Our first foster case ended with a beautiful reunification.
Mom worked the plan. The plan worked.
It was an emotional escapade that had its fair share of curve balls but in the end, on the day we drove her home, we felt like we finished well. Like what we had given her was our best. Our love was authentic and our work was complete.
No one warned me of the other ending.
I remember my first other with vivid color. I sat on my striped loveseat with a packed suitcase by my front door, windows open, as my eyes frequently darted to the driveway anticipating the arrival of the case worker’s car.
He was with us for a few short months and every day felt like new, unfamiliar battle. He was only two. Who couldn’t love a precious, abandoned two-year-old?
I’ll tell you who, ME.
The sound of his feet shuffling down the hall in his footed pajamas every morning caused my shoulders to shrink up and the tension to skyrocket. It’s also to important to note he normally found me before my first sips of coffee. That’s no safe place for a kid to be.
He was hard to love.
And when he left, I felt like someone had written an enormous X over our time together. All of the hours were saturated with struggle.
I was new in my foster journey and learning to function with a kid from a hard place took its toll on me. I struggled to understand development and attachment and all that comes with broken kids.
I thought it would be so easy to love a foster.
But he showed me that’s not always true.
That was years ago, but here I am again.
I’m nearing the end to a case that’s been so heavy with heartache. I’m so ready for these kids to go. I’m so ready for a break. These months have dragged on and drained so much of me.
I said YES when I didn’t know what YES held in the hidden spaces of its bold proclamation.
And it held pain.
And emotional highs and a whole lot of lows.
In its grip was frustration and fear.
No one told me it would be this way.
No one talked about the seemingly impossible attachment process with some kids.
No one except me. Because I’ve been here before.
A few weeks or just a few months is nowhere near enough time to fight through the overgrown fields of injustice and suffering endured by these kids. That healing can take a lifetime and sometimes, foster mama friend, you only have days.
I’ve felt all the defeat and all of the failure.
And there are moments when I realize I haven’t run the race well. I’ve let fear win and kept my love on a short string, quickly yanking it back into my traumatized heart with every demanding cry and tantrum and rude glance my way.
Soon these kids will leave and I’ll be left broken and bruised. Because that’s what can happen when you invite trauma in.
But don’t think for a moment that’s where this story ends.
Because the God that I know is a God of redemption.
He heals what we give him and mends what we mangle and he writes a new story even when we think we’re finished.
Don’t let failure reign as it stakes its claim on this ending.
You keep saying yes because the story’s not over, you just walked in on the darkest page.