It’s 11:30 at night and I’m trying to soothe a baby who does not want to be soothed. As he screams and struggles to get rid of the gas bubbles that are bothering his belly, I have tears dripping down my cheeks. We knew that foster care can be a crazy road, but tonight? My tears mingled with his as I contemplated that we might have to say goodbye to this precious babe.
Fast forward 4 days and our case worker stops by for her monthly visit. She had a new case worker with her who immediately got pulled into a conversation with our girls about American Girl dolls and Legos. While the kids were distracted I had a chance to get caught up on Baby I’s case – which has been the most convoluted case we have ever, ever had. For the first time she actually had some good news, and we got a glimmer that his case might not go on forever. Of course, like all foster care cases, until the papers are signed it’s never official and all bets are off.
The night that I cried with Baby I was probably the lowest I have been in our foster care journey. It’s so difficult when you are caring for a child and you want the best for that child and you have no power over that child’s situation. For a Type A person like me, it’s been a battle that I’ve lost more than a few times in the last few months.
Reunification is the goal of foster care. They drummed that into us in our first training, and every time we questioned a decision for any of our little placements we were reminded the same thing. At times the system makes me want to scream and cry in frustration. I’ve dreamed about getting a one on one audience with a judge and asking them WHY they rule the way they do when their decisions seem to make no sense.
Every time I look at this little babe, I’m reminded that he doesn’t belong to us. In time, we are hopeful that he will become a permanent part of our family, but right now that isn’t the case. Instead he belongs to 2 bio parents who are alternately absent and selfish, who jump in and out of his life as they see fit simply because they can. They are protected by any number of laws that give them the rights of a fit parent…..and yet the state has deemed them unfit, which is why this babe is in the foster system. The way we go round and round is enough to make me crazy and wonder why I ever thought I could handle being a foster parent.
I’ve had to do some deep soul searching while we struggle with Baby I’s case, and more than once we have been tempted, very tempted to call the case worker and give in. Yet just as I reach my breaking point, somehow He grabs me, wraps me in His arms and I’m able to hang on just a little bit more. It’s humbling to type these words, since I get emails and messages weekly about how much we have helped others decide to become foster parents, and right now I’m not sure I want to be a foster parent anymore.
And that scares me. We said yes to this babe in July – and every day that he is with us further cements our bond with him. It scares me that some judge who doesn’t know him might decide to send him with his bio parents because it looks good on paper. It scares me that after months of fighting for this child to have therapy, tests and evaluations to give him the best start possible we might never see the end result. It scares me that my children, who are attached and call this babe “brother” will have to say goodbye.
We could give in to the fears that, given any encouragement could consume us. It would be so, so easy to walk away right now and go back to our little family of five. Life would certainly be simpler without all his therapy appointments, or worrying about visits, or dealing with all the crazy the bio parents bring. Yes, we certainly could give into that fear and walk away.
Or, we could press on, secure in the knowledge that God has a unique plan for this sweet babe, just as He has an amazing plan for each of us. We can start each day with a prayer covering our days, asking for mercy and grace, that truth will be shown and that plans will be reveled not in our time, but in His.
And so, like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that…..today we woke up and said yes again. We made a promise to this babe 7 months ago, and we will continue to honor that promise by clinging to grace and hope and courage. We have been assured that we do not walk alone, and that is what is what gives us the courage to journey on.