My life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately, to say the least.
Recently, I was asked to take a little boy into my care for an indefinite amount of time. Although my professional life has been excessively demanding lately, I was excited for the opportunity to have another child in my life. Sweet Pea’s visits with her mom have been increasing over the past few months, so I felt that I was ready to welcome another child into my home.
This adorable little boy was quite the challenge, but one I willingly accepted. He had a very difficult time effectively communicating so there were some initial frustrations, but we quickly began to understand each other. Unlike when a child is placed with a foster parent on respite (very short-term care, typically a weekend), it was expected that this little guy was going to be with me for some time. Because of that, I was looking forward to spending an extended amount of time with him to continue to make progress on his speech and basic skills that were not developed appropriately for his age.
Then completely out of left field, I received a message from his case worker on Monday preparing me to say goodbye to him that same afternoon. It had been determined that he would be returned to his biological father who does not live in the area.
Insert uncontrollable sobbing.
As I began packing up his belongings, I started to convince myself that I was not cut out for this. My mission as a foster parent is to positively affect a child’s life and develop a relationship with their parents so that the reunification becomes seamless. How was I supposed to do that when I was sending this child to someone I had never met? How was I supposed to trust that he was going to be properly cared for when I had yet to establish a positive rapport with his father?
I looked over my car filled with the toys that we played with together, the books that I read him, the stuffed animals that he slept with at night, and felt the heaviest weight of resentment fall onto me. I resented the judge for making this decision, I resented the case workers for allowing it (although I know it’s not their choice), and I resented the system for creating situations like this.
I pulled into the parking lot at DSS to say goodbye to my little buddy and caught a glimpse of his father. Although I had never seen him before, I knew exactly who he was based off from some striking characteristics that the case worker had used to describe him.
My judgmental instincts took over and I cringed at the thought of this child going back to him. His disheveled appearance, excessive tattoos, and tough demeanor made me assume he was incapable of being a successful parent. I ignored him as I walked by and waited inside DSS for his child and case worker to arrive. Shortly after, he walked in and waited near me. I avoided his eyes so he couldn’t see my tears and I attempted to pull myself together.
As I stood there feeling sorry for myself and wondering why God was testing me in this way, a thought occurred to me: I need to give him the ability to contact me. Without hesitation, I turned to the desk behind me and wrote down my name and phone number.
Hiding my intimidation, I approached the man that stood before me – a man whose path I never would have crossed had it not been for his little boy; a man I had written off as incapable simply because of his appearance; a man that I knew nothing about. I introduced myself and gave him the note. When our eyes met, I sensed a kindness that I never would’ve expected.
The gratitude that he then expressed for the concern that I had for his child brought me back to tears. He wrote down his name and number, vowing to keep in touch. I was ashamed for the judgement that I had initially passed.
Since that day, we have spoken regularly and I have been thrilled to hear how well the transition is going. I miss the little guy like crazy, but it’s clear to me that he is where he is meant to be.
Similarly, Sweet Pea’s mom was granted full-time care over our little girl on Tuesday. It breaks my heart to not brush my teeth next to her in the mornings, to not hear her sweet voice throughout my house, and to not get her butterfly kisses when I tuck her into bed at night, but I know she is where she is meant to be.
I am heavy-hearted over the amount of loss that I have experienced this week and lonely beyond belief. What is keeping me going is my faith in God’s plan for who he decides to put in my life next. It is clear to me that those who are no longer in my life have made room for someone who needs me more.