I left off yesterday with the love passage from I Corinthians 13:4-7. I have to say that it’s an impossible list to always completely live out as people who can’t see the end from the beginning, like God can. But I thought a lot about that chapter while we were going through the whirlwind few days getting ready to let go of sweet Baby A.
I had a lot of negative feelings about the whole process, the suddenness, having no say in what happens and when. The day came and some of us went with my daughter and Baby A to the agency to literally turn her over to a case worker, who would turn her over to the new foster family. There was no private place for this to happen. It was in a busy lobby where everyone going anywhere in the building had to pass by or walk through us to get to elevators and offices and hallways. And there was no provision for our daughter to even meet the new foster family. I truly felt if we were dropping an animal at a shelter there would have been more care and concern taken. I guess you can see that two years later I still need to work through the bitterness I feel about this whole process. It really is hard to always live out love.
There was, however, a truly saving grace in this whole experience. Outside the parameters of the agency rules, the new foster mom wanted to meet my daughter and let her know something of the family where Baby A would be placed!
What a gift!
My daughter was able to meet with the new family, see them interacting, and introduce them to our sweet girl. They were able to talk about her routine, her habits, her challenges. Things like how many ounces of formula she drank at a time, and how she got hiccups a lot, and any medical issues.
These were things that had worried me, because there was no procedure for relating the details of how a baby was being fed and cared for, what their preferences were, what soothed them, in the way the agency handled turning over a baby from one home to another. The needs every mother learns to meet in her child that she would worry a new caregiver might not figure out were not their priority.
Maybe you noticed in yesterday’s post there was one thing I didn’t mention in the things I cannot speak to. I can’t tell what my daughter felt and thought during this whole process. Those things are hers to tell.
But I can speak to what it is like for a mother to lose a child.
Because even though she wasn’t referring to herself as Momma yet, that’s exactly what she was. She had picked Baby A up from the hospital when she was ready to go home at three days old, and had cared for her ever since. Her life revolved around this little one’s schedule. Her time was no longer her own. Or her sleep, or even showering and cooking and cleaning on any regular schedule.
And she chose to do this all by herself. We were happy to be able to help her out, we knew how tiring it was when it was two of us caring for our first baby. I used to call my husband Calgon, as in “Calgon, take me away!” from the bubble bath commercial, needing five minutes to take a shower and be all by myself when he got home from work.
But my daughter took on the never-ending job of caring for a newborn on her own. And she was doing a fantastic job. When there were issues, she addressed them. She advocated for this baby’s needs, for her health, her nutrition. She cautiously had begun to talk about how long having no contact with the birth mom could go on before they would consider placing Baby A for adoption. She did all the things every mother does for her child.
And when the call came, this young mother had no choice but to agree to give up her baby to strangers.
So the offer to meet from the new foster mom was a huge balm to her mother’s heart.
The only person who seemed to be oblivious to what was going on was Baby A herself. From the day she got the news, we spent as much time at our daughter’s and with Baby A as we could. No more daycare. No outside activities. Just all the baby time we could get. We took lots of pictures, put together her scrapbook, recorded our voices in a book, wrote letters to her.
And by the time the day was almost there we were wrecks. Physically ill, sleep-deprived, swollen eyes and stuffy noses. But always smiles and soft words for our girl. At least my daughter had a glimpse of the family she would be turned over to, and she felt confident that her good care would continue.
And she would be with her brother!
Standing in the lobby of the agency, not knowing who any of these people were but needing to stay out of the mix and let the procedures play out, I tried not to cry while taking it all in. I watched my daughter juggle the baby and some of her things in bags. We had carried in boxes and more bags of her belongings and turned them over at the security counter.
Then Big Brother walked in with another foster mom who handed him over to the caseworker and left. He was all eyes, taking in his baby sister. I could tell he wanted to get closer, so I asked him if he wanted to meet her. I introduced them, and encouraged him to gently put his finger in her hand so she could squeeze it. His eyes lit up. My husband charged him with protecting and caring for his sister, and he gravely nodded in agreement.
And much too quickly it was over.
Two months of loving this child, caring for her every need, physical and emotional and relational. The loss was so real. But through the miracle of grace we were not without hope.
Because outside the normal procedures, God had orchestrated a way for us to know this child would be cared for. Not only was the new family interested in exchanging information to make a smooth transition for Baby A and Big Brother, they expressed a willingness to stay in touch with my daughter, send her updates occasionally.
Our loss truly became a win for these siblings who were enchanted with each other, who needed a home that could nourish and support them both. And we needed to know this first foster child would not fall through any cracks and be in a loving home. We went from only knowing a date my daughter had to turn over the baby, to knowing where she was going, knowing it was with people who were experienced and caring.
Knowing she would be with her brother, and that she would continue to be loved. On her way to truly belonging.