Contents tagged with faith
Today I went from being the mother of seven to being the mother of six. I’ve been here before; it doesn’t feel any better this time, doesn’t seem to get easier. Maybe there are foster parents out there who get used to this. How could they keep doing it otherwise? But, that doesn’t seem to be me.
A month ago we had the first overnight. Baby with his birth mom. Me at home rocking in an empty chair beside an empty crib, clenching my arms to my belly as if to keep myself from coming apart. Then two nights. Then three, four, and now --gone. A baby inexorably pulled from the only family he has ever known.. A baby we brought home from the hospital at just two days old nearly a year ago and told we would adopt.
I was out with the four youngest at a store recently and people stopped me repeatedly to remark on how full my hands were. Yes blessedly full, blissfully full, but for just a little longer. Next time those people will see me with only the three and make the same remark, not realizing just how empty these hands truly feel.
We’ve never done it this way before. Our first two foster babies were here one day and gone the next. There was no gradual transfer. It was horrible, but the …
“Ms. Varblow, this is N---, licensing worker with Washtenaw County. I’m calling to inform you that a formal complaint has been filed against you.”
“Oh, really?” I rolled my eyes. We had been told to expect false claims by unhappy birth family, but I had thought we were doing pretty well with those we’re currently working with.
“I am required to read the charge to you: Code 9---, Hindering Reunification: refusing to return phone calls and hanging up on the caseworker on the phone.”
A stunned moment of silence and then the torrent, “Excuse me? I have never hung up on anyone in my life, and I’ve returned every call from the caseworker within 24 hours. You can check the phone records. That caseworker and I have never even talked to one another in unpleasant voices.” I went on in this vein for a while.
What a slap in the face. We bend over backward to have a positive relationship with the birth family. I count the birth mother a friend. Doing everything I can to help put the baby I love into a different home is not easy, but I do it. I want him to have the easiest transition he can. Instead of gratitude and compassion I get defamation of character. I was irate: How dare the …
Today, I sat in court with tear filled eyes as Baby J.’s birth mother chose adoption for him. Just like that, in less than fifteen minutes, he was legally a ward of the state, the first step in the process of our adopting him. As we left together, she asked if I was okay. In the elevator I thanked her for giving him, us, this chance.
A few minutes later, I closed the door of the car, and the tears came. Great gulping sobs. Joy because, by the grace of God, our baby won’t have to leave us. I’ll always get to be his mom. I’ll get to watch him learn to run, and teach him to read. I’ll be there when he is sick or scared or happy or mad. His future suddenly looks safe and secure.
Yet, so much sorrow is intermingled with that joy, because he has come to us at such a cost. Another family torn apart. Another mom who he will never call mommy. Her arms will ache to hold him, but he’ll be gone. The tragedy of our fallen world, so real, knowing that losing his birth family is what is best for this little guy.
And, I’m humbled that God’s best for J. is our family. Despite our flaws and brokenness, God has seen fit to once again bless us immensely. Gratitude overflows that He …
I have always held that each human life is precious and deserves a chance, but sometimes that belief is challenged.
As our foster baby’s birth mother rose to her feet today I noticed a tell-tale bump. We hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. Now, there was no denying the obvious. What heretofore had seemed normal post-partum weight was the beginning of another human life. Baby J. is going to be a big brother.
Pregnancy in mothers of children in the system is the norm. Our first foster baby, Megan, was the seventh child born to her twenty-five year old mother. Before her adoption was even finalized Meggie herself was already a big sister. Praise God that her adoptive family greeted Meggie’s newborn sister with open arms.
Our county faces group after group after group of six and seven siblings, groups that have no hope of staying together in a foster, let alone adoptive, placement. Rarely do any of these siblings have the same father. This causes more problems when members of the various birth fathers’ families decide to take in the ones related to them. The sibling group is broken and the sibling relationships lost.
As I loaded J. in his carseat my mind was on the baby to …
Tomorrow will mark a year since we lost Jenn. More than once I have gone to write about the day she left, the purple fuzzy jammies with white polka dots, the look on her face as I walked away… but I just can’t. Even a year later the wound is still too raw, the pain too deep.
For the first few months I felt empty and brittle, as if the slightest touch or one insensitive word would shatter me into a million pieces that could never be reassembled. Though I didn’t shatter into a million pieces, I will never be the same. And that’s okay.
It’s hard to carry a grief that few people understand. Yes, she is alive. There is hope for her future. Ours is a God of miracles. He is watching over her; He will lead her to the cross. But, the harsh reality is that this baby, who I love, is being raised by a heroin addict. Each day I need to place her back into the hands of the Father. If I couldn’t do that I would be those million shards strewn across the floor. I have learned more about trust in this last year than in my other thirty-four combined.
