No fanfare, no farewell party, and no last goodbye hugs from our family and friends. That’s how Baby D left us on Wednesday evening. In the midst of this coronavirus quarantine, we were left to say goodbye on our own, foster family to birth family. Several friends and family contacted me to try to say one last virtual goodbye or to check on how I was doing the day she left. Our boys’ violin/viola teacher even started a video chat with me to try to see her.
We received confirmation on Tuesday that she would leave on Wednesday. That’s foster care, right? No long-term planning allowed. One day we were a family of six and the next day we became a family of five. This kind of loss is different in that she is going back to where she belongs, to her parents. But she doesn’t know that. We are still her parents, in her little mind.
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
I took everything of hers out of her bedroom on Tuesday night and packed them into the brand new suitcase set that our foster agency had given her while she slept. A generous donor had gifted the agency with several sets of suitcases. Baby D slept so soundly, as usual. She had no idea she would not be returning to her crib again. Later that evening, my husband and I started watching a TV show and we heard our baby girl talking to herself. I glanced at my husband and, with a smile, asked him to bring her into our bedroom so she could hang out with us for a bit. He gladly obliged. Oh, was she extra cuddly and playful or what? She stayed for about 20 minutes before Baba put her back down in her crib. She knew it was time to fall back asleep and did not complain, silently sucking her left thumb until sleep came.
My firstborn asked if I thought Baby D would have a better life with us if she stayed. A social worker once told me that the children would have been born into that family anyway, in whatever socioeconomic situation that family happened to be in. We can’t look at the what-ifs, but what has to be. God, in His perfect wisdom, plopped her down into our family when she was only one month old and kept her with us until she turned 16 months old.
I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by. – Ecclesiastes 3:14-15
We experienced all of her firsts, rejoicing with her when she cooed, rolled over, built up her gross and fine motor skills, smiled, stood up, communicated with sign language and spoken words, and then she finally walked. No more social worker visits. No more doctor appointments. No more changing diapers nor naptimes. No more little baby hugs with her head on my shoulder when I ask her to give me a hug. No more squeals of laughter when she delights in a new toy or playground adventure. No more sweet baby girl.
I made one last trip to Target to pick up a few things for Baby D. A new Fisher Price shape toy, a big tub of Aquaphor, and tiny nail clippers. Stood in the toddler toy aisle for at least 10-15 minutes, knowing I needed to hurry out of there because since we are mandated to stay at home, I was only supposed to be out shopping for essentials. Finally, I picked out something she would be able to grow into.
My husband and my three boys wrote personal notes to Baby D on the inside front cover of the Jesus Storybook Bible. I was the last to write in it. How do I express on such a little space the love I have for my daughter who is not my own? It isn’t possible. But God knows. He knows how much I love her and that’s enough. And her favorite book. I Love You Always. She received notes from her Baba and Mama in there, too.
It took us perhaps less than 15 minutes to arrive at Krispy Kreme by 5:30 that early Wednesday evening, without the normal SoCal rush-hour traffic due to the stay-at-home mandate. All 5 of us accompanied Baby D, savoring every last moment we had with her. Her parents arrived in the parking lot just a couple of minutes after we parked. We loaded all the suitcases and bags into their backseat and said our goodbyes. Her birth mom and I both cried. Hopefully, we can meet up again at least once more after the quarantine so I can give her a photo book.
I am so thankful for those around us who loved her wholly and prayed us through the past 15 months. We have surrogate families for her when we needed a babysitter or respite. They are our village. God hand-picked each and every one of them to be in our lives and therefore, in Baby D’s life. Her cheerful smile and playful demeanor delighted many and warmed their hearts. We pray she will continue to be that playful, loving little toddler and that she will be loved fiercely. Most of all, we pray that she will one day know the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and that God will bring her to Himself, causing her to repent of her sins and joyfully live for Him all of her days. We love her deeply, yet hold her loosely.