Someone recently contacted me about a post I wrote once about saying goodbye to our kids. I couldn’t find the one she’s talking about, so I’m going to write it again and I’m sharing it here because, well, it’s my soapbox and I can share if I want to. Also, if you read here and you have questions or want information about fostering, or anything else, feel free to email me
Grace, here’s a letter for your friend.
Dear Fellow Foster Parent,
Welcome to the trenches. I’m sure you know by now that this is the most wonderfully terrifying place to be. As I understand it, you have loved your first placement well. You love so well that saying goodbye is breaking your heart. Oh, dear friend, I get it. Trust me when I say I get it. I’ve said goodbye nine times this past year.
I have cried nine times. I have longed to look into their smiles, I have missed their smells (not all their smells, of course), missed their laughter, even missed their rage inducing behaviors. Of course, I always romanticize them when they’re gone. But the point I’m making is that I completely understand that saying goodbye is the worst part of this gig.
And that, dear friend, is the best part.
I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s truth. If saying good-bye hurts, it means we’re doing it right. We’re loving so much, we forget these children aren’t ours. We love so deeply that when they leave, we feel as though we’re losing a part of who we are. We love so intensely that even when we remember where these children come from and that they will not be with us forever, we don’t care. We don’t diminish our care, or our zeal to better their lives. If we’re loving them as we’re called to love them, saying goodbye should cause us to break into a sweat.
Because we love them too much not to give them back. And I know this will zing every person who uses love as an excuse not to provide a home for children in their time of suffering, but the truth is, if we truly love them as we wish to be loved, we understand that the best thing we can offer them is all of ourselves until they don’t need us any more. And not only are we loving the children as we should, we’re loving their parents as we should. With compassion and with generosity and selflessly. That’s the goal anyway
I understand that the first goodbye can be daunting. The first goodby can cause you to wonder if you’re really cut out to allow your heart to be broken time and time again by the loss of a child from your home, but trust me when I say that God can give you the grace to say those goodbyes over and over again. It doesn’t mean it will get easier, or that it will hurt less (though some children have been easier to say goodbye to than others) but that you will find the capacity to do it again. And you’ll find that all this heartache is totally worth it.
I encourage you to give into the grief. Allow yourself to feel heartache and let the child know how much it hurts to say goodbye. Then I encourage you to really pray about opening your home again. Because I believe that God may call you back to it again. There are children that need you. They need all of us, but if your call is to show them the love of Christ as they’ve never experienced it before, then you know that they desperately need you.
Your fellow foster parent in Christ,