To my fellow foster and adoptive parents on the really hard days...
To the young new parents facing the last week with their baby girl, the one who made them parents in the first place. I see you trying to balance the knowledge that a successful reunification is what's best for her with the fears in your hearts, and the human longing to just have her stay in your arms where she's been for many months. I see you packing tiny clothes late at night while she's sleeping, feeling as though you're in the middle of a bad dream. I see you.
To the foster mama facing a cloud of huge unknowns, not knowing if you'll be loving on these babies for 3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years. I see you bonding fully and fearlessly to these babies who might leave. I see you sacrificing sleep and investing huge amounts of money in childcare for these precious ones who might not even stay. I see you hunching over your computer on YouTube after bedtime, trying to get those hairstyles just right. I see you scheduling specialist appointments for "your" baby, appointments that you might never even get to attend. I see your mother's pride in matching bite size outfits for two tiny siblings, saving photos for a future you might never get to see. I see you.
To the foster parents driving through dark streets, thinking on their feet to find their runaway child. I see you taking rejection full in the face and loving anyway. Managing explosive defiance and hurtful misplaced anger and loving anyway. Lying awake not knowing if the angry words "I don't want to live here!" will still be true tomorrow, and loving anyway. Standing firm when the going gets tough and many others would get going. I see you.
To the adoptive parents keeping hope alive for your child's first family, I see you. I see you pushing fear and possessiveness aside and reaching out in radical ways. I see you offering to fly across the country or even across the world, just to help your child make connections with their other family. I see you sharing your Father's and Mother's Days, sharing their birthday celebration, sharing the precious child that you've fought so hard to protect. Doing what will make their heart whole even when it might hurt yours. I see you.
To the foster family barreling towards the 8 month mark, the 12 month mark, the 24 month mark with the tiny human that you've parented for over half of their time on this earth, with no more permanency than there was on the day that you first met them, I see you. I see you struggling to balance your longing for healing for their first family with your longing for the baby that you love to not experience any more loss. I see you planning first birthday parties and making plans for preschool and wondering how you'll transition the baby who knows only you as Mom and Dad to their next home, if it comes to that. I see you.
You guys inspire me so much. Everyday people doing extraordinary things. And I just want you to know that you can keep going even when it feels like you really can't.
I believe in you all so much. Let's keep kicking ass at this mission together.