How has it been one week?
How has it already been a week?
A week ago was our last day with Little Miss. Last Tuesday, we said goodbye to her.
I realize that I’ve been really quiet around here and I just needed to pound out some words regarding this whole thing. Mostly, so that if I go through this again, I can look back and remember. But also because I know that a lot of people are following along and want to know how we are doing.
SO, how are we doing?
We are doing alright. Honestly. We are grieving and we are sad, but we are ok. We are not devastated, we are not crushed, we are not even surprised. We are just sad, and we need to take some time to be able to be sad. It’s a sad situation (for us).
On Tuesday, we packed up all her stuff, drove her to Children’s Services, watched as her new parents signed their initials a few times, and then we handed her and her stuff over and drove home without her.
Yes, I cried. All day. And most of the next. And on and off since then. I cried because I missed her. I cried because our house feels so empty. I cried because I gave nine months of my life to her, and now she’s not in my life at all. I cried because it was the hardest nine months of my life, and we had bonded. I cried because for much of those nine months I wasn’t sure I could do it, and now I’m not doing it anymore. I cried because Tera just lost the only sister that she has ever had. I cried because my parents never got to meet her. I cried because Tera said “I miss you” first thing when she woke up from her nap. I cried because I felt alone. I cried because there are so many confusing emotions in this whole situation. I cried because her Mom lost her chance. I cried because the world is broken. I cried because I have learned that nine months CAN make a difference in someone’s life. I cried because it’s hard.
This is it, guys. These are the days that keep most people from being fostering parents. I’m living the “I could never because I would get too attached”. I’m living it day and night RIGHT NOW. And you know what? Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT.
Does it make me want to call Children’s Services and tell them we are done? NOPE. Does it make me want to throw in the towel and never have to go through this again? NOPE. Does it make me hate foster care and never want to pour myself into another life again? NOPE. In fact, I feel the exact opposite! I want to call Children’s Services and say “Give me more! Let me do it again! Let me love one, or two, or three!!!” It was so worth it to know how much I put into that little life. Without Theo, Tera and I her entire future could have been much, much different. What an honor! What a privleage! How could we stop at one??!??
I wanted to take a brief moment and address some of the questions I’ve been asked a lot in the week since she left. I know a lot of people are curious but don’t feel comfortable asking, and a lot of people don’t want to say the wrong thing. Please, I am more than willing to talk about it and answer whatever questions you may have.
Where did she go?
Little Miss has gone to live with some kin. They live out of state and have wanted to take her since she was born. They are a wonderful couple and will do an excellent job raising her. They have spent significant amount of time with her already and we are hoping the transition will be smooth.
Why didn’t she go with her biological parents?
This is a bit complicated, and I don’t even fully know the answer to that question. Her biological mother was showing signs of progress in completing her plan and getting Little Miss back, but recently fell off the bandwagon. Usually, a bio parent has a year to get their act together and show some progress, but in this case our caseworkers decided that nine months was enough time and that she has not made any significant progress in becoming the mother capable of taking care of her. And her bio father has never been in the picture.
Why didn’t she stay with you? Why would they take her away from the family that she has already bonded with?
Hmmm, good question. And a hard one for me to answer. The short answer: the law. The long answer: Children’s Services always, always, always tries to place a child with kin. Now, “kin” is defined differently from state to state and can mean anyone from immediate family to a close family friend. The idea behind this law makes sense to me: they want to keep the child closest to their family. Placing a child with a biological family member foster culture, family unity, and is usually a good idea in general. However, the personal side of this does make me a little bit annoyed as I do wish we could have kept her. This did not come as a surprise to us, though, as we knew these relatives were in the picture from the beginning. The way our caseworker explained it is:
Plan A: Biological Mother
Plan B: Kin, if any are interested in taking her (in her case the answer was 200% YES)
Plan C: Foster Parents
Has she been adopted?
Actually, no. She is currently being fostered by the relatives and they have a 6 month trial period (you know, to determine that they don’t hate her) before an adoption can be approved. Trust me, they don’t hate her and these six months will end in an adoption.
Will you maintain contact with her?
This is 110% up to her current parents. They choose how much contact we have her. But, yes…we are in contact with. Although I can’t decide if that is more painful or less painful at the moment.
Will you take more foster placements? When?
We are still currently licensed foster parents! The question of when is completely in God’s hands. We are taking an entire month off from any placements. We need this month to just go through some grief and recuperate a little bit from the stress of having a foster child. After that, we shall see. I’m due in October and don’t want to throw too much upheaval into the family, but it would be hard to convince us to say no! We are completely trusting that God will make it OBVIOUS when we should say yes to another placement.
How is Tera doing?
Tera is doing…well. I mean, she’s Tera. She is so resilient and I truly believe that God gave her a laid-back personality in order to be able to handle foster care. But she is grieving, and I’m surprised how much she actually seems to understand. She carries a picture of Little Miss around all day, and says, “I love you!” and “I miss you!” to the picture all day long. She talks about her and gets really excited when she sees a picture. There has been one or two times when she has gone to look for Little Miss in her usual spots and cannot find her. She has had several meltdowns when she can’t find her. I think those moments have been the hardest for me. Overall, I have no idea how much she actually understands, but she is the most emphatic and caring child. She is very quick to notice “mommy crying!” and will bring me a tissue. It’s the sweetest.
How are you and Theo and doing?
Grief is wild! It manifests itself in different ways for different people. Theo is doing well. He is enjoyed being my steady rock and comforting me through the sadness. Sometimes we just look at each other with tears in our eyes because something brought back the memories of her. We have been able to talk through a lot of the feelings and emotions and that has been so good for me. I am learning how I grieve, and mostly it is by trying to remove all the evidence of Little Miss. I know that’s not entirely healthy, so I am finding a balance. I am also finding that I am just purely exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for a week straight. The emotions the past week have been strong and they are exhausting. I know that Theo is also exhausted.
What can I do to help?
Why, thank you for asking. It’s so strange to me that I’ve gone through one of the hardest weeks of my life, but it’s not a big deal to anybody else. I’m learning to relay on the Lord in this time, as it has felt rather lonely. Prayers would be helpful, but I’m also learning that I need tangible things, too. I need to take a nap, which means I need someone to help me take care of my regular duties like cooking, cleaning and taking care of Tera. I need words of affirmation and encouragement like nobodies business. I have felt so blessed by the numerous people who have texted me every few days just to check in on how I’m doing. I have literally written every text message down in my journal because it means that much to me. My friend Tam sent me flowers on Tuesday and I wept and wept into those flowers. They were so beautiful and such a reminder to me that I’m not alone. For now, we are just continuing on, and taking it day by day. I’m not going to rush the sadness and try to move on from it, but instead just take it moment by moment and let it be there. I’m sure there will be days that everything feels back to normal, and then days when the emptiness of her crib feels crushing. Theo and I are thankful that we have each other, a good support system and most importantly- Christ the solid rock.