and loving person and she loves her children and we love her. As it turns out, this baby girl is our daughter Lily Grace. She is a ray of sunshine in our every day and challenges us constantly. We are grateful that she is now forever ours, and we grieve the loss she continues to feel even though she doesn't quite understand it. As foster parents we believe it is incredibly important for kids to know their roots. Lily has seen her first mom when possible and is building a relationship with her biological grandma, great grandma and sisters. It has been an overwhelmingly amazing honor to be able to watch her story unfold. She was our first foster care placement and is now our forever daughter. She is loved by all of us incredibly and also by her biological family.

I pray my Burger King baby will always know how loved she has been all along and not a day goes by that I don't pray for her first mother. November 14 marks the day that Lily came back to us but also the day she was separated from her natural mother forever. We rejoice and we grieve and I think we will probably always dance between the two of those as we navigate this foster care/adoption world, but as you read this story of God's plan for Lily, consider if He'd also have you play this part in the life of a child or a family who needs a safe place for their child even temporarily. It is definitely not for everyone, but could it be for you?