A few months after our second foster baby left I bought a charm bracelet. Yesterday I added a charm. This time I didn’t go alone to remember and grieve. I brought my little ones with me to remember and celebrate a baby we loved.
I asked, “Which one reminds you of Jason?” My five year old pointed to the elephant “because it’s a boy and Jason is a boy.” (Apparently all elephants are male?) The seven year old liked anything pink. My two year old just wanted to touch whatever he could. I began to doubt the wisdom of bringing them.
Then, “we should get the heart charm because we love him.”
I noticed the tense she used, not loved as I had said, but love. Removing this baby from our home didn’t place our love for him in the past. We can still love him, just like we still love Meg and Jenn.
“The heart is perfect, Katie,” I told her.
I didn’t add it to my bracelet then, with the small ones clambering for my attention. I waited until later when I was alone. We stopped at a park and the little ones ran off to play, to run. Blond, red, and brown hair shining in the sun. Sundresses whipping in the wind. Shrieks of laughter. Calls for mama to join in. Life continuing so free and bright as …
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 …