My heart broke a little yesterday morning while sitting at my kitchen table during our county social worker’s monthly visit. Our agency’s case manager also met with us at the same time. She mentioned the likelihood of reunification and I nodded as usual, contributing to the conversation how the birth parent visits were going. The next court date won’t be for another few months, but it suddenly hit me that our sweet baby girl, with whom we all have quite fallen in love, might be leaving us sooner than later.
Waking up to her morning giggles and putting her down, gazing at her sleepy smiles and giving her endless bedtime hugs makes me feel like she’s really mine. Although I didn’t give birth to her, I am her mom, performing all the tasks and feeling all the emotions a mom would with her own child. But she is considered a ward of the state. How sterile and cold that sounds.
A ward of the state.
Who sees, photographs, and documents all of her baby firsts? Who cheers her on and makes sure all her needs are met? Who lavishes love upon this sweet baby girl? We do. My family does. She is ours for a time.
She is truly our daughter. She is our boys’ baby sister.
But then there are visits with her birth parents and extended family members, where I sit and supervise their interactions. They love her so much and give her hugs, kisses, smiles, clothes, and toys. There are doctors’ visits where I have to provide extra paperwork to be filled out and turned into our foster agency and DCFS. When a foster child gets hurt, it must be immediately reported to the case manager. There are endless appointments with all sorts of professionals who each play an important part in this world of foster care.
These extra things jolt me back to the reality that I am only a servant, a long-term babysitter for the state.
However, this is exactly what God has called our family to do, to serve others. Jesus healed the sick, made the blind to see, and the lame to walk. We, of course, possess no supernatural power of our own, but He does live in us and allows us the privilege of being a part of His healing of the broken-hearted. And it hurts.
It hurts to think of the day when I will no longer be able to tenderly look into those bright, big brown Latina eyes that are always looking for me. The eyes that light up and smile when she sees me, tracking me as I walk around the kitchen, whether or not I make eye contact. I will miss the happy baby babbles of single-syllable consonant-vowel sounds. I will long for the times when she cries, but calms down immediately just before I scoop her up into my arms. I will remember the peaceful dark nights when I sneak into her room to check if she is too cold or too warm while she sleeps.
How precious it is to be a mom, knowing that a child delights in you, even just the sight of you. What a sweet gift from my God.
She doesn’t know that she doesn’t look like me. All she knows is that I am her constant companion, providing for all her needs. She doesn’t know what to call me, but she knows my role is that of her mother.
My desire is to be like Hannah, who communed with God day and night, knowing that only He could open her barren womb. When He did give her a child, she gave little Samuel back to Him to learn to serve Him full-time in the temple. The day will come when I will have to let go of my Baby S, trusting that God will take care of her in her birth family. I long to pray as Hannah prayed, “pouring out my soul to the Lord.” (1 Sam. 1:15)
“So I have dedicated him to the Lord, as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:28)
She isn’t mine…she is His.
My dedication of my biological and foster children is a little different, in that I won’t be sending them to a temple for a priest to raise them, but I know they really belong to God. I am to be a faithful steward of all my children while they are young and still under my care, despite my inadequacies, raising them to know Jesus and to fear the Lord.
So I turn my eyes to my Rock and hold on tightly to my baby girl until it is time to let go.
“There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)