***The images in this post are quotes and scriptures that have resonated with my soul as my husband and I came to do the decision to be foster parents.***
It's not often that you stand at the brink of a new relationship and know it's going to end in pain. I don't think humans are engineered for that. Unless there's significant trauma, I don't believe that we go into a relationship believing the other person is going to leave us, or hurt us, or that it will end in heartache. And yet, that's where I am today. It's the Saturday before Mother's Day, and I have "all the feels" as they say, but mostly the uncomfortable ones.
My husband and I are going through foster training. We started our journey just a few months ago, bright eyed and full of optimism and hope. We stand to complete our training and (hopefully) be ready for placements by August. And yet here, on the brink of Mother's Day, I'm questioning. Questioning what next Mother's Day will look like. How many children will I have loved and said good bye to by that point? How many little ones will steal my heart, and then return home? The thought crossed my mind the other day that this is my last "normal" Mother's Day. It's my last Mother's Day as a Mama to just two beautiful girls that I birthed. The rest of "my" children are either in utero, or in a home that may be neglecting or abusing them. And that is heart wrenching.
I also think about their mothers. I think about how some Mama out there knows she's pregnant, but her inner pain is so deep that she can't resist the siren song of drugs or alcohol. I think about the Mama who knows she's pregnant and feels completely incapable of taking care of a little one. I think of the Mama who desperately wants her children, but poverty means she has to work double shifts, at the risk of neglecting those same children. I think of the Mama who has lived through horrific abuse herself and knows no other way to exist than to try to displace her own shame onto her children. I think of the Mama who sits in jail, unable to see her babies, but loving them so much it hurts. It's their Mother's Day too, a day filled with pain and heartache, insecurity and instability.
And I wonder...is my heart strong enough? Have I recovered enough from my own struggles to be able to walk beside these hurting families? Will I survive letting go when everything in me screams to hold on? Can I truly have open hands, an open table and an open heart?
I don't really have answers. And that's a hard thing for me to accept. I'm an idealist, and I want to believe the idea that the kids coming into our care will be just like our own, it's just their parents that are screwed up. I want to believe they won't have major behavioral problems, or physical remnants of prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. I want to believe they'll attach easily and it'll be only mildly uncomfortable to release them back into their capable parents' arms. But all of that is just the ideal. It's not reality. As that understanding deepens, my heart starts leaping in my chest and asking my brain, "Are you sure about this? Are you sure we're tough enough for this?" And when those questions get overwhelming, I have to do the only thing I know to do: pray. Pray for them to be safe, and pray for me to brave.
So I stand on this side of the pain, on this side of the heartache and I still say yes. I still say yes because I feel His heartbeat every time I think of a child who feels unwanted, unloved, and unseen. I feel His heartbeat every time I think of a mother and father who desperately love their children, but are incapable of giving them what they need. I feel His heartbeat every time I think of the Mama who is drowning in her own pain and pulling her children under the current with her. And I say yes, even if it means my own heart must break in the process. Maybe it's in the breaking that we become whole together.
I plan to write more extensively about our foster care journey as we progress through it. May I ask a favor? Please keep our family in your prayers. This is a scary journey, but one we feel called to and we covet your prayer covering for us, our bio children, our extended family and friends, and the children and families we are called to love.