I wrote this excerpt in 2016 when we were in the thick of our fostering journey. We had just farewelled two littles who will always be part of our story. They were our first foster daughters and hold a tender place in this mama's heart. We are not currently fostering but are settling into our three whom we have adopted. I wanted to share this post to encourage those who welcomed motherhood through fostering and adopting.
After drinking deeply from the Word of God I take another sip of coffee. I have a few quiet moments before children wake and chaos arises. Why not check Facebook, Instagram or that blog with beautiful pictures nestled between words of “motherhood” and “healthy recipes”?
I begin to scroll. I pause at a picture of a dreamy baby room eagerly prepared by a loving new mom; “It’s a Girl!” I see those big pink bows and the delicate swaddles. Everything looks so perfect in the social media world.
I keep scrolling.
More pictures. Mama’s trendy shoes, next to baby’s little shoes and daddy’s manly shoes with the caption, “Our family is growing!” I read the latest mommy blog dissecting the hardships of motherhood. Half of my heart relating to what I read and the other half feels completely alone on this island called Foster Care.
I’m a new mommy. But I never took the little shoe picture announcing our family was growing. No, instead I was filling out paperwork, getting background checks and going through training on how to restrain my child. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing the gender of my child before he or she arrived. No, I just received a phone call asking if we would take him or her or maybe both of them. Within hours they were at our doorstep, frightened and confused. I read about sleep deprivation. Oh yes, I have sleep deprivation, because I wake night after night to my child screaming due to trauma. I endlessly rock our 5 lbs. foster daughter wondering how different her fragile body would look if she had received proper nutrients from conception. She cries and cries and cries. She is brand new to this world, my smell, my voice and my touch. I don’t have to suffer through breast tenderness, but oh, how I long to breastfeed her to give her the nutrients she needs. Instead of dressing her in cute newborn outfits I am charting weight gain. The doctor’s words ring in my ears, “We’ve got to give her a fighting chance.”
And in the rare moment when everyone is sleeping I place my weary body in the shower and stand there… sobbing.
I keep sobbing, letting my bottled up emotions run over me like the water hitting my skin. I just stand there.
All the newness of motherhood rushes over me, but that is not all. I hold their stories. I’ve entered into their stories, their pain, their cries and their fears. I’ve loved deeper than I ever dreamed and I’ve grieved deeper than I even knew possible. I remember why we said, “yes” those months ago. I remember counting the cost, but now I’m living it. And it’s costly.
Is it worth it?
Is it easy?
There is nothing easy about being a new mama. Whether one became a mother through biological children, adoption, or foster care, none of it is easy. There is great sacrifice and great joy entangled in our human hearts as we pour ourselves out to precious little ones. But for the mama who began motherhood through fostering there is a different kind of pouring out, a different kind of hard.
As the new mama, welcoming motherhood through fostering, I’ve poured out my whole heart to experience heartache and tears. I’ve given of myself; despite all the hardships these littles have brought me. I have tasted the sweet life of motherhood just to experience the death of it as well. Just as quickly as the phone rang and they showed up at my door, the phone rang again and they were gone. Leaving me with a silent home and the ringing of “mommy” in my ears. My floor once covered with crumbs left behind as evidence of life is now covered with all the shattered pieces of my heart.
I stand in the shower once more. Sobbing.
With each hello and embrace of a new life I know it could mean yet another goodbye. I bravely cry out to God in desperation to fill the aching hole in my heart as I pack those bags, yet again. I ask Him to stitch back together all the places I’ve given freely to that first little one, and the second, the third and the fourth life I’ve embraced.
I’ve lost pieces of my heart along the way because I believe “give to the least of these” is glorifying to God and more important than my comfort. I have suffered, so their suffering would be minimal. I said, “yes” because I believed God would be with me through the valley and mountain. I stepped up to being the “other mommy” while she needed to get her feet back under her. I have graciously taken the hurtful, “oh, so those aren’t your kids” comment time and time again because I believe God wants to use our journey to redefine the lines of love and family for us and others.
He sees me and He sees you, foster mommy. He sees our shaking hands and broken heart. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, as well as the ones we love. He is with us, side by side, holding our fragile hearts in the palms of His steady hands. He is with them. He indeed is gaining the glory for our sacrificial journey of motherhood. All of this is about Him and His glory. So take heart foster mommy, He is here in this place.