We are a foster family. Phil and I have willingly gone into this endeavor…we’ve counted the cost. Not so for Eden and Denver. Nope. The girls are coming along for the ride…actively participating…though they’ve had no say. And I wanted this for them. I wanted them to live the gospel. I wanted a life for our little family that meant, “We’re in this thing together.” I wanted this…in theory. The reality hurts my heart. But still, I want this for them.
When it comes to fostering, a great deal of attention is given to the fear of losing a child and the grief that comes with that. But make no mistake, grief happens in fostering…whether or not a child stays with the foster family or departs. And I failed to recognize this for my girls…and for me.
I am a fan of grief. It has been my best and truest teacher. Yet, I am almost always blindsides when it pops up in unexpected places. Like in the delivery room…where a beautifully healthy baby is put into mama’s arms….or in a wedding chapel…or when foster babies find a safe haven. There is grief …sometimes deep grief…in the change in seasons.
I was unprepared for the grief Eden and Denver would experience as our family blissfully welcomed two little girls. Yet my dear ones…my babies…they want their mama…they want the mama they had before the girls came. They want more of me than there is. And that mama is gone…forever.
I wanted (and still want) so desperately to ease their suffering. I saw it in Eden first. Weepy…so very weepy. I recognized her grief…but not the importance of her feeling her grief. I pulled the ol’, “But Eden, you are doing something so wonderful for these girls…” number.
Then I saw this quote by John Piper:
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.
I was not allowing Eden to weep and sit in the yuck of losing me. Nor Denver. They needed to moan and cling and cry. So, right now, our girls are in the yuck…the yucky, yucky yuck. Don’t get me wrong, they love Chick Pea and Sweet Pea already. Eden and Den are gloriously helpful and sweet and kind and gentle and patient. There is lots of laughter around here…lots of joy…and lots and lots and lots of tears.
Together, we will grieve this joyous event…receiving Chick Pea and Sweet Pea. We will grieve the life we lost…the dynamics…the extra time to cuddle and snuggle…the attention.
Then we will wash our faces.
And embrace the life we have.
As a family.