Thursday, January 28, 2016


This post was beautifully written by a fellow foster mom - a woman I have never met.  She's a friend of a friend, but a sister nonetheless.  She gets it.

Written by:  Alaina Beth Young Haerbig

"To the person who doesn't understand the significance of today:

You're a lot like me. I mean, it's just a Thursday, right? Except it's not. It's an anniversary.
Six months ago, my world changed completely when the phone rang, then a little one arrived, cute as the dickens. I understood my work was cut out for me when I said, "Come here, cutie, and let me change your diaper," and he replied casually, "Get out my face, MoFo!" as he walked away.  It is a wonderful anniversary of that day- a reminder of how far we've come when he says, "Momma, wanna see? Wookit dat biiig poopie I did inna potty for you!" Yes, I will gladly accept that anniversary present, little one. You have gotten so much more than your mouth under control in these six months. It may be a normal Thursday, but we will celebrate this day of little victories together.

But not all that this day marks is worthy of celebration. Today, a pastor and his wife will kiss their little one just once more, and do their best to smile and wave as a social worker takes her from the only home she has ever known, to be reunified with a near stranger who loves her but is ill equipped to parent.  They will pack a brand new box of Dora band aids- her favorite- because they know that she will literally chew the skin from her fingers in an attempt to control the terror she experiences at the hand of her older brother. (You know, the one who watches her when a John is visiting.) They have pictures. I've seen them- Blood in rivulets running down the little palm to her wrist. Because she is scared, and her one momma won't protect her, and the other momma now can't.

This date will be an anniversary for the rest of their lives, the pastor's and his wife's. They will never forget, and they will never be able to tell this precious one whom they love that they didn't want to let her go. They understand that she will think they abandoned her, and this normal Thursday will forever bear that extra sting for them. And no one will bring them a meal, or a sympathy card. "You knew this was what would happen," they will say, "I told you not to get attached."

But that's nothing compared to what this day is for another mom.

Today is one year since her son's murder. Returned to his first family, he was dead three days later, tortured for those three days at the hands of the woman who birthed him. His foster mom planned and paid for his funeral and the stone to bear witness to his short life, and still had to fight to get his surviving twin back into her care.  I can't understand how she functions, and no one is bringing her a casserole because today will be hard.

It's not a normal Thursday.

Another friend finally gets to post a picture of her son, because after years of fostering him, today he will be adopted and hers forever. She will celebrate today because HE became a part of WE. And she will mourn today because she understands that HE lost part of tHEy- the family to whom he was born and should have never had to leave. She will feel torn for rejoicing because she understands the magnitude of his missing history, and she will celebrate this Thursday with a schizophrenic split between joy and grief for this precious boy she now claims forever. She might get a card, but she didn't get a baby shower. And when he acts out because of his early trauma, even her family will say, "you asked for this. Why are you complaining?"

I'm not making this up. This is today, January 28. These are people in my sorority, an unlikely fellowship forged with rabid republicans and doting democrats, straights and gays, Christians and atheists. These are people I might never even have liked in my previously normal world...

Yet they are the ones with whom I will celebrate my poopie present. They are the ones with whom I will cry over a child I have never met as she goes (away from) home. They are those with whom I will grieve for a boy who will never be a man, and the ones with whom I will rejoice over an orphan who became a son.

Today is not a normal Thursday.

They understand.

And I hope, if you read this, that maybe you do, too.

If you know a foster family- take them a casserole, or share this with them so they know that today is no longer a normal Thursday for you, either.

It's an anniversary."

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Foster Mom - R said...

Love this. Thank you for sharing.

Diane said...

Wow! Very powerful and very true!

Jodi said...

BUT.. not all of foster care is better than care by birth families. I wish this letter included an anniversary for a birth family member- the grandma reunited with her grandson, a rehabbed dad working hard for his daughter. Last month, my foster son reunited with his dad (his mom lost custody) and it was a beautiful thing. This guy is a single dad of FOUR KIDS! He amazes me with his devotion, hard work and love. As I watch my current foster son run and play, I remember that he too has a birth family that is missing this moment. Although I'll cry and miss this kiddo like a limb, I hope his family pulls through for him. He deserves it.

christina said...

You're missing the point, Jodi. These are anniversaries on this date, today, in a specific support group of foster mom friends. Not foster care in its entirety.

DarrickJennifer Ignasiak said...

Jodi, this is not about foster care being better than birth's about a foster community that is isolated from society because unless you do foster care, you don't really get it... It's not about anniversaries, it's about the journey of fostering...

Annie said...

Wow. So moving and beautifully written. My husband and I started fostering just a couple months ago and already feel isolated and misunderstood by people who just don't get it. And if I'm being honest, I realize that a year or two ago I would have been one of those people saying "What's the big deal? It's just another day."

Phoenix said...

One of these sons are mine. Am I the mother grieving for her murdered son, or am I the one conflicted, but mostly happy that my son will be safe and loved forever? It really doesn't matter.

This was written by a friend to share some joy and sadness. Because grief shared lessens the pain and victories shared multiplies the happiness.

Foster care is a lonely road, unless you have met and made some incredible friends in this journey, as I have.

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