Monday, April 6, 2015


Well, it's been a month since we've last seen our foster child.  He came to us at nine months of age and returned home seven months later after he'd learned to talk, walk, and feed himself with a spoon. For his first month back home, we provided childcare about three days a week.  At that point their childcare needs resolved and they no longer needed us to watch him.  We promised we'd stay in touch and that we'd see each other often.

It's been a month since we've seen him.  This isn't at all abnormal.  Many foster families lose touch when the child returns home.  It's not what I necessarily expected in our case, though.

His initial return home was hard (pre-childcare) but saying goodbye that night a month later without anything scheduled on the calendar was harder.  Even with the promise of staying in touch, I knew it could be the last time we would see him.

Those first couple weeks were difficult.  I didn't walk around bawling my eyes out but only occasionally shed a tear or two.  I did feel very unsettled, though.  As if something was off kilter.  It was.  I felt all my normal emotions with a little more intensity.  I felt myself "space out" occasionally as my mind wandered or as I had to remind myself that we might not be seeing him anymore.  I packed up a lot of the baby/toddler things we had out for him (that are ours).  I washed his sheets, reorganized the nursery and sometimes found myself just sitting in the nursery chair...just sitting and remembering all the many bottles I fed him there while he laid in my arms, looked into my eyes and fingered my earrings, {almost} always gently and carefully.

It was all I could do not to pick up the phone and call his mother.  But I realized that if I did it would only be for selfish reasons.  *I* wanted to know how he was doing for peace of mind.  *I* wanted to see him again so that I could catch his expression when he first caught a glimpse of me- that expression of attachment, joy and love.  As much as I know his attachment needs to be transferred to his birth family, it stings to know that as their attachment strengthens, mine and his weakens and will eventually disappear.

What we had hoped for him and his family came true.  They worked hard, made every appointment, and did everything asked of them.  He was reunited with his family and they are doing well.  They no longer need us.  We have done our job.

But still.  We miss him.

I totally understand why they may not be contacting us.  As well as we did get along, I get it why they might need to put all this behind them.  For them, we are a giant reminder of all that happened. They are trying for a fresh start.  We are part of the old hurt.  I cannot force myself into that new start to fulfill my own needs.

Two pictures of him that his mother framed and gave to me sit on my counter.  It's the small counter right beside the fridge where I keep my calendar, to-do lists, and file folders of the kid's activity papers.  I'm at that counter often and therefore I catch glimpses of him often.  I'm glad he's with his family because when at all (safely) possible that is where children belong.

But still.  We miss him.

It's getting better.  The freedoms that come without having a toddler in tow are enjoyable.  I can work outside for hours at a time- something nowhere near possible with a curious toddler about.  I don't have to buckle anyone into the van when we go somewhere- I just hop in my seat.  The kids can romp and laugh and play upstairs at night without risking that he'll be woken up.  I don't have to cut up anyone's food into minuscule pieces and it doesn't matter if legos end up downstairs.  There are way less interruptions during school, we can stay out in the evenings past 7 pm and there are no more gates to hurdle.

Our kids are incredibly resilient.  They loved him dearly, played with him constantly, and helped take care of him.  Not one of them has shed a tear.  I'm not sure what to make of this other than to hope that it was our regular reminders about his stay being temporary and prayers offered up for his family and their reunification.  The fact that his leaving went so smoothly for them is encouraging and a wonderful blessing- for us and for them.

But still.  We miss him.

It's possible they will still make contact with us at some point.  I might write a short letter and pass it through the social worker.  We think and talk about our next placement.  The day I wrote this, we were asked about another toddler who needs a foster home but we're just not ready yet.  But as time passes, we can tell that one day we will be ready.  We've been praying for that next child and their family. God's hand was in our first placement and we trust it will be in our second, too.

But still.  We miss him.

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  1. Thank you for this post. It is quite insightful and very comforting (for different reasons).

  2. I don't always read your posts all the way through ... but for some reason I started AND finished this one. Very touching. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This directly addresses a lot of the fears that people have pre-fostering young children. It's so well-written and---like J said---"comforting." xo

  4. Oh, thank you for sharing this. I was a social worker for a while and helped kids like him. We often heavily depended on foster families to do so much, but I felt they were often overlooked. Blessings to you and your family for having spent part of your lives with this little guy who needed you, and blessings again as you prepare for what's ahead. Families like you are essential in the whole helping/healing process. I'm so grateful to hear of his family's positive outcome!

  5. Bless you. Thank you for sharing so frankly about something I know very little about. I appreciate your honesty and love.

  6. I've thought about foster care in the past but have feared just what you've expressed. Not sure I could let them go. No matter what, you know that you made a difference with your love and care at a time when he (and his family) needed it most. What a blessing.

  7. We have fostered two children in the past, and everything you say is true. Soon it will have been five years since the 9 year old left us (military - we had to move), and I still think about him and the 12 year old who came before him at some point every day. It's not in a sad, make-me-want-to-cry way, but in a "I will always love those kids" sort of way. I remind myself that God put us in each others lives for exactly the right amount of time - not a minute more, not a minute left. He has a plan for our lives, and I believe that we were together for exactly the amount of time for us to teach and give them what He planned, and for us to learn from them what He knew we needed. Knowing what we do now, and having been through the ups and downs of the system, wild horses still can't keep us from looking forward to the day when we can welcome more children into our homes for a time, and our hearts forever.


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