It’s no secret that we’re fostering a fabulous, beautiful, cuddle-bug of a little girl, and as of today, she’s been with us five months.
When they first brought our Little Miss to hockey practice, we didn’t know how long she would stay. We were terrified of losing her that next week, but she stayed. And stayed. And stayed.
We learned early to take everything one little hurdle at a time, and never to look toward the big picture. The big picture, in foster care, is… well… terrifying. We never look further than the next court date, the next decision to come down in her case. Instead, we celebrate little victories.
That first phone call during week one, where our social worker told us she’d be staying with us for foster care, I burst into tears. I couldn’t help it. We fell in love with her instantly. How could we not? As each court day passed, and she stayed longer, we celebrated those victories, always reminding the boys and ourselves that she could leave us at any moment. After all, the goal of foster care is rehabilitation and reunion.
When we found out she’d be here for Christmas? Well, a beautiful silver ornament declaring her first Christmas arrived at the doorstep. Jason had ordered it for her from Afghanistan, saying even if she left, she needed to have a first Christmas ornament to take with her. We celebrated that little victory with more presents than a baby could ever have need for, and we loved every minute of it.
Our friends and family often ask how it’s going with her. Our response? Nothing much has changed, and we remind them that this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. With hurdles. Lots of messy, painful, hard hurdles. There are social workers, birth families, lawyers… you name it. We choose to concentrate simply on loving her, and giving her everything in our power, because the average time in foster care is somewhere between a year to 18 months in a case like hers, and we’re only five months in.
Lately, it’s harder. It’s the little things, like wondering what clothes to buy her. Silly, right? I want to stock up her wardrobe with summer frills and swimsuits, but I’m terrified that she won’t get to wear them… that my heart will break if I have to pack them up to leave.
So you know what? I bought them any way. Why? Because I believe in hope.
I believe that me being in the maternity ward while her birth mom was in labor (a quirk of fate), means something in the fabric of… well… destiny. That she’s always been meant to be ours, even if only for this little while.
People ask us all the time, why would you do this? Isn’t your heart going to break when she leaves? And I answer honestly – I cannot comprehend a morning that I don’t have her smile up at me from her crib and coo good morning to whichever brother got in her room first. We. Choose. Not. To. Think. About. It. Immature? Maybe. But if I spend my time worrying about her leaving, or what was going on in the process, she’ll feel that tension. She’d feel my anxiety and pick up on it, and so would our boys. And we choose happiness and hope. I’ve stopped dwelling on what will happen in two months, and instead concentrate on what’s going on right NOW. And right now, she’s tuckered out from a long day and asleep in her little pink, Parisian paradise of a room. That, my friends, is a little victory.
If there’s one thing foster care has taught us these last five months, it’s to live for the moment. If I see an outfit I adore, I buy it in the size she’s in now. If I see a hairbow? Yup, I snag that too. I get down on the floor with her, I tickle her a little longer. I take a moment and revel in the joy that seeps into my heart when I hear her giggle as Jason kisses her. I give in and let my soul melt a little more each time the boys give in to whatever she wants. You see, it might not be permanent, we know that as foster parents, but it’s now. And right now, we’re her family too. She deserves that unconditional love, that utter adoration, and until they tell us that we can’t be her family, we’re going to be it. Period. Because the thing about foster care, and the children in it, is that they didn’t do anything to be in this situation. None of this is their fault, or their decision. So we’re going to make this as easy on her as possible, and we’re going to love her so much that she cannot possibly doubt it.
We are five months into this process, and I can tell you that at times, it sucks. We are utterly powerless, which isn’t something we handle well, honestly. But we’re learning to let go of what we can’t control, we’re leaning on each other in the harder moments, and we are savoring every minute we have. We’re buying summer clothes, and we packed her Christmas ornament away with the rest of the family’s.
And our latest little victory? She’ll be with us for her birthday.