There is a little baby boy sleeping soundly on my chest as I write this. He doesn’t weigh much. Only a smidge under 9 lbs. However, one would think – judging from the heaviness of my heart – that he weighed a couple tons.
I have only known Mr “I” for 7 days. I firmly believe in love at first sight. It’s happened to me a couple times in my life and that Wednesday morning was no exception. The adoption of our daughters had been finalized only a week and a day when we got “the call.” Fellow foster parents know what call I’m referring to.
“…baby boy…almost 2 months old…dropped off at our office…adorable…needs a bath…length of placement is guessed to be short-term…adorable…baby boy…”
We hadn’t really planned on being ready that fast, but there is nothing quite like a call like this. In my years of reading as a teenager and young adult, I always loved the stories of foundling babies. Babies who appeared on your doorstep or young ones left on church steps. There is something inside the heart of a mother (whether she is already a mother or not!) that aches and longs for the idea of a little one that needy. Someone unable to care for themselves who needs you to love them. Love them, snuggle them, care for them. A little one who has experienced the opposite of this kind of care creates a cry for love that you simply cannot resist. These calls from DCS are the modern day equivalent to that. And you fall in love. Hopelessly, fully, completely in love. Maybe because you know it’s right. Maybe because you can’t help it. Maybe because you know that every child – no matter how long they will be in your care – deserves to be loved with the unconditional, secure, unending love of parents. Of a daddy. A mommy.
I am writing this just an hour after receiving another call. This was the call letting me know that we would be saying goodbye to Mr “I” today.
And so, my heart is heavy. Heavy with a weight that is so very multi-faceted. Weight. Deep in my bones and echoing in my heart.
I believe that the special love of a parent to a child always comes with weight. That ache deep in your heart that is hard to describe. However (without having experienced the weight of love for a biological child personally), I believe that the weight of loving a foster child is very different. The weight of the deep, instantaneous, embedded in your heart forever love is tied together with a pain that is equally as strong. And, those two emotions are tied so closely together it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. It touches each aspect of your life as you care for these precious children.
When you count the fingers and toes, reveling in their tinyness, there is the weight of wondering – how did it feel for biological mommy to count them during those first hours of life.
When you hear the tiny snores and feel the weight of a soundly sleeping body, there is the weight of pain – not yours, but the pain felt by a biological parent not experiencing these moments – not even knowing where their child is.
When you are awakened with cries of night terrors or devise special feeding plans to provide nourishment that was lacking, there is the weight of anger – anger directed towards whoever could treat a precious child in such a way.
When the smile directed at you is a result of your voice and face, there is the weight of loss – knowing that this little one does not belong to you.
There is the weight of moments lost to you that you will never know, the weight of responsibility to cherish the moment you are in now – not knowing how many you will have, and there is the weight of handing the child back to another person – probably forever.
There is the weight of knowing that you have given this child a place in your heart. Forever. And the weight of knowing that you will not always be there. You won’t always get to heal the hurts, or calm the fears. They will probably have to experience those again and your arms will not be there to hold them.
And, as a believer in Christ, there is the weight of trust. Trust in the all-sovereign Saviour. This weight must be the heaviest because He is the only one who sees and knows all things. He knows the desperate longing of my heart to see this child again. For eternity. He hears the fervent, tear-filled prayers that the introduction to His love received in our home – no matter how brief – would be a seed. He sees the path of this precious little one – things that have been, are, and will be. And He loves. So much more perfectly than I ever could. He is good. And He is the one we must cling to. He is the one who called us to this kind of love for others and He is the one who will hold our hearts in His love as the weight breaks them over and over again.
And there is the settled weight of peace. There is peace in resting in the care of our loving Father who knows the weight. Who has experienced the weight. Who will bring justice, right the wrongs, and wipe away our tears. In His time. In his perfect plan.
We love you, little man!
~ for Ian (8.26.14)