My life is nothing like I thought it would be when I was younger... I don't know how many teens or young adults imagine their lives 15-20 years down the road and think, "I plan to be a single foster mom! I want to love other people's kids and get my heart broken over and over again as I let them go." I know I sure didn't! These past two years in Foster/Adopt Land have been one wild and crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. There have been times when I thought I couldn't do it anymore... Times when I felt like a complete failure... Times when it hurt so bad, I just wanted to hide from the world... When people hear that I'm a foster parent, they inevitably say, "I just couldn't do that! It would hurt too much to let them go!" My answer has always been, "Yes, it hurts. It's horrible. It's the worst pain I've ever felt. But it's so worth it."
While that has always been my answer, I'm not sure I ever fully believed it until the past few months. I went into foster care after many, many prayerful years. I finally began to trust that God wouldn't have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated, so I threw myself into loving these kids with my whole heart. I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until I began this journey. But I can feel the change within me as more and more time goes on, and I know that can only be His promise to heal the hurt as I love these kids and let them go. With each child who comes into and out of my life, I've found that I have a stronger sense of peace, a more compassionate heart, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find.
I look at Little Miss and feel so incredibly blessed to be the one who gets to keep her safe, to teach her new things, and to love her like a mother should. I am counting the days until Itty Bitty gets out of the hospital and joins us so I can do the same for her.
At the same time, I feel for their parents. No matter what their situation is, these are their little girls. People make mistakes... Often bad mistakes... And I have to believe that they can learn from them. Even if they don't, and their mistakes continue to get the better of them, I can't help but feel for them.
I know that my sense of empathy and compassion sometimes drives people crazy. The "natural" reaction to someone hurting or neglecting a child is definitely not one of empathy towards the parents. But I think that trait in me is partly what makes me a good foster parent. I want to help the parents. Especially the parents who so obviously love their children and who want to make positive changes for them. But even if they aren't able to do that, I think my compassion for them helps my kids in the long-run. If I'm ever blessed to be able to adopt any of my kids, I think I'll be able to better explain how they came to me in a way that won't leave them feeling abandoned or unwanted. I hope that I can teach my children to have that sense of empathy and understanding for others.
One thing I do know is that God is healing my heart beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible. Yes, it does hurt when my children leave my home and my arms, but His promise to heal that hurt has proven true time and time again. And after every healing, I find myself more and more excited and filled with the anticipation of loving another one of these children who so desperately need me for however long I'm blessed to have them in my life.