These are the nights when loving deeply hurts the most. Our foster baby who has been with us for nearly 15 months, left today to go live with her adoptive family. We are overjoyed for her future journey, but our hearts hurt deeply at the pain of saying goodbye. This is the side of fostering few people talk about. It’s the part everyone wishes they could avoid. It’s the part that everyone thinks they aren’t strong enough to go through, until you’re faced with it and have no choice but to walk this path.
There are so many things I do that are wrapped up in little A. Some I didn’t even notice until tonight. Multiple times tonight I almost shushed my family because she was sleeping, only to remember, she’s not asleep…she’s not even here. I cried as I held her little red pajamas with white polka dots on them. It was the last thing she wore today before we changed her into her outfit and kissed her goodbye. Memories are flooding through my mind, as well as regrets that I didn’t spend every second I had with her. But truth be told, even if I had, it still wouldn’t have been enough.
No amount of time would ever be “enough”.
There are memories tucked deep inside my heart, moments between just her and I. I’m so thankful to have those and to have had her in my life for as long as she was. Little A was the longest placement we’ve ever had. She came to us at just a few days old – a skinny little thing. And now, almost 15 months later, she’s one of the healthiest chunks of baby I have ever seen. She lights up the room with her smile, she laughs from deep within her belly, and she gives the best little hugs.
Those are the things I’m missing most right now. I don’t want to experience the pain I’ll feel in the morning when I wake up and remember she’s not here anymore. I don’t want to feel the heartache of not hearing her laughter from her crib and the pitter patter of her jumping with excitement when she knows we’re coming to pick her up. Mornings were among my favorite moments with her, as was kissing her goodnight and holding her close as she fell into a deep sleep.
There’s something so peaceful about a baby who trusts you enough to fall asleep in your arms. There’s something so heartwarming about a little one who cuddles up on your shoulder and starts breathing softly because they know they’re safe.
So many people tell us that we’re so brave or strong for being able to foster, but more so, for being able to let them go.
My friend, letting them go is the hardest part. I didn’t feel very brave as I shed tears holding her one last time, as I kissed her tiny forehead. The truth is though, the strength and the bravery are in the doing.
Bravery is in the action of loving, caring for, and protecting these helpless little babies who are relying on us for their survival. The bravery is in saying Yes.
Yes to caring. Yes to protecting. Yes to loving. And Yes to taking on the overwhelming pain of saying goodbye, so they don’t have to experience the pain of their situation.
Little A was loved as though she were our own. And because of that, my hope for her is that this transition is one free of pain. I’ll gladly take the teary nights and the aching heart to know that she won’t ever need to experience that.
And until we see her again, I will hold these moments close to my heart and thank God for the opportunity to play a role in her life. I’m tremendously grateful for the time we had with her and I am eagerly awaiting the time we will see her again.
Until then, I will remind myself it’s not goodbye.
It’s simply, “Until we meet again.”