There’s a bittersweet feeling in my household tonight.
My little boy is sound asleep in bed. Clothes are in the dryer and the dishes are done. I’m relaxing on the couch with a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream while watching Shark Tank.
There’s no rap music blaring from a bedroom upstairs. No door alarms need to be set. There are no intruders sneaking into my home to see the teen.
For the first time in months, I am by myself.
That is because Wednesday, on her 18th birthday, the teen made the decision to sign herself out of foster care. Although she had the opportunity to continue to stay with me until she was as old as 21, she opted out. Instead, she has moved in with her boyfriend (of 3 weeks) and is determined to be an independent adult.
My feelings at this point are conflicted: I am certainly concerned, disappointed, and saddened by her choice, but at the same time, I am feeling a sense of relief in her absence.
I am no longer causing her unhappiness as the hindrance to her freedom. I am no longer stopping her from being where she wants to be. Although we met through “the system”, that is no longer what is tying us together. Instead, the trust, admiration, and respect she gained for me through my unconditional love during our time together is now maintaining our friendship.
Am I sad to see her go? Yes. But am I satisfied with the job that I did as her foster parent? Absolutely. I am content because she knows that no matter where her newfound freedom leads her, she will always have my support, love, and prayers. I trust that the advice I have given her thus far, and will continue to give her, will resonate and encourage her to make good choices as she embarks on this journey.
The outcome may not be exactly what I had hoped for, but clearly God had other plans for our existence in each other’s lives. Whatever that might be, I am thankful.