I wrote the following two years ago, in the middle of Z transitioning to his bio family.
Today, two years later, I am meeting with his bio mom to drop off his photo book of his time with us, and an outfit for his Christmas gift.
At the time I wrote this … I could never have guessed all that would happen in our family in these last two years.
And I wasn’t sure if — and how — we would ever say hello.
Z is gone for a time, and I find myself with a quiet home. So much to do of course … Cleaning, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning… And yet my heart demands I just rest. Rest and process.
There is so much relief today, as I had feared court would be tomorrow, making today our final good-bye. And if you’ve kept up with the saga, you now know that we have just a few more weeks with Z.
I am oh-so thankful for the gift of time, but it also means that good-bye is still right around the corner. Several of you have told me, “I don’t know how you do it.” And can I just say, “I don’t know how to do it either!”
When we became foster parents, we didn’t have all the answers. It was like jumping into a giant vat of the unknown. You had no idea what this journey would demand of you, or throw at you, or GIVE you.
Because even in all the giving yourself, you are actually still GIVEN so much. We have received the love and delight of a baby boy we never would have met. God placed him in our lives for almost 17 months to love, and cherish, and nurture. And we received all the joy in knowing him.
How do you say “good-bye?”I have no idea.
Other than I do it a little bit at a time. The last time I bought diapers. The last play group. The last mom’s group with him in tow. The last time he sees a friend or family member. Good-byes happen every day it seems. All leading up to the one big good-bye.
And as I think through the one big good-bye, I am struck by how many other little good-byes still await us. How many other memories will pop up, and changes that will be made. Like the arrangement of car seats in the van. Or the fact that once he leaves, all of the kids will be potty trained. And for the first time in 7 years, I can retire the diaper bag. Little things that add up.
And my mind wonders of course to what’s next. Do we foster again? Do we open our family up to the joy, pain and tears of taking another vulnerable child, and say, “we are mom and dad, for as long as you need us?”
I can’t answer that. I think in my heart of hearts, I believe it to be the right thing to do. I think our family might make it all the way through this, see Jesus in it, and say yes.
But between now and then, there will be a whole lot of hurt and healing to go through.
There are times I wish I had lead a normal life. There are times I wish I could keep all my babies, plan pregnancies like normal people, say, “in such and such year, we’ll have four kids, 2 dogs and a fish, a mini-van, piano recitals and the once-a-year family vacation.” Yes, normal, how society defines it, beckons to me and says, “Don’t you want this? God took this away from you.” And If I were to be honest with everyone, yes, I do want it. (Minus the dogs. I don’t want dogs.)
I want to family plan, keep all my kids, and go from one normal thing to another.
But when I think of who gets to be close to God’s heart, it is those who have suffered. For crying out loud, I hate suffering. But I am grateful that in the midst of it, God himself holds me and comforts me, and gives me an extra measure of Him to make it through.
So when I cry out that I just want things to be normal, He gently reminds me that He has a purpose to all this. And that I would not be the person he has created me to be, unless I went through all this suffering to craft my heart and soul into the person he wants to use.
And He reminds me of the blessings I would have lost had I chose normal. Leyla. Z. The beauty of watching my kids love a stranger as their own brother. The depth of love they have for others. The gift of every laugh, every hug, every “Mommmmmmmmmmy,” when I come home.
For those of you suffering in some way this season, I hold on to the hope that God will show you his mercies new every morning, just as He is showing me. I pray that you can also hold on to hope for the redemption coming in every situation, no matter how dire. I pray that you would know in an intimate way that God is close to the broken-hearted.
And I hope that you would find the small gifts in this season. In every hurt, there is a gift tucked away somewhere. It might not feel worth the hurt to get to the gift, but I hope you (and I) can find both the gifts — and the gift-giver himself.
Two years out, and a whole lot of hurt and healing later, I can finally say our family made it all the way through this, saw Jesus in it, and said yes again.
We recently opened our home to foster care after a two-year break. Tonight we said hello to a 5-year-old and we’ll have her through the holidays.
Even if our road is short with her … her road will be long. Please pray for little K … for healing and wholeness and her family.
And still hoping and praying for you all — that in the midst of whatever hard you are feeling, you will find the gift — and the gift-giver — yourself.
From my heart to yours,