It's been a few months now, of my head knowing something and trying to make my heart follow. Of constantly explaining our status to other people and verbalizing the good, the things I know are true, but then struggling to believe them myself. The comments of "oh I could never do that, I could never give a child back" can sting during times like this. Because I often do feel the exact same way! How can I give this boy back who I have raised for over a year? The boy that calls me "Mama" and has only really known our family. I know every tiny detail about him, what calms him down, makes him laugh...the long list of quirky things us Moms just know because we spend every waking hour with our kids and love them more than anyone else. How can I just stop this role of protector, advocator, nurturer and trust that he's going to be ok? What if I never get to see him again? How can we go from being a family of four, to not being that? Lately when I think about the future, it has a bit of a question mark. It's a strange thing to have your number of children be a fluid concept, but that's the norm of a foster family. It is ridiculously hard and emotional, no matter how strong of a person you are.
As a foster parent you know your role is most likely temporary. And you have to keep reminding yourself that God is sovereign and knows what is best for these kids. They are HIS. I don't want to let my fear and possible heartbreak be my reason not to take part in this. It's just too important of a ministry! And the beauty outweighs the hard. I've been trying to get past the why's and just ask God what He is doing and what my role is. How can I continue to love and pour into this child while he's still in my home? What prayers or scriptures can I speak over him? How can I build relationship and show love to his biological family? Granted, those are not necessarily things I FEEL like doing, but it gives purpose to this pain and shifts the perspective for me to see God working.
Right now things feel chaotic, there are so many visits and back and forth for him and he doesn't handle it well. There isn't an end in sight just yet so it just feels like this long marathon where they keep adding an extra mile when you think you see the finish line. I'm doing a lot of the driving and let me just say two toddlers in Florida traffic is anything but fun! I'm battling my own emotions and constantly dealing with the tension of wanting his birth mom to succeed and have this beautiful redemption story of breaking the cycle and getting her boy back. But then some days selfishly wishing she would fail or make a mistake so we might get to keep him and know he's safe forever. My mind can start spinning with thoughts like "we've done all the hard work, and now she just gets to waltz in and reap the benefits!" or "we're so much more stable and he already thinks I'm his Mom, this isn't fair". And the reality is, it isn't fair. Fostering is HARD. I could sit up on a pedestal and judge his parents all day long, but it's not my place. They are his birth parents and they are broken people just like us. A friend of ours asked my husband the other day how he could specifically pray for him during this time. His response hit me hard because it was simple but so wise, he said "pray that I would stop being the judge".
I have a lot of interaction with his Mom these days and it started off very awkward. I would try to make small talk and she would give me one word answers. I don't really blame her, I'm sure it's intimidating to face the "other mom" who has basically raised your child. I can only imagine the feelings of resentment or inadequacy that have been harboring, where she can only see me as the enemy. But I wanted to try my hardest to show her we are both on the same team. I was getting discouraged about it and I felt God tell me to invite her to church with us on Easter. My first thought was "oh heck no!", but I finally did it, expecting a quick decline and you know what?...she said yes! I was floored, and also embarrassed about how many times I miss those promptings from the Lord because of my own pride or fear. Long story short, she didn't actually make it that day, but it was a huge turning point for us. I continued to express our love for her son and her family, and always try to emphasize that we want them to be together and we are excited for her progress. She is slowly softening towards me and we've had some really good conversations lately, which is total answered prayer! If I could see her come to know Jesus, that would be the greatest gift I could imagine. But even if I don't see that happening now, it's worth it for me to sow these seeds and let God handle the growth.
It is such a privilege that we get to forever be a part of his journey and him ours. I may never understand certain aspects of our case, or fully agree with some of the decisions made, but I know that we worked hard to love and protect him while he was with us and be his voice whenever we could. Many days ended in tears and frustration, but God was so faithful and He didn't let us quit, even when we wanted to, and I'm so glad.