Foster Care Reflections: When Home Gets Hard

So many times I have sat with mothers as they have cried about being away from their children. I have watched and listened as they broke down about the emptiness inside. I couldn’t imagine the crushing helplessness. I didn’t want to imagine the void it left behind. I couldn’t imagine how devastating that feeling must feel…until now.

The last moment I remember thinking everything was going to change (for the better) is etched in mind. We have watched Gilmore Girls so many times that we had planned for this! We were embarking on the first day of a new chapter of our relationship as adults. I knew things would change and I imagined all the excitement that lay ahead for us. I didn’t want it to come too quickly nor wait too long. We were on the cusp of adventure.

I sat next to her on the plane and studied every curve of her face. I watched the way her closed eyelashes gently fluttered and I imagined they probably kept rhythm with whatever music she was listening to on her headphones. I memorized the slope of her nose and her apple cheeks. I cried inside a little as I really noticed just how much as changed from the previous mental image of her first day of Kindergarten until now. She was no longer a baby. That was the last mental image I took. It was her 18th birthday. About a week ago, our daughter told us she was moving out. It’s not a good situation for her and it crushed all the plans we had made for 18 years. In the process, that new hope of an exciting new adult relationship crashed and burned. We were at a life crossroads where nobody wins. I had to let her go even when everything in me screamed to keep her close. Her vacancy has caused a space that cannot be filled by anything I put in my stomach (trust me I’ve tried). The space is vast, dark, and painful.

The only thing as deep as a mother’s love is a mother’s sorrow.

I spent a lot of time blaming myself. She spent a lot of time blaming me too. There was a bit of time where I tried to blame her, but who am I kidding, moms don’t blame their kids. That’s why God provides us with really GREAT friends. They helped me realign my perspective and my heart. You don’t just need a village for kids FROM hard places, you need a village to parent when you are IN hard places too. So what happened to cause all of this? I cannot answer that because I cannot give an unbiased and objective answer. Looking back over the years will find MANY times I messed up, but it also finds plenty of times that she messed up. Yet, we do not exist in this family or on this planet alone. We exist as part of a system. Every member of our family, our revolving home, and our community system has influenced us just as we have influenced them. Trying to say precisely what has happened over the past years which resulted in last week’s events would be nearly impossible.

My heart aches and I have no one to blame. There is a void that isn’t meant to be filled. More people will face this time with their children than we care to admit. Brokenness is everywhere and there is no magic immunity pill. Our children are bombarded with moral decisions on a daily basis and they will not always make the right choices. Does our job of parenting end there? Are we done when they leave our home? Does it ever end? I believe the answer is always ‘no’. This is where we let go. We let go of their hand and now clasp both of our hands in prayer. My comfort is that I can turn my daughter over to God knowing that He loves her more than I do. I once was that girl who ran away from Him too, but He didn’t give up on me-His grace is patient, His love is everlasting to everlasting. With Him, we are never without options nor are we powerless and neither are our children no matter what their age. Thank you 109 ❤

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