Our Babies’ Mothers

our babies mothers text

So, baby girl left us a little over a week ago to be reunited with her brothers and her grandmother.  I wish I could show you how very happy she was to be with those boys.  She leaned in and hugged them and laid her head on their shoulders – and then proceeded to run and wrestle and laugh and yell with them.  She was clearly home.  It was one of those placements that ends with a sense of peace, knowing things are moving toward a good place.

Then we spent the better part of the following week getting ready for “the new babies.”  The babies who didn’t arrive.  The babies the county asked us to take because they were in a temporary, emergency placement.  The babies the county then forgot to tell us could stay in that placement, after all.

Ultimately, it is a good thing.  It means one less abrupt transition for them.  But we were so ready to welcome them.  Diapers, toys, food, car seats, clothes.  All of it.

So, we now wait for our next placement call.

It’s a bit surreal to wait for a foster placement.  There is a strange mix of anticipation and excitement – combined with the knowledge that you are really anticipating someone else’s world falling apart.  A mother is out there, caught up in circumstances much bigger than she can manage on her own.  And they are crashing in on her.

I never forget my first meetings with them. They call it the “ice breaker” meeting.  But it should really be called the “figure out a way to connect and reassure this grieving mother in the span of ten minutes that you really will do everything in your power to help her succeed as a mom and that you will protect and love her baby with everything in you” meeting.  They fight back tears and hesitate to look me in the eye, clearly terrified and heartbroken and having no choice but to let their little one leave with a stranger.

So knowing that someone’s world is moving toward that moment where someone steps in and takes their children from them is a sad weight.  We have all had those moments, haven’t we?  Where it feels like the entire world shifts under us and we aren’t sure how we can continue.  I may not ever reach a place where someone takes my child from me, but I can still remember those terrifying, world-shifting moments and imagine what this baby’s mother is experiencing.

In a sense, I feel like we have a unique advantage in being able to approach a relationship with our foster babies’ mothers – we aren’t seeking adoption, we aren’t holding out for termination of their parental rights, we aren’t waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We can freely hope and pray that they receive the help they need, that they succeed in their treatment plans, that they seek out support and community, that they are able to decide and participate in whatever future is best for their child.

In general, I spend time with these moms twice a week when I bring the babies for their visits – time we are able to spend communicating about their child.  Over time, as we begin to trust each other, it becomes a team effort and we even begin to build a sense of being on the same side.  I look forward to that aspect of this next placement.  I enjoy getting to know our babies’ mothers.  I think of them often.

And do you know something?  Every single one of our mothers has said thank you to me.  A relationship that could so easily be fraught with envy, distrust, and fear – instead turns toward gratitude. It catches my breath each time. It is a holy moment when I am reminded of the privilege and responsibility given to me as I step in for these mothers during a vulnerable and helpless season.

As I wait for our placement call, I also wait to meet this mother and wonder about the ways I can reach out to her during what will likely always be one of her life’s most terrifying and world-shifting times – I pray that we can build a sense together of being on the same side.  The side of health and love and wholeness and resource and community – and all of those things that each and every one of us need to parent our little ones.

———

with hope and gratitude,
Jennifer

signature J and Avi

for more about our family’s foster care experiences, read Room for More and What Adoption and Foster Care have Given My Children

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2 Comments

  1. Joy Headrick
    May 2, 2016

    I am so proud to call Jen my daughter in law. She is a gifted writer and knows how to put into words what most of us are thinking. Always makes me cry. Thank you, and love you.

    Reply
  2. Christine Carter
    May 3, 2016

    Oh what an incredible calling you have to help those precious mamas care for their babes! I am in awe of your heart and your mission. THANK YOU for being God’s Hands and Feet in creating a safe place of comfort and trusting assurance for children who need it most.

    Reply

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