foster care: looking back…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An imminent change in caseworkers in our current case (because that’s how most agencies like to roll – flipping the caseworkers around willy-nilly whenever they need to. There is an unbelievable amount of turnover in Children’s Services.) has reminded me of our beginnings in foster care. I pulled up the pictures of the kids we first cared for, relishing the happy memories, painfully feeling each memory of brokenness anew.

I remembered that first day when we got the call. How we were so excited and anxious and terrified and downright naïve. We drove to the waiting room of the local medical clinic. That’s where we met those children for the first time and picked them up from. A waiting room completely packed with sick kids and tired families. Our medical center is the kind where whole families come to the visits: mom and dad, all the kids…We signed the papers at the little kids’ table next to the bookshelves where dozens of curious eyes watched us intently. I still can’t even believe that’s how they transferred those children to us. I would have insisted it be different if it had happened today.

We took a picture once we got them loaded into the backseat. Regrettably, I was too nervous and excited at that moment to truly see those two hurt little kids. Looking at that picture now is just a sharp knife to the heart. There are countless more moments like that over those next three months. Moments where I was too inexperienced, too scared, too busy to notice all of the ways they were telling me of their pain.

I would do so many things differently now. I would slow down. I would listen to their actions, realizing that they couldn’t use their words. I would help them heal in ways that I was incapable of doing then. Now, I know what it means when a kid smears poop or when a kid requires not a single moment of discipline during three whole months of parenting. I would know what to tell the caseworker when she came each month. I would do better.

At the end of those three months, I got dressed on that last day they were with us. The oldest little girl watched me from my bed. I put it some beaded hoop earrings. “I love your earrings. They’re so pretty. You wore those earrings the day we came to live with you.” she said.

I didn’t even remember, but that’s the moment that burned into her little memory. She proceeded to tell me every single thing I was wearing that day, picking the items out from the closet.

I have flashes of memory, images from that day imprinted forever into my head. But so did she. Now, I can’t help but wonder what little pieces of that terrible, terrible day are still there in her head. Does she remember more than my earrings? Does she remember that I sat beside her bottom bunk for hours that evening, holding her little hand until she fell asleep? Does she remember that I kneeled beside the window with her while she wished on a star? Does she remember that even though I didn’t know how to help her heal that I loved her intensely? Does she remember Jesus?

We loaded them up into the backseat again. We drove them to their aunt’s house where they were going to live with their dad. He and their aunt graciously granted us a moment of privacy in the backyard. We said our goodbyes, gave hugs, knowing that they didn’t really understand that this was goodbye forever. We got back into the car and drove home, happily broken. We had prayed for reunification. We had pushed for it to happen more quickly than it did, but still when it came, it was the sweetest pain. That night, we sat on that empty bottom bunk, all four of us, and cried.

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan