On June 14th, our life changed completely.
I sobbed all morning, and then we drove to Children’s Services and dropped off our baby.
Well, I guess she technically was never “ours”, but if you try telling that to my heart, you aren’t going to get very far.
We drove away from her and I sobbed. All day.
We got flowers. And texts. And even some emails. We felt loved and supported. And even in those really tough moments, we knew that what had happened was the right thing. Not the easiest thing. But the right thing.
We gave nine long (and often incredibly difficult) months of our lives to sweet Little Miss.
And we don’t regret that one bit.
But the healing journey. Man. That has been something that I totally didn’t expect. I didn’t expect the grief to manifest itself in the ways it has. I didn’t expect to still be here, in this spot, over two months later.
We talked it through and decided to give ourselves at least one month off from taking another placement. A lot of people in our life affirmed this and told us it was wise. I am really glad we did that, and it is something that we will continue to implement as we continue our journey through foster care.
After one month, we still weren’t ready for another placement. There are a million factors, like the fact that we were traveling for most of the summer, or the fact that I’m in the third trimester of pregnancy. I have a million reasons that I’m not ready, but I keep going around and around in my mind fighting myself back and forth over the issue of not being ready. In foster care…there is never an ideal time. There is never a moment when you lean back in your chair and say “I’m ready for a phone call now”. Maybe in our hearts, we are ready. But within the wall of our homes, “the phone call” always seems to come at a crazy time…like the middle of the night. Or two hours after you said goodbye to your last houseguest of the summer. Or two weeks before your due date. The list could go on. It’s never going to be perfect timing, because it’s something that is almost completely out of our control.
After the first month passed, the check-ins and the comments and the hugs petered out, and we have been left with our grief. I’ve heard that’s how it is on this grief journey. Our lives came almost to a complete halt, but I have to remind myself that no one else’s life did…and that is ok.
This summer has been SO FULL of joyful moments. I was in two of my best friends wedding. I mean…nothing can get more joyful than that! We had a gorgeous family reunion, full of so much family and laughter and fun. I couldn’t help but be so grateful for those huge events that showed me that life is still beautiful, even in the midst of the hard.
Another thing that this grief journey has revealed in me is my struggles with anxiety and my need for control. Since Little Miss left, I have struggled with the anxiety of losing Tera more than ever before. Spending time away from her is difficult for me. When there is a storm or a near-miss or when she is sick, I struggle. I think about God and how his sovereign plan is sometimes not the same plan that I would choose, and I wonder what He is going to ask me to do next. Right now is a time of beauty and rest and celebration in our lives, but what will be right around the corner? Is it sinful of me to be terrified?
But mostly…I’ve been learning about grief. How it is a journey. But it’s not a journey with an end mark, as so many people expect. I think that especially with our grief, I am expected to reach the end, to not be “grieving” anymore. But I think that I will always grieve saying goodbye to Little Miss. I think I will always miss her, even if the journey dulls the ache over time. And grief is funny, because I often think I’m over a particular emotion, and that out of the blue, it hits me like a freight train. Sometimes I’m standing in the store and then suddenly I’m bawling because I am reminded of something. Going to a place for the first time without her is one of the hardest things, too. We went Up North for our family reunion, and immediately upon arriving I missed her fiercely, because the last time I had been there, she had been there, too.
It’s also interesting how grief comes on people in different ways. I’m actually far less emotional about it than I thought I would be, and most of my sadness comes out as anxiety and a lack of control. But some days it surprises me and lingers in an emotion that I thought I would have been done with by July.
As the months have passed, I have gotten less questions asking me how I’m doing, and more questions asking me when I’m ready for another placement. It’s humbling to say that I’m not ready yet. I mean…if I’m this devastated by the loss of Little Miss, how can anyone trust me to be a foster parent again? I mean…there are so many foster parents out there who don’t let their rooms sit empty, who are almost immediately ready to welcome in more children. And here I am…still struggling two months later. I think we will know when we are ready. I think it will be obvious to us when we should say yes. And so far…that peace has not come over us. And I need to be ok with that. I need to remember and remind myself that I am not a failure, nor am I doing anything wrong by saying no to those phone calls. I am not weak and I can certainly stand to be humbled a little more often.
A lot of people’s first comment to me when they hear that I am a foster Mom is: “I could never do that. I would get attached and it would be too hard to say goodbye”. Well, I hope that if you are reading this, you are given a peek into the moment of “too hard”, Guys…it’s hard. It’s so hard. But it’s not TOO hard. And all of this? All of these emotions and feelings I just wrote about? It’s so worth it. Because this girl? This Little Miss right here? We changed her life. We gave her the best start she could ever have. We gave her our all. And no amount of pain and grief would make that NOT worth it. Yes, we will do it again. Yes, it will hurt again. And I’m more than ok with that. I’m just willing to be honest about the emotions while we go through it. But it’s not too hard.
I got home in early August from our last trip of the summer, and August has been good to us so far. I have been able to be at home, keep up with my housekeeping and cooking and grocery shopping, and spend time with those who are most precious to me. I have been able to keep up with my blog and to even work ahead a little bit in preparation for baby boys arrival in October. This past week has been difficult as Tera has been really sick with a virus. It’s not fun having a sick child, and as I mentioned above…my anxiety is through the roof. But in a way, I am so thankful for these moments that I get to snuggle with her all day, cramming my pregnant self into her bed and reading book after book to her. I won’t forget these moments.