by Heather Bock
On March 11, after two months of living with us, our sweet foster daughter was picked up by her case worker and taken to live with her maternal grandfather until her parents are capable of caring for her themselves.
I have grieved for the loss of several beloved family members, including my 29 year-old sister, and I have suffered a miscarriage, and I can say losing my foster daughter was the same as a death to me.
Some might think, But you knew it most likely wouldn’t be a permanent arrangement. You knew she’d probably go back. Didn’t you expect it? Didn’t that knowledge help?
Does it help for a mother to know that the baby she has just given birth to will most likely die in two months?
Although she isn’t legally mine, I love her like she is mine. When the caseworker drove away with her in the car, sobs choked me. She took a piece of me with her. She took my child. For weeks afterwards, despite my three biological children, I kept thinking, My arms are empty. I felt a heavy hole inside me.
And that was only after two months. Many foster parents care for children for many, many more months than that, and if they’re doing it right, also loving them just as much as their own.
Why do this, then? Why put our home back on the call list? We do this because it’s not about us. It’s about giving love to a child who desperately needs not just a place to stay or three healthy meals a day, but love. These children are in one of the most vulnerable positions they’ll ever be. Love hurts and is extremely hard sometimes, but we still choose love. God definitely doesn’t call every person to foster, but we need to be careful about saying no to anything God might be calling us to only because it will hurt.
I am thankful, though. God was so kind to me, placing my sweetheart in what appears to be a very good, loving, safe situation. She was also too young to be as seriously traumatized by the separation as I was. I can’t imagine what it would be like, what it is like for hundreds of foster families who can’t say the same.
God also moved the heart of my foster daughter’s mother. She saw that I love her daughter. She resolved to send me pictures of her when she could. I don’t know how long she will, but she has occasionally already sent some adorable pictures of a happy girl, which has eased my heart tremendously.
I have another immeasurable comfort. When I made my foster daughter’s picture memory book to send along with her, I wanted to include a verse. I immediately thought of an obvious one to add, a message I would want her to know: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Before I included it, though, I paused and thought that I should pray about it first. I prayed for just the right verse, and immediately Jeremiah 29:11-13 popped into my mind: ” ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’ ” God has a good plan for her.
In addition to this, in the weeks preceding my foster daughter’s imminent departure, I prayed desperately for her future, for her protection. I remember one night on the way to work, it came to a head for me, and I was praying with all my heart, asking for hope, all the while trying to keep from crying before having to teach my students for the night. I came to a lull in my prayer, and I felt like I should turn on the radio to calm myself. The first words that came pouring out of the speaker, at least as I heard them were, “There is hope, hope, hope for the living; hope, hope, hope for the living.” All hope for dry eyes and saving mascara was gone at that point.
God has gone out of His way to comfort me and give me hope for my foster daughter in more ways than this, and all I can do is trust Him and leave her in His loving and capable arms.