Zachary’s painting hangs in the hall with my other kids’ artwork. He has a baby box and photo albums and ornaments on my Christmas tree. Zachary lived with us for 13 months and 2 days. He came to us as a 2 year old underdeveloped, abused, neglected, terrified child. He had sorrow in his eyes like I’ve only ever seen in the very old or very broken. And he changed us forever.
After he left, I cycled the grief through so many explanations: this was the fault of man, it was God’s will, it was a tragedy, it was a purposeful path, it meant nothing good, it meant exactly what it was supposed to, it was my fault- it was because I wasn’t a good enough mom that he had to go, etc. Where I ended is where I’ve ended with a lot of things over these last couple years: I don’t know. I don’t have the answers for why we got to adopt Adam but had to say goodbye to his half-brother. I can give all the facts of the family dynamics and the reasons I was given- but as to why- I just don’t know.
It’s been 10 years since all of that. 10 whole years. And we have just come to the point of healing enough and stability enough to say we are strong enough to do it all again. We only had four placements before and so I always hate to sound like I know it all about this. I really don’t. I bet a million things have changed since we adopted Adam and closed our home to placements to heal and build our family and grieve Zachary. I don’t know much. And every child’s situation variables make all cases different. What I do know is that we are a little nervous and a little hopeful and a little excited all at once.
Foster parenting is very hard. Sometimes you have a kid who loves water in the sink but is terrified of the bathtub. To the point of hysteria and biting and fighting to not have to take a bath. Sometimes they scream-cry themselves to sleep for 67 days no matter what you do. And around day 32 you wonder if you’re crying too because you’re tired or if it’s really because their broken heart is breaking yours in two. Sometimes they have broken bones and you think how you’ve never imagined someone could look at a child with those big eyes and twist their arm until it cracked and you have nightmares imagining it after seeing the bruises and the bandages. Sometimes they can’t speak and they don’t understand that you want to know what they think because maybe no one has thought to ask them before. Sometimes they’re so hungry and even after they aren’t hungry anymore, they’re afraid you’ll forget to feed them tomorrow and they make themselves sick gorging and hoarding food just in case. Sometimes they’ve never been down a slide before- or on a swing. Sometimes they stare at you while you read a story for the 12th time with awe and love and you hope you’ve gained their trust but you know you’ll probably just have to start over tomorrow again showing them you’re safe. Sometimes you sit in a room with their family members who brag about how wonderful they are and you are internally screaming remembering the fear that child had when you dropped them off at their visit and the four days after the visit when they scratched and screamed and sobbed in confusion. Sometimes you also want to parent the parents and teach them all the things and fix all the situations. But you’re just a few people trying to change the whole world….and taking a great risk.
Because foster kids require great risk. The greatest risk I think; to love as a parent and lose a child graciously. To love as a parent and have zero control over what happens to their life. To love as a parent and not know if you’ll still see them tomorrow.
But love is always a risk. And that same risk is present in all our relationships we just don’t think of it the same. Tomorrow isn’t promised for any of my kids- or me- and howmuch am I truly in control of? The risk that is always required with love is worth the risk.
And don’t these kids deserve that same big, conditional, overwhelming love we all want and need?
So even though you all want to say (and some have) you guys are crazy. And even though you’re thinking about us having 5-6 kids in a 3 bedroom house. And even though you’re looking at my old minivan and wondering if I wouldn’t just rather have a nicer car instead…….You can just pray for us. You can just support us with love and good thoughts and, boy, do we love getting cards in the mail that say things like “you can do this!” You can come and hug the kiddos that come to live with us and show them that people are good and do puzzles with them and run around the backyard and read books. You can be grateful you have people and be people to some young ones who need us all. You can just smile and nod your head and pretend you don’t think we are crazy (okay, really we don’t care- we are kind of crazy). But as long as you do it with love, that works for us.
There are a million questions that go with this guys, I know. Do we hope to adopt again? (YES!) Are we worried about our kids? (Yes. We are going to be as careful with the risk as we can be.) Where will you put another kid? (Haha) Do you have carseats and stuff? (Not yet. Got some you’re selling?) Are you gonna keep homeschooling? (Of course.) How old will the placements be?………so, feel free to message me and ask me. I don’t have all the answers though yet, haha.
What we do know: we start our training classes this week that are required for certification. And should everything go well reopening our home, we will have our homestudy following that, and begin taking placements in the Spring. We have some bunk beds to build (are you good at that, wanna come help?) and some room changes to make. We have some items to gather and some decisions to make.
A little nervous and a little excited and a little hopeful. That’s us.