So, today is Baby K's birthday. If she were here we would be planning a huge party complete with a smash cake, family, friends and lots of beautiful gifts. She would be wearing an adorable first birthday dress and we would be taking a TON of pictures. Maybe she is getting all of those things with her parents (and I hope she is), but it still is a sad day for me. I can not be there with her to celebrate her first year of life. For 10 months of her little life we were there for all the firsts . . . but this biggest first we are not. It wasn't God's plan for us, it wasn't God's plan for K, and who am I to question that?
I did think that on this day it would be a good time to journal my final thoughts on K. I do this not because I think you need to read them, but because I think it's therapy for me to write them. Somehow putting everything here helps me organize my thoughts and hopefully will serve as a reminder to me of God's faithfulness through this journey.
I'm not going to lie, it got very hard at the end of our time with K. The visits with her parents got longer and the time with us was almost completely spent in "recovery". Her lack of sleep and inconsistent schedule with her parents made our house only a time to sleep and get back on schedule between visits. We spent very little quality time with her because she was a cranky mess and so overtired that she literally was sleeping 12 hrs at night and over 8 during the day to get back on track. We were frustrated with her parents for their lack of consistency and they were frustrated with us for "forcing" our schedule on them. The transition time between foster parents and biological parents is really a HUGE transition for everyone involved (especially the child). We were warned in our classes that this was the case, but it wasn't until we experienced it that we truly understood the challenges. It wasn't so much our grief over losing her (although that was certainly there too) as much as it was the stress of so much tension and you just had to feel bad for K caught in the middle.
It was horribly difficult to drop her off to people I did not trust and I did not want her with. I am not saying I had the right attitude here . . . just telling you how I felt. Who in their right mind takes "their" child and drops them off in a place they are not safe? NO ONE!! So I felt like a horrible person taking her there and then praying for her safety all day long. I learned so much about trust in God through this. K was never mine, she was God's. She was entrusted to me for a time and if that time was only two days a week in the end then so be it. I was to do what was best by her for those two days and pray for God to be her protector the rest of the time. This is really a freeing thought . . . no "accidents" happen on His watch and as much as I think I'm a good caregiver . . . I can't guarantee what will happen any more than her parents can. God loves K and she is His. I can take comfort in that.
I have a long way to go with my heart attitude in this foster parenting journey. It is so hard for me to respect the parents involved with the system. My pride says that K would be much better off with me than them because I can offer her . . . that they don't have. My selfish and prideful heart forgets that "but for the grace of God" I could be in a situation where my son is removed from my home for some reason. My pride forgets that I am a sinner too and that it is only by the mercy of God that I am able to do what I do. My selfishness forgets that God's will is that no one should perish and that perhaps I can be Christ's instrument of mercy to the entire family . . . and not only to the children involved.
K had to go home less than a week before Christmas. It was pouring the rain when they came to pick her up and I will never forget her face when I buckled her in her seat for the last time. Next time I'll let someone else do that . . . . my tears dripping on her little coat and her looking at me all confused . . . nope, next time Tim or the worker will have to do that job . . . it created a picture in my mind that is too sad and too difficult to erase. It was time though. The courts had made their ruling, her parents had done all that was asked of them, and the visits were becoming more and more difficult for everyone. K needed to be somewhere permanently. I also had to remember that although our hearts were broken . . . on the other side of town there was much rejoicing. Our grief was their greatest joy and their child was home permanently in time for Christmas. As hard as it was for us, there was comfort in knowing someone else had much to be thankful for. They do love her, and although their methods are not our methods . . . there is no doubt they care deeply for their daughter and as desperate as we were to keep her . . . they were desperate to get her back.
God has been beyond gracious. Andrew has transitioned away from K seamlessly much as he transitioned to having her in our home. In spite of the fact that in most areas of his life he is not at all flexible, God gave him tremendous grace surrounding K's time with us. He was never jealous of her when she was here . . . and except for an occasional comment (I sure do miss K, I loved her) he has not had any difficulties with her leaving. Tim and I have each had our moments of sorrow . . . sometimes sudden ones that we were not expecting (finding baby socks in a coat pocket)(holding someone elses baby for the first time since she left), and other times when we were ready for the feelings to come (the last load of baby bottles in the dishwasher). Even through those times, God has granted a peace that although our sorrow is real, it is not an overwhelming sorrow or one that consumes us.
We have been called to do this. Losing K solidified this in our minds. How else could we have gotten through the fact that we were handed a baby we have all three been praying for 5 years for and then she was taken away from us? How could we ever get through that unless God was giving us the strength? How could we even be considering this again and even be ANXIOUS to have another child in our home if God wasn't in this? We are fully aware of what it's like to lose a child we raised as our own but yet we are STILL wanting to do this again. That's only God. There is NO WAY we could do this on our own. My emotions are not strong enough, my will is not strong enough, my physical body can not handle this stress. . . . but God strengthened all those areas in a way I can not explain except to say it's a God thing. I can do all things, even this, THROUGH Christ who strengthens me.
K doesn't remember anything about us. If I saw her today she would probably cling to her mother rather than see me. I won't lie, the knowledge of that hurts this mothers heart. She will never remember us or anything we did with her. She won't remember going to church or any of the people who loved her so much there. She won't remember her favorite blanket at my house and she won't remember how much she hated my jumperoo. She won't remember Andrew and the way he made her laugh and she will probably never know how big an extended "foster" family she had here who loved her very very much. We, however, will always remember our little Baby K. We will forever be changed by the change in our hearts that God did through her little life in ours.
God, help us to remember the peace you granted when we thought we couldn't make it. God, help us remember the grace you gave to all of us but especially to Andrew when we prayed so much for you to protect his little heart. God, help us never forget that ALL our children-adopted or foster are not really ours . . . they are YOURS and entrusted to us for a short time to guide and to train. Help us to guide every child in our home toward Christlikeness whether they are 3 weeks old or 5 years old or anything in-between. Help Tim and I to be a light in their little lives of what their heavenly Father is like and guide us toward Yourself so that we can be that light. Help us to never desire our plan for our family over Your plan . . . even when our hearts are broken. Thank you for your Peace that passes our understanding or what we can describe. Thank you for your Love that fills us up when we are empty inside. Thank you for your Faithfulness through it all -- even to people who fail you as often as we do.