I can’t look at pictures of her. As I go through Photo Gallery with my kids and stumble onto a picture from those eight months, something …
One of the hardest things about foster parenting is taking a child who thinks that he is yours to a visit with a birth parent he doesn’t know at all.
All morning I am tense. My hands tremble slightly, and I keep forgetting what I am doing. I don’t even attempt to eat breakfast. The kids joke and I attempt a smile, which gets nowhere near my eyes, not having heard a word. I snap at them over nothing, and they pat my shoulder to show me that it’s okay. I pack a diaper bag overflowing with snacks, toys, and extra clothes. Finally, I get the baby dressed in a cute outfit, making sure everything matches and nothing is worn out or stained. A friend once had birth family file a complaint because the child was wearing two slightly different white socks. The story has stayed with me.
I arrive a few minutes early and hold the baby in the car until the last moment. Then, kissing his fluffy baby hair, I gather his bag and hurry across the parking lot to the DHS building. Inside he sees his parent and leans nervously into me. I talk to him happily, soothing. I whisper one last prayer that only he and I can hear. The caseworker arrives, ready to take them back to the visitation …
Ah, sweet Meggie, the first baby that I brought home who would not stay, the baby that I fell in love with in a matter of days and spent five and a half months loving and raising before she was taken from us. When she first left I e-mailed each month on her birthday to see how she was doing. After several months I called her caseworker to check on her. I was devastated to hear that, while Meggie was at that time still safe with a good foster family, it appeared she would soon be going to live in a very bad situation.
And I stopped e-mailing. I stopped calling. I couldn’t bear to have the worst confirmed. I wanted to hold onto my fragment of hope that maybe she would be okay, that God wouldn’t let that happen to her. So the months passed and I hid in my fear, embracing ignorance of the truth rather than facing the pain that truth might bring.
Finally, as an important meeting loomed, things were dredged up that I had tried to keep buried. I found that I was just barely brave enough to seek some answers. I was going to have to face the truth of Meggie’s fate no matter how much I wanted to keep my head buried in the sand. And so, with shaking, hands I e-mailed her new …
I’ll be honest, when the call came asking if we would foster Baby J. in fewer than five minutes I had said, “no.” I had plenty of good reasons; there were numerous complications with his case. Plus, we were busy. We weren’t even in the state at the time. I was already numb with grief and had five kids to care for, never mind two new puppies. I had no time for one more thing.
But, he stayed on my heart, I felt no peace, and they called again. They didn’t have anyone else who could stay home with him. They needed someone who could really care for his special needs. Yes, they could get someone else, but it wouldn’t be a good situation for the baby. I said we would consider it. Then, I hung up and asked God to send someone else.
He sent us. Sometimes God says, “no.” And that’s okay. Because He knows better than I do what J. needs, what I need, what my family needs. I’m not the first one to beg, “Oh, Lord please send someone else.” These words are just an echo of Moses, who spent nearly an entire chapter of Exodus trying to convince God that He had the wrong man, his words uncannily like my own: “But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’” ( …
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” -Psalm 82:3-4
Several months ago an evil man very nearly killed a helpless baby. During his long stay in the hospital, the baby’s little body revealed serious past injuries, showing that his short life was likely filled with pain and fear. Someone (in their infinite wisdom) hung a picture of this man right there on the wall in Baby J’s hospital room. That first day, I snuggled Baby J in my arms, careful not to touch his wounds; I looked at that picture on the wall, and I felt that I had come face to face with evil.
We brought J home on a Wednesday. It wasn’t until the following Monday that I was able to read through his hospital discharge papers. When I did I wanted to pass out, to scream, to shake, to vomit, but I simply wept. For two days, I wept. How could anyone do these things to another human being, let alone a small baby? The reality of human brokenness, evil prevailing where love should have been.
“Deliver us from Evil,” I’ve always prayed, faithfully reciting the words Christ taught. I prayed them …
When you look at a helpless baby, whose body will bear the scars of a grown man’s rage for the rest of his life, a lion awakenssomewhere within, ready to defend that child at any cost.
The wounds we bear from the loss of our foster babies still bleed crimson, as I bend to pick up little J. from the hospital crib. His eyes are glazed, his diaper dirty, every inch of his face covered with burns. My hands tremble as I gently lift him, not because I am nervous, but because I am afraid. I know where this path leads. I will fall helplessly in love with him. Our time will be too short. He will go to live with relatives as the plan already indicates. I will be left with a broken heart, mourning his loss as those who came before him are dredged back to the surface of my grief. Is that a place I can choose to go?
I haven’t decided that I will bring him home yet. But, if I don’t, who will? I cuddle him close as a recent conversation with my five year old replays in my mind.
“Mommy, when is baby Jennifer coming back?”
“I’m afraid that she isn’t coming back, sweetie.”
“But, we can go visit her! When can we go visit her?”
“I’m sorry, honey, we can’t see her anymore.”
“Why not?” …