Foster parents daily lives are lived in a place of losing our hearts to sticky little hands. Our “job” is to love them as if they are our own, while reminding ourselves they are not in fact ours. Before answering, I always hesitate a moment, that question is my reality check. I often get swept up in the beautiful chaos of our everyday lives that I forget these four little souls did not come from my womb. That question reminds me of my reality, the future with my babies is at the system’s mercy.
Each court hearing, moved TPR hearing and call for the return to a birth home are things we experience that remind us we aren’t living the fairy tale version. I have had to learn to find my peace in the midst of it all, my version of it is well. We are trained in foster parenting classes that reunification is the goal. While I see such value in keeping our children rooted to their biological family, it is a goal that is hard to reconcile in my heart.
Foster care is such a risk, the reality is that it hurts like hell. We hand out pieces of our hearts to these little ones to carry around, some for a week, others a year and some forever. We spend our time balancing ourselves between being in love, dealing with trauma triggered behaviors and the reality that our days together are numbered.
The risk is great, the ache is real but the reward is priceless. Nothing compares to the joy you feel when you see a little tattered soul come alive. Asking the question of whether we get to keep this one or not is not our question to answer. This reality keeps a lot of people away from the foster care system, the fear of it all feel too great.
These past three years I have learned that the goodbyes never get easier. It doesn’t matter if I have had them 7 days or 7 months, I hate goodbye, I grieve them leaving our home and dread the void left behind. That level of grief shows that I invested and poured in. Actually I don’t want to ever be okay with goodbye, keeping myself in that safety reveals, there is no risk in that.
I want to love this world well. I want to jump in with both feet and my heart, because these kiddos deserve that kind of love. They deserve to have people grieve when they leave, they deserve people who care enough about them to cry.
My heart will always want them to be forever in my home, it is how I am wired. Having to say those hard goodbyes and letting little ones come and go has taught me that what is left behind is more love. I don’t know if I will get to keep this one or what our future holds, that reality haunts me. What I do know is that a little dimply smile reminds me that every “yes” to them and for them matters.