Someone asked me today, “How’s it going being a foster parent?”
I kind of chuckled and looked out the window as I tried to think of something to say. Because of all days to be asked that question, today was not the right day.
After a moment, I turned back and said, “This is the hardest but also the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.”
It’s hard because despite my best efforts, I’ve started thinking about ‘tomorrow’ in the sense that I wondering if Little Man will someday be taller than my husband. Or if he’ll play basketball or football. Or what his voice will sound like as an adult. Only to walk into a visit to see the woman who carried him inside her, birthed him, and cared for him for three months. I watch her rush to get him in her arms, to smooch his squishy cheeks, to squeeze his luscious belly.
And I think back to four years ago, to the day I was waiting on a hospital bed for surgery so I could walk without pain, so I could live a normal life. And as time dragged on, how frustrated I got. How people kept asking the same questions, “When was your last period?”
Finally a nurse came up with something in her hand. She opened it to reveal three positive pregnancy tests. And I shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
To this day, I remember the burning, excruciating pain I was in, not thinking clearly, still begging for the surgery despite the knowledge of new life growing inside me.
I limped out of the hospital that day a Mom. My deepest desire had come true.
The weeks that followed brought physical, emotional, spiritual pain unlike any I’ve ever experienced before or since. And suddenly, I knew what it was like to be a mother missing her child, seeing a world of dreams and possibilities ripped from my hands. Screaming at God, “How dare you!” Our baby, our Glory, was gone and I was left recuperating from major emergency abdominal surgery & still in immobilizing, excruciating pain from my herniated back and devastatingly heartbroken.
I got caught up in dreaming about her future. Would she have my blond hair or her dad’s brown? My green eyes or his gorgeous blue eyes? Would she be short like me or tall and lanky like her dad?
And those dreams were ripped to shreds along with my Fallopian tube and any hope of ever carrying my own children again.
I dream for Little Man. I dream for us. But I do so with great amounts of fear and trepidation because I’ve dreamed great things before only to be left in their wake, heartbroken, shattered.
And I look at his mom, understanding just a little of what she is going through. The indescribable pain she feels at night when she can't lovingly spy on his sleeping form, or the emptiness she feels in her arms, or the sadness she must feel when she sees other moms with their little ones. Or how she must ache having to hand him off to me after her two hours are up.
It’s hard. So hard.
But it’s also beautiful.
I see beauty in how God has redeemed my pain. How he has used our loss to shape our hearts into being more compassionate. How he used Glory to make me a better mother to Little Man.
And there’s beauty in how I can look at his mom and see hope. And how that hope is continuous even through many let-downs and frustrations.
There’s beauty in the shared love we have for one little boy. In the excitement she exudes when she tells me little bits about her life, showing me pictures of her family.
There’s beauty in how I can thank her for bringing whatever she can to visits to provide for him. There’s beauty in her smile after a visit has gone well.
And hopefully, someday, I’ll see the beauty of Little Man going home to his mom, successfully reunited.
Just like you can’t know joy without knowing sadness, you can’t know foster care without knowing heartbreak. But you also can’t know foster care without the immense beauty.