My favorite day of the year is Mother’s Day. I love being a mom. When I was just a little girl, I knew God’s calling for my life was to be a Mother. I didn’t know that His plan for me was to love and nurture and welcome children into my home that were not mine. I have three boys of my own and two that were mine but for a moment. One was in my care on Mother’s Day. My first time with of foster care and Mother’s Day. The other came to me in June.
Our First Placement
Our first placement was an adorable four4-year-old boy with the biggest, softest brown eyes you can imagine. Doe eyes, my mom called them. Eyes that dared you not to fall in love with him, yet eyes that you knew instantly had seen and known too much pain. From the moment I met him, I knew he was meant to be a part of my family.
But nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for how quickly my heart was broken wide open. What do you say? How do you respond when a child you have known for exactly two minutes looks into your eyes and asks if he can stay forever? He knew nothing about me or my home, and he wanted to stay? Forever? Or when, after less than two months of being in my home, decided to tell me that from now on, “you are my mommy.”
How do you respond when you know that you are not his permanent home? He did not understand the difference between adoption and fostering. All he knew is that for the first time, he felt safe, he felt loved, and he felt seen. And when their heart is so hungry for those things, they attach to you without question, without reason. And in those moments, you are tempted to close your heart; to not get attached because the pain when he leaves will hurt too much.
Love and Let Go
I know you are wondering how do I love a child so freely that isn’t mine and won’t be mine? I get it. It is something I ask myself every single time the phone rings. The thought of loving and becoming attached to a child that isn’t yours for a week, a few months, or even a year and then letting them go? Who would knowingly sign up for that?
But, I’ll tell you a secret: I can’t do it. Most times, I don’t want to. I am afraid every single day for my heart and the hearts of my family. The uncertainty is crippling, and the fears and doubts are overwhelming at times. But to be able to love a child, to give them the safety and security, and to teach them that they are WORTHY? That is what drives me forward, makes me brave, and keeps me coming back for more.
Saying Goodbye vs Being Alone
Saying goodbye hurts. More than you can possibly imagine. But it is not the worst thing. The worst thing is a child taken from their home holding only a small trash bag with their belongings inside. A teenager is sleeping at the DHS building, waiting for a family to say yes. A baby, alone in a hospital nursery without a mother to hold her. Siblings separated and driven, alone, to different homes for the first time.
These are very real scenarios that happen every day in every city in this country. These kids need us to say yes because they are living in a situation, not of their choosing. They need a mother that is willing to sign herself up for heartbreak, say yes, and love those babies with everything she’s got.
Foster Care is for Those Who Will Get Attached
You see, being a Christian is about more than going to church on Sunday, paying your tithe, doing your best, and going to heaven when we die. That’s not what Jesus wants from us. I believe we are to live out the Gospel NOW. To be Jesus “with skin on.”
It will hurt. You will get too attached. But dare I say, you MUST. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. Foster care isn’t for those who won’t get too attached- it is for those who WILL. These kids need love far more than you need to protect your heart.
“So how do you, as a Mother, love a child that isn’t your own” you may ask. Especially on Mother’s Day, when your child in foster care wants nothing more than to be yours forever? My answer is, you love them exactly the same as if they were your own. Sounds difficult? Darn near impossible? It is, but it CAN be done.
So, on this Mother’s Day and in this month of Foster Care Awareness, I humbly ask you to prayerfully consider giving your heart to a child that so desperately needs it. You won’t be sorry. Not for a moment. The love you will get back in return will far outweigh the temporary heartbreak.
“Anyone who ever wondered how they could love a child who did not spring from their loin, know this: it is the same. The feeling of love is so profound, it is incredible and surprising.” -Nia Vardalos