Children in Foster Care, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference Mondays, ReunificationNov. 12, 2018

Make a Difference Monday | Loving When You Know You’ll Lose

I laid my sweet boy down in the crib tonight. My shirt was damp from his drool and my left arm was tingling as sensation slowly returned. Seconds earlier, his sleepy head rested heavy in the sweet spot of my mama arm–that place that was made just for a baby’s noggin. As I stood from the rocker, his body was limp…so trusting and so at ease. For the flash of that moment, he was mine. Life felt routine and comfortable. I was just another mom effortlessly dancing to the light music of motherhood.

And just like that, the moment was gone. I felt it first in my gut. A physical churning in my mid section. A wave of doubt and fear and darkness almost took my breath. Before my hand cleared the rail of his crib, reality rushed in.

He wasn’t really mine.

Not yet.

And maybe not ever.

How do you love when you know you’ll lose?

Thousands of steps I’ve hiked on this path and I don’t have the answer. Not one that feels cozy and sets my heart at ease. The realization of what’s at stake here surfaces frequently. Almost all conversations lead to this baby in my arms. Everyone is asking if it’s hard and if I get attached and if we will adopt. I fight the urge to roll my eyes, so I often force the corners of my lips to turn upward, but inside I’m screaming “YES” to all of it.

Most kids in foster care go back. They go back to anywhere but here. They go back to a distant relative they’ve never met or a family friend trying to do the right thing or even to a destructive home. Sometimes there’s redemption, but that’s not the norm. The typical pattern of this system involves goodbye. And goodbye always shares a seat with grief.

Pain can catch us by surprise. Other times, we are obligated to walk steady steps of selection, choosing to protect the helpless and speak for those who don’t have a voice. You have to commit to loving when it hurts…or until it hurts, because time brings trouble and heartache is often closing in.

And the closing-in can suffocate you right there in the kitchen flipping flapjacks. You hear a giggle or a cry and suddenly you realize that a piece of your heart will leave and never return. You’ll be left picking up the pieces of a dream that disintegrated in your open palms.

Loving loosely while you hold on tight is an inconceivable notion that persistently demands to be reckoned with.

Sometimes I’m great at that. I can see the future through the lens of Jesus and I know he loves this baby more than I do. I know his promises of faithfulness are true and can be trusted. But my flesh is weak and and it longs for closeness and closure. When my baby’s tiny feet press into my legs, he stands strong, held firm in my grasp. I want to stare into his eyes and tell him his security is certain with me.

But I can’t.

So I don’t.

I just touch his cheek to mine and love him for now. For this moment, he’s mine and I am his. He is safe and wanted and that’s all I’m certain of today.

Kristy Sutton

Kristy and Zach are biological parents to four beautiful kiddos. They have called nineteen others their own since starting their journey as a foster family in the summer of 2012. They say yes to the hard and crazy as they follow Jesus on this journey of surrender and obedience. Kristy loves coffee, good conversation, comfy clothes and Anne of Green Gables. She is assertive and loves change as she learns to thrive in the chaos. Follow Kristy on her personal blog, This Hard Calling.

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Comments (3) Leave a Comment

  • Thank you for these amazing words. We are foster/adopt parents who have persued this divine calling for over 21 years. We have loved and transitioned more children than we can count. A week from today we will transition.an 8 month old boy into a very unsafe placement. We love this little guy with our whole hearts. His removal will devastate my family as well as his remaining 5 half siblings. I appreciate your insight and transparency. This is a hard road, emotionally and spiritually. But, we are commited to loving these kids no matter the outcome. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  • My heart wishes I could provide security. I wish I could tell my kids, “It will all work out, and things will be great.” But I can’t.

    It may not seem like that big of a statement, but when you said, “So I don’t.” that’s one of the most honest, gut-wrenching, and wise things I’ve ever heard anyone say about Foster Care. We do what we can do, as long as we can do it.

    Thank you for your candor, and your example to the rest of us.

  • Kathy Lindemann Hijar says:
    November 13, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Foster /adopt has been our calling for 8+ years with adopting 5 of the children we have had .
    There have been others that have that special place in our hearts that we would have given a “forever” home but God had a different plan. We trust that He knows best.

    Foster parenting is not for everyone.

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