How I say goodbye…part two

The first part of “how I say goodbye” was more literal; things that I do, my “steps/lists”. etc. This one does relate, but it’s more philosophical, why we do what we do.  Why having to say goodbye is not a good enough reason to not foster.

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*DISCLAIMERS…  1)I’m pretty raw & honest in this post.  Some of you have probably said these things to me or other foster parents…& I don’t know how to repond to that. I don’t really want to apologize…but at the same time, I DO NOT want anyone feeling awkward around me after reading this.  2) I have NO training in counseling or psychology, so I am sure there are people out there who God has made so sensitive that they really couldn’t handle fostering. & even some of our friends who fostered 28 kids finally had to quit because it was just too hard.  I believe God made us all different & He has different plans for each of us, & fostering is not what He’s called everyone to do…we are just very passionate about it. ok, onto the blog that I typed up over a month ago but just couldn’t bring myself to post.  I have so much more to say about it, but will keep it limited to this…. for now….. 😉

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The question I get most often is “How do you do it? How do you send them back?” Surprisingly I’ve even had case workers ask me this.  But usually it’s not a real question, it’s a statement. Because it’s followed (without waiting for my answer) by this: ” Because I couldn’t do it. I’d want to keep them all.”

I’ve asked several other foster parents if they get this question &  yup, it is the main question we all get asked.  sometimes several times a day. & It’s almost always the same thing…more of a statement than an answer.  & honestly, it’s just really frustrating.  I’m working on my attitude to turn this into an opportunity to be salt & light & all that…but it’s hard when like I’ve said, what, 3 times now…it’s a statement people give us, in disguise to look like a question.  Rarely does someone really want to listen & know how/why we do what we do.

One of the foster parents I asked this to has been fostering for over 15 years.  She & another seasoned foster mom gave me what they say, how they respond. & helped me feel more normal in that they’re still frustrated over this “question” even after years of getting it.

Why is this question so frustrating?  well, honestly not doing something just because it could be emotionally hard just seems wrong.  I don’t think the Bible says anything like this “If something starts getting too hard for you, just don’t do it. It’s ok.”  Actually it says quite the opposite:

Sacrifice:

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God.  And I want all of you to share that joy.” Phil 2:17

But The Bible also gives us great strength, hope & peace.

“In this world you will have many trials & sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

So here’s my (& several other foster parents) answer to the question of “How I do it”

  1. For me personally, God has called me to do this & so I do it.  He’s given me a type of personality that doesn’t attach easily.  & that LOVES babies.  It’s been a good fit that I’ve really become aware of only in the last year.
  2. It is AMAZING the affect even a short period of time can have on a little one.  SOOO much brain development happens in the first 4 years & sadly these kids miss so much of it in a home where they’re being neglected. But just a little bit of love can significantly impact them.  Who knows what the time in your home will have on their future.  Also, they’re getting to emotionally & spiritually be in a safe, loving place, that they may never know exists otherwise.
  3. Honestly, there are some kids that it’s not hard to say goodbye to. They will be loved, liked, well taken care of, etc.  But sometimes there just isn’t that connection/attachment which comes unexplainably.
  4. Here’s how a seasoned foster mom worded it “I also tell them that it is painful when they leave but I feel proud to know that I was able to give them a safe and secure place for however long i can knowing it may be the only time they may have it and that it may make a difference for the rest of their lives. That i can make a difference in the lives of these children no matter how painful or heartbreaking it is for me.Where would these children be without people like you and me who put the children first  before ourselves.
  5. Recently my friend Laura wrote on my facebook this comment, which I think encompasses sooo much sooo well: “Thank you for fostering and risking heart ache to love these children.”  Thank you Laura!! How that statement has soothed & comforted my heart.

I still don’t have a great answer when people “ask” me how I do it, how I give them back.  Hopefully one day I’ll have some all-encompassing short answer that grabs people’s attention is beyond brilliant. HAHAHA!! LOL!!!  for now, I try to answer how I can, depending on the asker & the situation.

& although I know that no one means it this way, when people say that this is almost what I hear:

“I don’t know how you are hard hearted enough to do this. My heart is so tender & loving that I would break into a million pieces having to give a child back, but you must just not care much…yup, that must be why you can do it. So I’ll just love on your foster kids since I’m too delicate to handle being a foster parent myself.”

Another fostering friend brought that up to me last month, that that’s how she feels when people say it to her.  I am so glad that it’s not just me that feels like that.  Anyways. ok. probably made this one long enough for now….but I have a part three developing in my mind…. 😉

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One Response to How I say goodbye…part two

  1. Holly Walling says:

    Thanks, ML, for sharing your fostering adventure – it really is a journey, isn’t it, with many breathtaking (both awe-inspiring and heart-stopping) moments along the way. Though we’ve only had one foster placement, I can identify with so many of your experiences – from the decision to foster, to the comments of others, to the saying goodbye and the surprising compassion and prayerfulness God has given me for the child’s family. Its good to encourage one another in this calling – thank you!

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