I Am A Foster Mother

I have heard that there is a balance in foster care. A delicate tight-wire act. The constant push and pull of two opposing strengths. A conflict of interest that must be maintained.
Holding on tight. And at the same time. Letting go.
I disagree. There is no balance. This is no act. There is no tug-of-war between two opposing sides.
I must be all in. 100%. Fully given. To both sides.
I must hold tight with all that I have.
And with equal passion. I must let go.

I am a foster mother.

Sometimes I play this intricate role well. And other times I forget.
Sometimes I fight my battle with all the right tools, with intelligence, with grace. And other times I stand up in hot anger like a grieving mother bear.
Sometimes my head leads and I calmly and logically remember the very specific role I have been given to play. And other times my heart jumps in the driver’s seat and the emotions come spilling forth in a raging torrent of love and a desperate cry for justice.

I am a foster mother.

I forgot last night. My role. I forgot one of the aspects of who I am called to be.

I was angry.
I wanted to use every vulgar word in my vocabulary to describe how I felt about how things were going.
I wanted to give speeches and write letters.
Stand up and shout.
Go before a judge.
I wanted justice.
I wanted fairness.
I wanted perfection from a broken system full of broken people.

My hubby heard my rants. He listened through my sobbing tears. He comforted my angry mother heart. And then he said,

“But honey, he’s not our son.”

And there it is. The crushing truth that somehow also sets me free in my role.

These are not our children. We are not their parents. We have a role to play. And for these precious babies’ sake we must. We MUST do it well. We must do it with passion. We must fulfill it in overwhelming love. We must be willing to sacrifice and we must be willing to fight.

But we must do all of that with hands that are open. With minds that grasp the reality that ours is a role and not a true position. Hearts that will allow love to bubble up and overtake that truth in a passion that doesn’t follow logic. Our arms must embrace tightly and also open on command. Our feet must stand in firm protection and yet softly turn to the side to allow an open path. Our time must be precious. Valuable. Treasured. Prioritized. Because the next moment is never promised.

I am a foster mother.

In my mind’s eye, I traveled back to the room where all this had taken place. I put myself back in that seat. Studied every face around the table. And as their words played over again in my mind, I remembered. “He’s not my son.” He is someone else’s son. A ward of the state. A child in need of services. Every other person at the table had a role to play. And for this precious boy’s sake. I must fulfill my own.

Did I fight as best I could?
Did I say the words that needed to be said?
Did I hold back the phrases that would bring damage?
Did I make clear the information I was privy to?

Yes. And if yes, then my role there is fulfilled.

And my heart must travel back home. Back to this place that houses this precious boy. This boy who is the son of my heart. Back to the place where I must love. Protect. Heal. Strengthen. Comfort. Teach. Uplift. Encourage. Nourish. Guide. Inspire. Cherish. And…yes. Foster.

I am a foster mother.

This is my role. Here is my strength. My gifts. Here lies the time I have been given to make a difference. And I will hold tightly, fulfilling my role to the best of my ability. I will fight for it and stand strong in it until the day comes. The day when they tell me my part no longer needs to be played. They will ask me to open my door. And then, I will open my arms, and I will let him go.

I am a foster mother.

Legally, my role is now finished. Completed. Un-needed.

But God has provided and now I will continue on. I will boldly approach the throne of grace. I will stand fast in my role. I will cling to the truth that this child needs me each and every day. I may no longer have a small frame to tuck into bed at night, or cheeks to kiss, or hair to tousle. But I have pictures. I have memories. I have a responsibility.

And so, with a newfound sense of loss and love, grief and responsibility, I will look at those pictures on my wall. All my babies near and far. And I will kneel on the stairs and I will pray. They need me now just as desperately as they needed the food and shelter I had once provided. My role has shifted. Has changed. Has broken my heart. But my role is also still very much the same.

And though, as I kneel, my heart cries and wonders, questions and worries, I must still completely give myself to both sides equally. As I kneel with weeping or with calmness and grace, I must open my arms completely to give that child into the care of my Sovereign Lord, and I must hold tightly to the role which I have been given.

I am a foster mother.


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