The Foster Mamas Heart

More than 15 years ago, I was stuck behind a line of cars at a stop sign, in early evening traffic, when I looked to my right and saw a woman on her porch rocking a little baby and kissing him on the cheek.  It was springtime, a beautiful day, and I remember thinking how much I wanted to be her.  Not because she wasn't sitting in a car in traffic, but because watching her there, on her front porch swing with her baby was exactly what I wanted: to be a mom.

This afternoon, I had a pretty surreal moment.  My husband Michael had taken our 3 girls to the park to give me some time alone. And it was such a nice afternoon I decided to read outside on our porch.  There I was sitting on my front porch, on a swing in the springtime, with a gentle breeze blowing, and was holding a sleeping baby. Crazy.  Almost the exact picturesque moment I saw over 15 years ago, I was living out, today. I could barely read my book, I was so overcome with emotion and awe at what was happening.

Today is Mothers Day, and while I have so many reasons to celebrate, my heart has been heavy most of the day but I couldn't quite figure out why.  Michael did so much today to make me feel special and loved: I got to sleep in...45 minutes past my regular wake up time, amazing! (..that's not sarcasm, it doesn't happen so any extra time is really, truly amazing.) He made me breakfast, and the 3 girls hid behind a couch and surprised me when I came downstairs, bursting to shout "Happy Mothers Day" and "Here, Mommy, open your present", "Here, Mommy, I made you this card", and "Hey Mommy, umm, can we eat a cookie for breakfast?"  I was given treats and cards and presents, and got to attend church with them and my Mom and have lunch after with her. I was and am, truly thankful to be celebrated by my people.  I waited 35 years to get married, and then became a Mom for the first time at age 36 (then 38 and 39), so this day doesn't go by without my complete awareness of what a gift it is to have been blessed with children, especially when so many years passed where I wondered if I would ever be someones Mommy. 

But I finally realized late this afternoon what it was, the sadness that was hanging over me, the heaviness that I felt as we went through the day.  As I was sitting on our front porch, swinging on that swing, the baby I was holding was our foster son.  As busy as today was, I kept having moments where I'd think "I wonder what she's thinking", or "Does she even know what today is?" or I'd just pray "Please God, be with her". See, as I'm rocking this sweet baby boy, who, as far as I'm concerned, is my baby boy, legally he's not.  I know full well he spent 7 months in another woman's womb, and while she has not been in his life since she gave birth to him, she still has legal rights to him. He's her biological son. And I've been thinking of her all day as I've taken care of my boy, her son. 

Being a foster parent is really a bizarre thing.  While beautiful and wonderful and hard and scary, its bizarre. I'm taking care of and loving a child that legally isn't mine. I've been asked, and said yes to, taking a child into my home and giving them a safe place to live, all the while knowing they could be gone at any moment.  Something like this might cause one to put up some walls, keep a little distance, harden your heart. After all its human nature to want to protect yourself, protect your heart and do anything possible to keep from hurting.  And one way to do that would be to not get attached (this is the #1 thing I've heard from people when talking about foster care, they couldn't do it because they would get too attached). But see, there's this little boy, who is sleeping on my chest, who just let out a little sigh, because he is safe, he is loved, and he belongs. To us. To our family. He needs to attach to someone, he needs unconditional love and affection, he needs a family, he needs to belong. He needs someone who will put him and his needs above their fears of getting hurt and broken hearted.

Michael and I decided that when we said yes to being foster parents, that we would treat any child that came into our home as if they were ours.  And we have.  We call him our son.  Our 3 daughters call him their baby brother.  We love him as if he was our own. He deserves this. For reasons I will not describe in detail, for the sake of his privacy, his biological parents cannot take care of him. So that's where we come in. This is not easy, and I don't know what the future holds. But I know right now that his biological mother is out there somewhere and I am rocking her baby.  I am taking care of him, and have been since we brought his little 4 pound self home from the NICU. We have been the ones to get up with him at all hours of the night, to take him to every doctor appointment he's had (he's had a lot), to stay by his side when he was so sick he was hospitalized for days, to feed him every bottle, to give him every bath, to know what he likes and what makes him laugh. We are all that he knows. 

But I think of her today.  She's his biological mother and I wonder what she's doing today. I'm hurting for her and hurting for him and loving him and not sure what to make of all this. While I hope God has it in His plan for us to adopt him, and make him legally ours, in spite of that not being our reality yet, we still consider him actually ours. So today, on Mothers Day, regardless of what tomorrow holds, I'm thanking God that today He has given me 4 children to love and care for, 4 children to call mine.

Happy Mothers Day.