Friday, June 17, 2016
a statement or proposition that, despite sound reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.
“It isn’t fair, it doesn’t make sense. She couldn’t take care of us, and we are big kids.” One of my sweet kiddos broke down this week, the first real breakdown since “Little One” left our home, now almost one month ago. This is the part of foster care I hate, it is the ultimate paradox and the place I struggle to find peace.
Some of you know first hand, the ache of foster care or the loss of a child. Some of you know the system is broken and in need of overhaul. Others, maybe you don’t know, much like me 3 years ago, blissfully unaware. We live in a culture that loves happy endings. We spend our whole lives, dreaming, reading and watching happily ever after happen. That is where we live, in the paradox, life is so good and yet, so hard at times. What do we do when we get to the end and the happy ending isn’t there? Our biggest paradox came into play on one of the happiest days of our lives, ADOPTION DAY, May 12th 2016. We had a whole day planned of festivities and an entourage that would rival any pop star. We laughed, cried happy tears, celebrated and soaked in all of the love.
As we finished up our last round of fun, I got a call. You can always tell by the first word, when the worker has bad news, she hesitated for a moment and asked what I was doing. I sent the kids ahead into the house, sensing this was not a good call. Little One was asleep in the back, tuckered out from a full day of fun. The worker told me that tomorrow Little One would be doing a five day visit with birth mom (a sign that meant return was just around the corner), her first night away from us in six months. In one day the paradox burned brightly, I would say hello to my three beautiful forever children and goodbye to the fourth of our family.
My heart sunk, the lump grew and the tears came, all I could do was sob on the phone. We had such an emotional day celebrating a happy ending and within the same day the reality of our situation came into light, I am still a foster mom.
My heart broke for my three babies that would have to grieve their sister for a second time, I grieved for my Little One who knew me as her mama and adored her siblings, I grieved for birth mom and the chains of addiction and I grieved for my mama heart that didn’t think I could say goodbye again. I sat in the car, feeling the weight of this broken system, pleading with God to fix it all. My mind raced as I struggled to believe if reunification is “always” best. How can we in one day feel such joy and sorrow. How can I prepare us to say goodbye again?
Two and half years into my journey with foster care, I have not been able to settle on the answers. I have have heard countless accounts of people with stories likes ours and some even worse, it doesn’t make sense, not to my children and not to me. The challenge is instead finding the peace in it all, the confusion and unfairness of it will most likely never go away. What we can do is struggle to find the purpose in it all. I had a friend ask, if knowing what I know now the fact that Little One would leave our home for a second time, did I wish I didn't take her in? Not for one second. You see those 6 months were not wasted, they had purpose and just because I don’t like the ending it doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.
I wiped the tears away, took a deep breath and whispered, “it is well,” the mantra I claimed this year. I Opened the door and watched my Little One sleep. Her little chest rising and falling, her sweet little lips pursed and I ached. I didn’t want to move one step for I knew it would be one step closer to goodbye. So I stood there, soaking her in.
One of the struggles in parenting for me is when do you deliver bad news? When do I interrupt the giggles and pretend play to share the news that our baby is leaving...again? I wanted them to just have one day where they could not feel like foster kids, where they could just soak up all of the love. When I finally told them, they all looked at me and said “okay, will she be back?” My heart broke, “no, she won’t be.” They all just sat there and accepted what I said, I am afraid my babies are getting used to losing people they love, that is a great tragedy.
Foster care is broken, from the beginning, kids are supposed to be raised by their parents. It is not one person’s fault, the world is doing the best they can. It is hard to create health in something that is a born from a broken place.
I want to hope that the system will change and become better but I am skeptical. I have discovered that maybe it is less about the system changing and more about me changing? Life is filled with moments that show us what exactly we are capable of doing. In hindsight, we find that we are thankful for them, because no matter how hard they teach us something. My hard moments have taught me to love fully, without walls or guards. To fully expect the ache and hurt. I have discovered that loving these babies well, is what they deserve. So, I will continue to open my heart and my home to the ones who need love the most and expect it to hurt.
The Paradoxes I’ve found in my experience with foster care:
Children leave safe, loving homes and are placed in unfit homes.
Children at the end of the day are pawns in the game of getting parents to change.
Siblings are left to grieve the loss of each other.
The back and forth and emotional toll of these kids is great.
The desire to love fully, knowing it will hurt.
The expectation to love the children as your own but realize at the end of the day you have no control or say in what happens.
Explaining to your three older children why their birth mom gets the baby but not them.