foster parenting- pain when child leaves

Beautiful reflection of a dear friend on the joys and sorrows of fostering…. shared with his permission and the hopes that it fills you foster parents with encouragement and refreshment. The work you do to support and serve these kids is hard. I thought you could use some beauty to wash over your hearts.

[Written by a man of deep religious faith.]

“We are about to take a well-deserved family break, for a week at the beach. The ocean seems to help our family reset. Personally, it reminds me of how insignificant I am and how creative God is. We have nothing planned per se, although each of us contributed to a list of “things we would like to do” for the week–the one thing that each of us really wants to do. (For me, it is taking a long walk with my wife, looking for sea glass and sea shells). But I digress…

Our family is currently settling in to a new normal for a few months. If you know anything about our clan, we generally tend to jump before seeing what the cost will be. It leads for unbelievable testimonies, but boy oh boy, it hurts a lot as well.

This morning I woke up ready for my last day at work, I threw open the curtains to look over the freshly mowed law and then I glanced down…

I saw those telltale sticky finger, snot nosed, knee high marks that are the betraying signs that a toddler has been at your window. The kind of marks that trail them where ever they go.

Immediately I was a little grossed out and thinking that I needed to clean that up. You see, toddler “stickies” are not one of the high points of fatherhood in my book. But then, then I realized that our current toddler generally does not have sticky anything (especially this bad). Our current toddler generally does not put her nose to windows and drag her face around on it.

No, these tracks were from the two that went home only a few short weeks ago. These tracks are from two little boys who I fell in love with so deeply and completely that the hole they left will probably never completely heal.

That hole will scar and maybe even numb for a bit. That scar will be another in a long line of being a “foster parent” scars. War wounds that I would never accept willingly, but happily accept knowingly, because I know that is the cost of loving someone for as long as you can. That is the cost of “unconditional love”, when you have no control over it.

So, I have thought all day about these marks on my window. Of whether I should clean them off or let them stay. I think I have decided that I’m going to clean them this evening, before our family heads to the beach for a reset.

Secretly I am hoping that when I return, maybe I will have forgotten the marks were there. I am hoping that when we all return, maybe we have a little more healing and a little more scarring from that latest heart break.

Fostering is not for the faint of heart, but I cannot help feel that most of what the Lord asks us to do, is for the faint of heart.

In the end, I only end up with a clean window, waiting to be smudged with someone else’s stickiness. And I am ok with that.”

Beautiful and important words.

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Image credit: Lisa E