Mother’s Day just passed and I always think about my boys’ birth mom. My heart aches for all that she has endured. They say there is nothing more painful than losing a child. And she lost two.
For a time, her story and mine collided. I met her standing in the lobby of a Child Protective Services office with her children in my arms. Her babies were handed over to me a few weeks prior. Can you imagine having CPS or police take your children away and deliver them to an unknown location with unknown people?! It breaks my heart. The unknown of their whereabouts and how they are doing would be crushing.
Early on, my interactions with her were of course…AWKWARD! Picture this – here I am a brand new mom, brand new wide-eyed, naïve foster parent, trying to figure out how to get this woman to like me, trust me, and know that I’m on her side. Thanks to the letter writing a relationship began to form. Quickly, I picked up on the fact that was she was seeking guidance, mentorship, and friendship.
- Yes, it is the strangest thing to be “momming” someone else’s children 24/7.
- Yes, it is very hard to figure out how to take care of them blind with no ability to ask birth mom what they like/don’t like in the beginning.
- Yes, since J (almost 3yo) had nearly no words he called me “Mama” and her “Mommy” which became completely normal for all of us.
- Yes, it’s complicated to love a child “all-in” knowing they are leaving but if you put the child and their parents ahead of yourself, it’s really very simple. It’s the Gospel.
- Yes, loving people that did harm to the children you love is tough, but not impossible.
After months into this process I finally had the opportunity to sit face-to-face with her. I did my best to learn as much as I could about her, to try to understand her, and to find out what happened to their family. As I listened to her tell her story I had a wide-eyed moment of, “her and I live in completely different worlds!” COMPLETELY. And yet we don’t look all that different. Prior to this moment I had not known anyone personally that lived (not even paycheck-to-paycheck) day-to-day in regards to money and food. Questions like the following were their normalcy: Do we have enough money today to eat tomorrow? Do we have money to put gas in the car? Which gas station or fast food joint should we eat our next meal (every meal!)? It was in this moment, I realized I was different. I realized how extremely privileged I had been to have grown up in a stable, two-parent, middle-class home where not once has money ever been a concern. My heart wanted to rescue her too! And boy did I try.
The year the boys had two moms was definitely messy. But that is foster care. Foster care is unpredictable, ugly, and heartbreaking. In many ways it doesn’t work at all but in many more ways it does. Despite the horror stories you hear, children do get rescued. But I will always stand by the fact that the cycle doesn’t end with rescuing the children. The cycle ends when the birth parents are rescued and restored. And this still remains a huge gap in our society and culture. These young parents need us more than ever. They need our example, our guidance, our strength and our hope. If Jesus can believe in you, can’t you believe in them? It’s likely they have never had anyone believe in them or love them properly. It’s likely they grew up neglected, around drugs, alcohol, dysfunction, and trauma. They are just grown up versions of these foster kids.
I always wonder when our family will grow without me knowing. Maybe it already has. My boys could have siblings or half-siblings born anytime, anywhere. During this season our families are not one. I made that choice when I decided to adopt so that J and X could heal from the traumatic years they lived through. At this point, the story is about what is best for them and at their tender young ages, I still believe that consistency, love, and stability is best for them. I share photos with their birth parents and keep them updated on how they’re doing. And one day I hope there is a beautiful reunification so that J and X can know them.
One last thing, I often hear people (both kids and adults) ask, “why didn’t they want them?” or say “I can’t believe they didn’t want them.” Please don’t say this. Please don’t let your kids hear you say this. My children were wanted. My children were loved as well as their parents could. She loved them dearly. Her choices were the best she was able to make at the time. She tried. But ultimately she failed. This is the reality of foster care.
#fostercareawareness #thisisfostercare #mamalisafosters #frontlinesoffostercare