I continue to see my sweet little girls that I cared for recently as their foster mommy. They still scream, “Mommy!” everytime they see me. Yesterday, when I picked up my daughter Nia, I saw both of them on the playground. I rounded the corner and there at the fence was little P.
She is four years old, and she had her arms up with the biggest smile as she called, “Mommy!!” I went over, scooped her up and hugged her. I told her she was a good girl and I loved her. I put her down and she smiled. She followed me on her side of the playground fence all the way down to the other side where her sister and Nia were playing. Her sister also ran over and the scene repeated. I picked up Nia and headed for the door. As I walked, little P followed me along the whole fence line. “Where is daddy? What is he doing?” And lots of other little questions. When I got to the door, I blew her kisses and she smiled. Then, as I loaded Nia into the van, there was little P again at the fence. She watched me the whole time, and then something new. This time as I drove out of the parking lot, she ran parallel to my car. She was in the playground, and I was driving on the street. The playground has a tall chain length fence that runs parallel the road. My baby girl ran the whole length as I drove by. She was yelling, “Byeeeeee Moooooommmmmy. I loooove you!!!”
Oh my heart, my heart. My momma heart exploded, and then the sadness flooded in. The one million questions loomed. What does her future look like? Who will be her mommy? When will permanency come for her? Holy Spirit immediately ministered to my heart and reminded me that He is holding her and He has good plans for her. I was thankful for His quick visit because without God’s voice snapping me back to reality, I was spiraling pretty fast with all of the what-ifs. That was yesterday….. Today, our story continues. Since the two girls call me mommy when I pick up Nia, the other little ones in the class have started to notice. They see the connection, but their little 2 and 3 year old life experiences can’t quite figure out who I am to the girls. They know that I can’t really be mommy because mommies pick their children up and take them home at the end of the day. A different mommy takes the girls home, so who is this mommy?This morning a little one boldly walked right up to me and said, “You are not her mommy,” referring to the youngest sister. I will call her little S. I didn’t know quite how to answer her, but she was eyeing me and waiting for my response. When I didn’t respond, because I had no idea what to say, she repeated her declaration, “You are not her mommy.” But it was more of a question and a statement all wrapped up in one sentence. She wanted me to challenge her statement and explain who I was. I replied, “You are right honey. I take care of her sometimes, so I am like a mommy.” She looked at me and smiled so big, and she also looked relieved. It was the relief that comes when you are so confused by a situation, and then you get an answer that satisfies you. Still smiling, she had a new declaration! “You are just a little bit her mommy!” To that I agreed, “Yes, I am just a little bit her mommy.” And I am. For just a little bit, I get to pour my love into her. For a few weeks, I was her caregiver, and now I get a snippet here and there. But in those moments, I will keep telling her that she is loved. She is beautiful. She is a princess. And that I love her. I will let the love of Jesus flow from me into these little girls every chance I get. I will be a voice of peace and love and gentle reassurance that in this confusing world, someone cares and loves them so much. I don’t know if they will remember me long term, and that doesn’t matter so much as it does that each of the seeds of love that I plant gets watered.
I pray that they remember they are worthy of love and belonging. They are valuable and worth every moment I gave to them. They are wonderfully and fearfully made by the Lord and they have a very special purpose. I pray that they remember that in their time of need, God sent people into their lives to love them. He didn’t just send us, but also their current foster family and the other important adults who are pouring into them during this time. I pray they feel loved by all of their caregivers and caseworkers. And I know God is going to care for them and protect them. He will make beauty from the pain. He will redeem the story, and I will hear of their triumphs one day! Foster care is confusing for more than just preschoolers.
Adults struggle as well. We struggle with ever changing roles. We struggle with what to say and what not to say. Well meaning strangers and even friends don’t always understand it either. And it’s hard to understand because it is not original design. It is not the way things are supposed to be. Babies should be born to healthy mommies and daddies who can care for them. Life should be safe and families should be secure places for children to grow and thrive. For a wide variety of reasons, families aren’t always safe, and foster care is one answer to meet the need. Its hard to understand and the answers are hard, but we can’t stop trying. We can’t pretend the need doesn’t exist. We owe it to the little ones who never asked for this to be their story to be the adults that keep showing up even in the scary waters of the great unknown. I will keep showing up. I will keep speaking for them. I will try my best to have answers, and when I don’t, I will run to the One who does.
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