Friday, February 17, 2012

Foster Care Ponderings: Part 2, Our Story

Years from now, when we're done fostering I know I'll be able to vividly remember the feelings that rush through me each time we leave a hospital with someone else's baby.

Excitement!  This is what we're made to do.  We're off on a big adventure.  This should be pretty fun.  We're helping a really bad situation get better.  Who doesn't love babies?

Sadness.  We've just left a hospital with someone else's baby.  That means there is a mommy and daddy somewhere nearby without THEIR baby.  That means we have a baby in our car who is being separated from the most important person/people in it's little life.  To that baby, to those parents, we are not heroes.  We are just strangers. 

Dread.  Let's be honest.  Taking care of babies is not easy.  I'm a nurse, so we take "medically fragile" babies.  That could mean a baby that is born addicted to drugs, it could mean a preemie who doesn't feed well.  It could mean a baby with a head get the picture.  I'll be perfectly transparent here and say I have often left a hospital with a baby, got in the car and thought "What have we done?  How are we going to do this?  We are gluttons for punishment."  Apparently dread isn't the emotion that wins out....because we keep on taking those babies!  :) 

Determination.  I'm excited by a challenge.  I like doing things that look difficult, and succeeding.  I like puzzles.  I like figuring out what makes a baby tick.  It's the competitor in me I guess.  "Gosh darn it I WILL get you to gain weight or I'll die trying!"  I like taking a broken, tiny, helpless baby and seeing him or her transform before our very eyes to a smiling, chubby, babbling little person.  There's no feeling like it.  I'm a fixer, Jed's a shepherd- so I tackle the practical, medical side of things and Jed provides the heavy dose of lovin' with a cherry on top.

When we got the call to take baby #1, who we'll call Baby Y, months earlier than we had planned and left the hospital with her we felt all of those emotions.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the car with her while Jed drove- just like we did with each of our biological kids.  I also remember she screamed the WHOLE WAY HOME.  Ha!  Any sense of heroism or romanticism flew out the window about 20 miles down the freeway. 

I've heard from many different foster parents that your first placement (foster child) is special.  I'll have to agree.  Baby Y holds a very special place in our hearts, as do each of our babes.  But there is just something extra special about your first.  We learned with Baby Y what it feels like to love a baby so much it hurts, and at the same time know deep down she belongs to someone else.  Her beautiful cheeks, her smell, everything about her will forever be imprinted in my mind.  She was our first love.   

That foster babe love is a hard thing to describe.  The number one line I've heard from others when they hear we're foster parents is "I could never do that.  I could never give them back.  That would be so hard."  Let me tell you something.  It IS so hard.  It is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  But that's what these babies, these children need.  They need someone who will love them till it hurts and keep on loving, all the while KNOWING that you have to give them back.  Are you kidding me?  Of course it hurts when they leave.  To me, at different times it has felt like a death.  Most of the time we know we will never see that child again.  Like Baby G, one of our boys.  We had him for the first 4 months of his life.  We picked him up straight from the hospital.  We swaddled him and walked him at night while he shook from withdrawals.  We were there to see his first smile, to give him his first "at-home" bath.  We were his world, and he was our sweet little boy, and then "poof" he was out of our lives and we've never heard about him again.  I know he will probably never know about us, but we will never forget him.  He is a part of our story forever.  So, yes, we mourn when they leave.  We cry, we talk, we cry some more.  We find a teeny stray sock in the wash and we cry some more.  We have pity parties and watch sad movies alone in the dark on the couch (okay, so yes, I did that once....not a moment I'm proud of...anyway....)  I always think somehow it should be easier because we always know it's coming.  But it's never easier, not if you've loved them right.  


"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
 Alfred Lord Tennyson



  1. I'm so glad you are doing this series! Thank you for sharing your lives with these children and your hearts with these readers. Any chance you'd be okay with me posting this on our website Billy

    1. Sure Billy, go for it! Thanks for all you do to encourage and support. We really really appreciate you.

  2. Oh Kim I am so glad yu are writing this all out. Everything you are writhing is exactly how we feel... Everything you write feels like someone telling the story of my heart aches and happiness of fostering. I am goad that at this point we have our forever kids and I love love love knowing they won't just disappear after a phone call... The stray sock comment pretty much sums up the loss of a little moving on...

  3. Wow. That was very moving. So real and well expressed. You are angels to these little ones. God has equipped you in a way that only He could.

  4. Thanks for sharing your heart with us! But most of all for allowing yourselves to LOVE those babies so much, as if they were your own...without hesitation. Especially knowing you have to give them back. So many people aren't willing to take that kind of risk with the heart...but the fact that you are willing to give of yourselves (and I know you and Jed don't hold back) KNOWING that part of your heart leaves with that child each time all because you know that child needs/deserves that love...that kind of selflessness is indescribably beautiful. And I adore the fact that precious Addie, Ezra and Havalah are just as willing to love the children that come into the family. I praise God for what he is doing through you all!!

  5. Thank you for this series. Keep them coming!


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