I remember once, my brother asked, does it make it harder or easier?
This baby, this little one, placed in our care.
After the losses, the babies taken, the pain and grief; the now holding and swinging and swaddling…
Does it make it harder or easier?
Yes, I said.
It makes it harder, and it makes it easier. The baby stuff out, not getting dusty in dingy basement; music playing, lights shining, joy bringing. This makes it easier. A nursery sitting empty only adds salt to empty womb wounds; to see filling of space with little one- this is balm.
And then it makes it harder. Every snuggle, every coo, every “first”, and with each the reminder and ache- oh, what we lost. This- these sweet smells and smiles, the tiny toes and cuddled love. Oh what we lost.
There’s the complexity and confusion in community- no, she isn’t our biological baby, and no she doesn’t “make up” for the ones we lost…
How do we explain this?
We started our foster care journey long before our journey of loss. This was never meant to be our back up plan for growing our family. It still isn’t, because at some point in all of this the false melody of “our plan to grow our family” gave way, and hands must simply be opened to Sovereign chords.
And I remember the painful juxtaposition, graduating our foster training course moments after first seeing blood. A trip to the bathroom revealing agony.
Standing there with our certificates and a plastic smile painted across my face. Act silly, the person taking the picture said. How do you act silly when all you want to do is scream? The key is in the verb- act.
That’s the first time- the first time I felt the pain multiplied, over-spilling and encroaching outside its territory, robbing joy not only from womb but from our adoption journey as well. How could I celebrate while bleeding death?
In ways, the harder.
But in other ways, just the hard. The normal, expected hard of foster care. All, made harder, from the loss before.
The pictures we can’t post, can’t share. Adorable face hidden and cut out. Babies’ presence missing from family pictures, and baby here but missing full presence in family pictures.
The bio visits and home studies and appointments and intrusion.
But most of all, hardest of all, is the awareness- she’s not ours.
While I stand barren, I hand her over to her, hear them call her “mom”.
I look back on the journeys, the days I was bleeding, losing, belly not growing. Those same days, her, injecting, lost, belly growing.
That deep nagging question.
Why can some and others can’t?
This, the hardest part of foster care, the entering into the dark, and knowing she’s theirs, and not mine; reminding myself she’s His, and not knowing- will He take her too?
It’s a lot like climbing Mount Moriah.
Each visit, each process, each day- all steps up the mountain. This journey, this ever getting closer to the top and not knowing- will He provide a ram, or will He ask for her?
These months and months of the gift of having her, and yet this ever present awareness, knowing that at any point anything can happen. Give her back, pack the bags, say goodbye. No more kissing cheeks or causing giggles or comforting sad.
What matters most is that she knows you come back, the doctor says. Her separation anxiety with us high after visits. I sit by crib and wait until eyes shut in sleep, to keep the screams and sobs away.
What if one day I don’t come back?
To her, I betray. To me, I break.
Each court trial feels like the top of the mountain. It could be. Not knowing the outcome, oh so aware, anything can happen. Are we at the top?
The last trial, social worker calls. Suddenly we’re at the top. Plans of reunifying, logistics to figure out. The knife is raised, He turns it and cuts me clear through. We leave the mountain, still holding her, still having her, yet I am slayed.
“God, I have to see You! I have to see You!” I sob, after receiving that call, being given just days left with her. If I don’t see Him, see His hand, I’m afraid- I’ll lose all hope. The darkness suffocates.
Social worker messages- the plans changed.
A ram provided. Another way. We are given back the gift of her. Given back the gift of maybe.
Another trial starts as I type this. The awareness presses, the painful pressure and reminders- she’s not ours, we have no control, we can lose her.
And it all triggers, the ones before, the babies gone. Not ours, no control, lost.
This weight pushes me down, but the truth comes with light, the perspective shifts to right, and in all these agonies and uncertainties it’s the only way.
They are all His, always His, always held. His control, His hand, sovereign grace.
And none is lost, never lost. When each little is recognized in their proper place in His hands, the Father our Perfect Parent, planning all for His glory and our good, there is no loss.
I may be slain, there may be no ram at times, and the climb can crush. But when the eternal pushes back with its perspective and the Almighty guides you with His eye, and the knife transforms with Kingdom work…
…then there is hope. Always, always, hope.