Recruiting for the Enemy
The day that Meggie was taken away, I sat numbly on the floor of her room, back against the wall, knees pressed to my chest, occasionally crying, but mostly just sitting and staring. My parents and sisters had arrived earlier to hold her one last time and pray with her before she left. They remained because they knew I needed them. They helped to pack the last of her things, took apart her crib, and rearranged the furniture, as if we could somehow make the gaping hole less obvious. The crib went into the attic, where it was later joined by Jenn’s. And there it stayed until a few weeks ago--
--When I took her crib, her mattress, and her butterfly quilt, down from the attic, loaded them, along with a lot of other baby stuff and five kids, into our van and headed for Wisconsin.
My baby sister Amy and her husband are in the process of becoming foster parents, and having no kids of their own, needed some things to get started. When we arrived, we set up the crib and bed, arranged the toys and books, then headed out to buy a mattress for the bed. It was kind of fun getting the room together, but a cloud of unease followed me throughout the day. There was no way to handle Meggie’s things without dredging up feelings I try to keep buried.
That night I looked down at our foster baby sleeping in Meggie’s crib, tucked her quilt up around him, and rubbed his fuzzy hair --remembering the baby who slept there before, and wondering who would sleep in this crib next. Baby J. snorted and then began to snore rather loudly, even as I grinned, tears puddled in my eyes. I love that baby so much, yet I know that at any point I could be called to give him back. Treasure every moment, I told myself.
The feelings that had been niggling at me throughout the day rose to the surface at last: Sorrow. Guilt. Pride. Guilt. Sorrow for the babies I can no longer hold, whose laughter I will never again hear. Guilt that I encourage Amy in something I know will cause her terrible pain and push her to the very limits of her being. Pride in my sister. She knows the pain and yet willingly walks forward to meet it. Guilt that I could stop her, but don’t. Instead I cheer her on.
Sometimes I feel like I’m recruiting for an enemy. The system is so flawed, so fallible, some caseworkers are good, others are like the spawn of Lucifer (not to be overly dramatic or anything). I don’t like being associated with it; I feel wrong drawing others into it. I hate to think of my sister being tainted by it, and yet I encourage and recruit, because the biggest flaw in the very broken system is a lack of foster families who care, who are willing to love again and again.
The other night I had a dream that Amy called me sobbing inconsolably. A newborn had been placed with her, and she couldn’t stop crying because she loved the baby so much and knew she was going to lose her. I didn’t feel any better when I woke and realized it was a dream because I know that it is likely prophetic. My baby sister is going to follow in my footsteps and may get her heart broken. I ache to know it, yet I am so proud of her.