Our children were harmed in and through relationships…and they will heal in and through relationships. ~Dr. Karyn Purvis
It is 6:30 AM.
I stare at my worn face in the mirror.
No makeup. No mask.
The house is quiet. All are asleep.
Little Bitty’s ringlet-headed self is still fast asleep in her pink tip-top loft bed.
I ponder her struggles with self-protection and trust.
My face reflects back a similar girl.
The line becomes blurred between who I am and who she is.
Little Bitty’s effort to claw and grasp any sense of control in every part of her little world.
My personal struggle with faith, hope, and control.
Trusting my Father and His plan.
Wanting to control my life.
Last week, a painful orthodontic appointment for my nine-year old, along with the other children who had money blazing a hole in their pockets, I found myself pushing a buggy in the toy aisle of Target.
While the other kids were picking out Legos and Barbies, Little Bitty’s eyes wandered across to the baby aisle like the shelves were dripping with candy.
I think how ironic that she devotes most days stomping her tiny feet declaring loudly that she’s a big girl, like our other kids.
Inside Target, near the baby section, she reverts to an infantile state.
You see, on the inside of her soul, something is missing from those crucial developmental years of babyhood. Her first 16-months were not full of nurturing attachment.
Maybe she didn’t have much eye contact as a wee little one, possibly she went for long stretches of time without being fed, having her diaper changed, or being picked up. What Karyn Purvis calls Birthright Preciousness was lacking in those first 16-months.
This gift was poured into her little soul consistently for two years afterwards by an amazing foster family.
God’s design is for children to digest their history through play. Their brains develop and grow new neurons through loving interaction and attachment.
God’s plan was for her to be moved to our home near her three-year old birthday. The transition was handled carefully and slowly, with much care given to her spirit and grief.
However, with any move to a new home, a child’s trust is shaken.
The shock wave that hit her last month– that she wouldn’t live with her brothers– added another layer of intense grief and lack of trust.
As she’s attaching to us, she longs to be a baby again– from the depths of her being. Her brain’s attempt to recover lost time from early days.
As I stroll through the toy aisle with the big kids, Little Bitty shouts and points, There’s the baby section!
I ask, Would you like to go pick out something like last time?
Yes yes yes!, she wholeheartedly squeals, her arms raised in tiny fists like she’s cheering at a football game.
She remembers a few weeks prior when she excitedly played with a friend’s baby. Strapped on his infant seat, was the type of dangling toy that when pulling it, it would stretch out long. Upon release, the plush animal would rattle and vibrate, shrinking back to normal size.
Little Bitty searches the baby section and discovers a similar soft monkey.
She cuddles it all the way to the check-out line– giggles, vibrations, and rattle sounds marking our steps to the front of the store.
You can bet the first thing we did when we got to the car was strap that toy onto Little Bitty’s big girl car seat.
She may be going on four-years old, but at the heart of her being, she is a wee baby longing to inhabit the space of baby in our family.
Longing to be the infant she never got to be.
We will purchase as many infant items her heart desires.
We will forge the route necessary to re-build the foundation that is cracked.
Just as Christ does for us– taking our broken, shattered lives and inserting Himself as the sure and strong foundation– our strength, our cornerstone.
So, when she struggles to trust that we will provide for her, we will again and again and again faithfully pour into her little bitty body.
Into her little bitty ears.
Into her little bitty soul.
That she is wanted.
That she is precious.
That she is fiercely loved.
That she was longed for and prayed for before she even came into our home.
And on the days when I’m frustrated at that little bitty girl and her older siblings, I pray the Father would remind me over and over and over again how much MY broken life needs rescue.
How many times I daily need to be reminded of my firm foundation in Christ.
Because I am fearful.
And I mistrust.
And I am faithless.
And I desperately long for the love only my Father can give.
It feels like such a small thing, taking baby steps, to purchase an infant car seat toy.
But it’s really a larger thing– doing the small things for Little Bitty– re-creating her babyhood– is really so much more.
By God’s grace, we are giving her a firm footing to ultimately trust the One and Only Father to the fatherless.
May we cling to him as well.
On our darkest days.
In our brightest joys.
He is always, tremendously, unswervingly, without fail, perfectly loving us.
Delighting in us.
There is nothing, nothing, that can separate us from His love.
Praise be to God!
Melanie and her husband, Kevin, have three biological children and live in Birmingham, Alabama. They have been foster parents for two years. More of their story and journey can be followed at Melanie’s blog Running to the Father.