But what if you have to say goodbye?

We've thought about doing foster care. We really love babies and children and we think we'd enjoy caring for another child in our home. But I don't think we would be able to. You see, I just can't imagine having to give them back! I would get too attached...do you ever have that problem sometimes? Like I can't imagine loving a child for so long and then having to give them back. So I don't think I can be a foster parent.


Oof. I've been the recipient of this little speech quite a few times now, and it never ceases to both amuse and frustrate me. The number one excuse that people use to explain why they won't be getting involved in foster care: they would get too attached to the kids. There's so much to unpack with this line of reasoning, so much to say about families reuniting and selflessness and sacrificial love, but the main thing I need people to understand is this: If the day should come that you have to say goodbye, it will still be worth it.


When I dropped my first two (foster) sons off at their Mama's house for the last time, they had lived with me for over 2 YEARS. It was a heartlessly cold winter day, the kind where it's not cold enough for fluffy snow so icy sleet pelts you in the face. I dropped them off at 4:30 in the afternoon but it was as dark as the middle of the night, the darkness mirroring the numb hopelessness in my heart.


I've tried to write about this day so many times, but none of my previous instagram captions have managed to capture it, and I don't know if this blog post will either. Smelling the smell of the tops of their heads when I hugged them throughout that day, finding any excuse to do so. Not sleeping the whole night before, sitting on the floor in their bedroom and listening to them breathe as they slept in their beds on the last night that our apartment would ever be their home again. The rush, the panicky stress of packing up two children's lives carefully and neatly, MY children's lives that would be happening without me across town. I worried over every bin and basket, as though by focusing on packing and organizing I could distract my heart from breaking.


The drive over to her house was the fastest drive I've ever taken. I would've done anything to prolong that last drive, their little jokes and smiley eyes in the rearview mirror. I thought wildly of driving around the block, I even thought desperately in the darkest corner of my mind of getting on the highway and taking off with them.


For two years I had poured my whole entire life into raising these precious boys, and when I got out of the car at her house on that last day, my entire body was tingling. It felt like it does when I'm watching a particularly scary horror movie scene, my breathing fast and my throat hurting from unreleased tears. I thought only one thing throughout pretty much the entire time of unpacking their things: Don't cry, don't cry, do NOT cry in front of them.


I made it through the whole process of bringing their bags and boxes into their new room, of making their new beds with their soft sheets that still smelled like their hair from them sleeping on those pillows at our house (my house now) the night before, of stacking their wrapped Christmas presents under the tree I'd given to their mom, of giving her a card and hugging her goodbye. I waved to them and smiled; I could not bear to hug them as I knew I would not be able to let go.


And then I got in my car and absolutely lost my shit driving home. I cried and screamed like I had a broken bone poking through my skin. I could barely see the road, nearby Christmas lights blurred like I was looking at them through a fish tank.


If the day should come that you have to say goodbye, it will still be worth it.


Two years and change since that day, and the boys and their mom are doing well. I am too, with three forever children and a partner and a new house. That old life with its shitty apartment and stellar children is part of the past now, that cold winter day where it felt like my life was ending only a memory now. But it's a memory that still brings a lump to my throat as I write it now while my five year old sits on my lap.


I get "too attached" and so should you. So should everyone who thinks they have an extra bedroom and extra love to give. My first two boys were worth the 745 days I poured into them. Their MOTHER was worth those 745 days. That family was worth the time and money spent. The tears in my car were for them, the months and years afterwards when a holiday memory or a photo on my phone would make me dissolve into choking sobs, were for them.


And I would live every moment of that pain again and again, if it meant that I still got to give those boys stability for 745 days.


So, please, don't be scared. Be brave, and know that the tears you'll shed and the pain you'll suffer will always be worth it, always.


If you choose to serve as a foster parent, I can't promise that you won't have to say goodbye, in fact you probably will have to. But I can promise you this, with all of my heart:


If the day should come that you have to say goodbye, it will still be worth it.


So let's not pray that we should never have to be sad, should never have to say goodbye. Let's pray a more selfless prayer: that those who have the resources and the love needed to be foster parents will be able to be brave enough to put their hearts on the line, knowing that the children and families in the system are worth breaking it for.


Amen.



E, I, and J, if you ever read this, know that all three of you are so special to me and that my time sharing my life with all of you will always be one of the most special times of my life. And I'm so happy for, and proud of, all of you. All my love always!



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