Fostering: 'In the moment' loving
It’s been over 2 weeks now since the little girl came to our home in an ambulance. She has the biggest, darkest eyes you will ever see and is so given to smiling and cooing. Truly she is the most adorable three month old baby.
She is our first foster placement and while she is such a joy the experience is not without work. She came by ambulance because she had to stay in a horizontal position on a pillow. Both of her legs were broken. She had a fractured rib and a couple of other injuries. We kept hearing over and over again about how much force it must have taken to result in such injuries. Something about baby’s bones being like green tree branches – very bendable and hard to break. We still haven’t heard the story of how she was hurt. I’m not sure that I want to.
Her biological parents aren’t giving any information. A relative has come forward requesting to be considered to take care of this little girl. If they pass their homestudy, most likely she will leave our home and go to her relatives.
The question we have been asked so much, which I imagine a lot of foster parents must get, is, ‘How do you keep a balance of loving her and not holding her too close since she may not stay?’ I think it is a natural question to ask; after all, how can anyone relate to that who hasn’t walked through it personally? It’s a good question – it’s a hard question.
What I have said is the balance is not like that of a scale, where the increase of one side (or awareness) diminishes the opposing side. Rather, I think it feels more like a yo-yo in the hands of a novice. I myself am such a novice so I speak from metaphorical experience. You see, when I hold this little girl, feed her, wipe her chin, make her smile and watch her eyes light up, it is wonderful and natural and smooth (like when the yo-yo is magically doing what it is supposed to). Then every once in a while I think, ‘she might not stay forever.’ This feels like a radio bulletin interrupting a song, and the result is a sort of jerking feeling around my chest, much like a yo-yo being clumsily jerked upward. At times I feel a little sick from it. And then I remember that there is nothing I can do to change the future, whatever it may be. I have been given today, and so I hold her tighter and give her another kiss and try to make her laugh more often.
It’s the same response I would have if I heard that my biological son was going to be taken away, perhaps from an illness or something. To say ‘I would feel sad’ would be such an understatement; but at the same time I would be keenly aware of every second I had left with him. While I certainly think the duty of a foster parent is, in part, to remember that the child is not fully ‘yours’ so long as they are under ‘foster’ status, I also don’t know how anyone could ‘guard their heart’ from loving a child. Loving a child as though they are your own does not require them to actually ‘be’ yours, though at times this may prove more difficult than others. And yet, at the end of the day this baby is in God’s hands and no one else’s. Just like my biological son. Just like everyone else in my life I hold dear. And honestly, shouldn’t that be a comfort to our hearts? That is, at least, what I keep reminding my own heart.
Practical tips we have tried to help our home to love ‘in the moment’:
What helpful tips have you used in your home to help you and/or your household with loving ‘in the moment’?