Updated: Nov 24, 2021
It’s 4AM and by the glow of the nightlight in our nursery I am rocking our current foster baby back to sleep. Our blog has been quiet lately, and all for good reason. The last few months of our foster to adopt journey have been a rollercoaster to say the least. With all of the ups and downs that Mike and I have experienced, for the moment I am feeling peace. There’s something about the upcoming holidays and having a child in our home who we can experience several “firsts” with, well, it’s really a joyous time to have a baby. Listening to lullaby music, rocking gently in the rocker, stroking this baby’s head, I’ve never experienced a love like this.
I know many wonder, how can you love a child that’s not your own? How can you NOT love a child that needs you? When they look at you and smile or laugh, or you experience a milestone first with that child, each of those moments cause your heart to fall deeper in love. Our first foster care experience this past summer, truth be told, was a time that tested everything Mike and I believed in life. We welcomed a child into our home, full of hope and promise that if we loved them with all we had, then we could overcome any obstacle that faced this child. Our first foster care experience was a brief one, but one that made a huge impact on our lives. While in our care, this child developed a medical diagnosis that likely went undiagnosed for months due to lack of medical care and neglect. Mike and I were thrown into this diagnosis head on, wide eyed and devastated all at once as our first hopeful foster care experience quickly dissipated into making the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make in our lives. While we loved this little one, stayed with him in the hospital until our very last moments with him, we made the decision to find a different foster family that was better suited for him and able to give him all of the care he would need. When we made this decision together, the hardest part was judging ourselves for the decision that we knew was right for our family. Each conversation we had with a social worker, state worker, doctor or nurse was a compassionate one. Every time we spoke about what we were dealing with we were met with love and compassion. The hardest part was accepting what we knew was right for our family all while fighting with our consciousness that kept telling us we were giving up on this child.
I remember meeting this child’s new foster family and the foster mom holding this child that we loved so deeply – and embracing her. We were moving on from this experience in such a short amount of time…the next chapter for this child was already being written. As Mike and I said our private goodbye, gave our last hugs and kisses, we left the hospital. As we walked down the hallway of all of the incredible doctors and nurses that were caring for this child, tears in our eyes, each one of them thanked us for that we did and met us with LOVE. Can you imagine that with any situation in life, if we were all just a little bit more compassionate and loving towards one another, what a better place this world will be? That perhaps if we were kinder, less judgmental and more loving then there wouldn’t as great of need for foster families in this world? Our first foster care experience was a deeply personal and humbling journey. It was also filled with fear, adrenaline and so many tears. It’s an experience we won’t soon forget, and we are so grateful to have forged a supportive relationship with this child’s current foster family.
The next few months were filled with some dark days. Truth be told, Mike and I processed these days very differently. We immediately started receiving referral calls for different foster situations. Some calls were for one child, some for twins, multiple for sibling groups. And each call, we said no. The guilt we felt in saying no, but also knowing we just weren’t ready to welcome another child into our home yet was difficult to process. It felt like we were mourning the death of a child – but we knew, deep down, that there would be better days ahead.
Fast forward to mid-October and receiving the call for our current foster situation – we said yes and welcomed a little one into our home. This foster care experience has been a completely different and unique process, as is any foster care experience. You can’t compare foster experiences, they are all unique in their own ways. Our first few weeks were filled with feedings, diaper changes, sleepless nights, working, trying to find a daycare and an exhaustion we had never really experienced in life (and this is coming from someone who has a sleep disorder!!) This foster care experience we’ve been more cautious in telling people. We are constantly reminding people we know that right now, this is only temporary. That we are here to take care of this baby for however long we are meant to take care of them. While it is our hope, one day, to adopt, foster care is just temporary in most cases. This is the hardest part to explain about the foster care experience – It. Is. Only. Temporary. We even need to remind ourselves of that simple fact – we are here with this child for a season. While we’ve experienced two court hearings, and have a third scheduled for a few days before Christmas – this is still just temporary for now. Each day needs to be its own journey. Each day we need to still be filled with hope for the best possible outcome for this child – whether it’s reunification with family, or a more permanent placement for our family.
And while we are in the thick of it, experiencing firsts with an infant, trying to create a new normal routine, setting up family time with biological family, social worker visits, court hearings, and communications on this beautiful baby – we are doing our best to give this child EVERYTHING we have. And while some days are hard, and some days are joyful and some days you don’t know how to keep going – we just do. We keep going because every child deserves every ounce of love we can give them.