Determination. I’m excited by a challenge. I like doing things that look difficult, and succeeding. I like puzzles. I like figuring out what makes a baby tick. It’s the competitor in me I guess. “Gosh darn it I WILL get you to gain weight or I’ll die trying!” I like taking a broken, tiny, helpless baby and seeing him or her transform before our very eyes to a smiling, chubby, babbling little person. There’s no feeling like it. I’m a fixer, Jed’s a shepherd- so I tackle the practical, medical side of things and Jed provides the heavy dose of lovin’ with a cherry on top.
When we got the call to take baby #1, who we’ll call Baby Y, months earlier than we had planned and left the hospital with her we felt all of those emotions. I remember sitting in the back seat of the car with her while Jed drove- just like we did with each of our biological kids. I also remember she screamed the WHOLE WAY HOME. Ha! Any sense of heroism or romanticism flew out the window about 20 miles down the freeway.
I’ve heard from many different foster parents that your first placement (foster child) is special. I’ll have to agree. Baby Y holds a very special place in our hearts, as do each of our babes. But there is just something extra special about your first. We learned with Baby Y what it feels like to love a baby so much it hurts, and at the same time know deep down she belongs to someone else. Her beautiful cheeks, her smell, everything about her will forever be imprinted in my mind. She was our first love.
That foster babe love is a hard thing to describe. The number one line I’ve heard from others when they hear we’re foster parents is “I could never do that. I could never give them back. That would be so hard.” Let me tell you something. It IS so hard. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But that’s what these babies, these children need. They need someone who will love them till it hurts and keep on loving, all the while KNOWING that you have to give them back. Are you kidding me? Of course it hurts when they leave. To me, at different times it has felt like a death. Most of the time we know we will never see that child again. Like Baby G, one of our boys. We had him for the first 4 months of his life. We picked him up straight from the hospital. We swaddled him and walked him at night while he shook from withdrawals. We were there to see his first smile, to give him his first “at-home” bath. We were his world, and he was our sweet little boy, and then “poof” he was out of our lives and we’ve never heard about him again. I know he will probably never know about us, but we will never forget him. He is a part of our story forever. So, yes, we mourn when they leave. We cry, we talk, we cry some more. We find a teeny stray sock in the wash and we cry some more. We have pity parties and watch sad movies alone in the dark on the couch (okay, so yes, I did that once….not a moment I’m proud of…anyway….) I always think somehow it should be easier because we always know it’s coming. But it’s never easier, not if you’ve loved them right.
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”