It is nights like tonight that my thoughts turn to parents who have lost their children to the foster care system. There’s not much special about tonight. In fact, it’s the ordinariness of the night that has my thoughts turning to the parents who are not caring for their own children, not out of a selfless act of making a decision to give them a better life through adoption, but because a report was filed and investigated, and it was found that they were not, at that time, fit to be parenting their own cild(ren). In some cases these parents were products of the foster care system themselves, and it can feel like it was only a matter of time before the vicious cycle continued. In other cases drug and/or alcohol abuse are a factor, and in yet other cases, abuse and neglect were present in their own childhood. Whatever the case, it breaks my heart for them. It breaks my heart that someone that was supposed to protect them, likely let them down. It breaks my heart that they never learned to take responsibility for their own lives, despite the unfair and difficult things that no doubt happened in their lives. It breaks my heart that they did not learn resiliency and perseverance and hope that their futures and the futures of their children could be different.
It breaks my heart that while I am making Baby Incredible’s first baby food, his parents are at home or at work or working on one of their court ordered responsibilities. It breaks my heart that they miss so many of his milestones, moments that they can never get back, moments that I will remember long after Baby Incredible moves on to the next step of this process, whatever the Lord determines that to be. So many of my firsts as a mom have been with Baby Incredible, and that can never be taken away: first plane ride, first Christmas, first New Years, first solid foods, first time making baby food… Baby incredible has now been with me for almost three times as long as he was with his parents. It breaks my heart that he knows me better than he knows them, that he identifies me as mom, and that eventually that bond with me will be broken when he goes to his next place, whether it be with his parents or into a foster home or with other family members.
There is so much heartbreak in this system. Yesterday I got a call from DCFS to ask me if I had room to take a baby. They were desperate. They had to be to call me. I haven’t been doing this long enough to have a relationship with anyone there who would call me for a placement, and I am with an agency. The agency is the one who calls me for placements. I am only certified for one at a time, so I have no room. I’m glad I don’t have room, because if I did, I might not have been able to say “no”. The baby was that of an underage mom. Heartbreaking.
There is so much brokenness, so much heartbreak, so much need. Being a foster parent is without a doubt the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It requires so much sacrifice and selflessness and unconditional love and loving your enemies and resiliency and perseverance and a million other things. You can’t know exactly how something is going to be until you do it for yourself. That is SO true with fostering. You can learn and read and go to classes, but you are truly tested when you are in it. Even after all the sleepless nights and tears and stress and crying and issues with adults involved in this process, I wouldn’t go back and change my decision to do this. It is so important and needed, and God knew I could handle it and make a difference in some babies’ lives. That is priceless.