When people find out I am a foster parent, the number one response I get is, “I could never do that. I would love them too much and I would die if they were taken from me. How can you possibly do that?”
To be honest, I feel the exact same way. Every time a baby enters our home, we fall in love and attach as if the child were our own flesh and blood. No matter how long they stay, they are part of our family. They deserve that. They deserve someone to love them and cherish them. They deserve someone to attach to them and bond with them instead of merely a babysitter, someone watching them and just passing time until they leave. When each baby leaves, the grief is real. It’s real, and it’s deep and it hurts. In foster care, sometimes the baby leaving is not in the best interest of the child. Many times, children are returned to the birth parents, only to be abused and removed again. Other times, the child being returned home is the very best thing-a family is reunited and can start the healing process. In either circumstance, there is grief and a loss.
Foster parents are not some robots lacking emotion, able to detach and simply care for a child without feeling bonded to them. They just choose to not let the fear of loss paralyze the call to action. I look at our sweet adopted children and I can’t help but be overcome with emotion. What if I had said no? What if my fear of loss was so great, that I never took the risk? I can’t even imagine our life without them. Even more so, I can’t let my brain wander to where they would be if they hadn’t been adopted. Even for our shelter babies that do not stay, we go through the loss with each one.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a foster parent. Adoptive parent, yes, but foster parent? No way, too much risk. But now as I reflect over the past 7 years of foster care and adoption, I can see the beautiful story that has been woven into our hearts. The sweet babies that have forever been etched into our memories. The ones that have stayed, the ones that left. I know for a fact that though the risk is great, the blessing is even greater. My life has forever been changed by each sweet babe that has entered our home. In the words of a friend, “If it’s a day or forever, I’ll love you just the same”.