Our daughters were here this weekend. We see them about once a month now; this is not enough, but it is also too much. I miss them every single day, but I miss them even more while they are here and after they go.
It’s good for our boys, who miss and love their sisters. It’s good for the girls, who need to know that we are still here for them even if they don’t live with us anymore. It’s good for their mom, who should get a break as often as possible. I know this because we didn’t get enough breaks, and that made it hard to function.
The girls left our home nearly nine months ago, and yet it feels like yesterday. Every day it hurts, and after I got over the exhaustion of running at 120% every day while they lived with us for over two years, it started to hurt a lot more as time passed.
Hardly anyone asks how we are doing, and only a few people asked how we were when they first left. I understand. People are busy. People are unsure. Foster care is confusing. But it is also a lonely calling.
When you are a foster parent, people are constantly coming and going from your house: there are monitoring visits, therapists of various kinds, and sometimes there are sibling or parental visits. Foster parents also have to take the kids to regular meetings and appointments, and sometimes foster parents have to go to court. Yet, most of the time these meetings feel disruptive more than they feel like connections.
It’s also confusing because you are taking care of children that are not really yours. This quote sums up how I felt about them while they lived with us pretty well: “A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy & the depth of that privilege are not lost on me” ~Jody Landers.
We were often reminded in different ways that they were not our children, and yet, for two years, they were our children. They still feel like they are.
As a foster parent, I rarely spoke about what we were going through except to a few really close friends and family members. Because the kids have been through so much, there is a stigma that suggests that foster parents can’t be having a difficult time. I wanted help and I wanted support, but I was afraid to ask. Part of that is because of that stigma, and part of it is because of my own desire to do things right, and my failure to do so much of the time.
Some people think enough love can fix anything, and maybe that is true. Few people can really understand what we went through. We spent months praying and trying to figure out the right thing to do when it became clear that the girls would not be going home.
We made so many mistakes with the girls that in addition to feeling like the stress level couldn’t be maintained, I honestly convinced myself that maybe we didn’t deserve to adopt the girls. I really believed at the time that someone else could do better than I could.
We talked about adoption before we even got married. We talked about it when we were still in college and dating. After we got married, and had our first two biological children, we decided to do foster care and hoped that we might eventually adopt as well. We felt that God was calling us to do it.
We had a few shorter placements before the girls were placed with us. They were separated from their other siblings, and had been raised in a situation that most of us could never imagine. We loved them instantly, but the situations we faced over those 2+ years broke us.
The truth is that these were two girls who had been through unspeakable trauma, and were funny, sweet, kind girls who we loved, but they also displayed behaviors at home that were impossible to handle at times. I can’t share the details, and I don’t want to because those details part of their story and are private.
The amount of stress was exhausting, and we often felt that we had nothing left for our sons. They got so little of us. Our older sons mostly held it together, but they hurt too. Our youngest son was only a few months old when the girls came, and he was surrounded by constant chaos for those 2+ years. At the same time, those years he also grew up with two sisters and two brothers who loved him immensely. Somehow, our younger daughter seemed to understand that he needed protection, and she was fiercely protective of him. Even when she lost it with us and her other siblings, she still tried to protect him most of the time.
I can’t explain why I am writing this. It isn’t for anyone else. It’s for me. It’s because the pain is overwhelming. It’s because I am tired of keeping it all in. It’s because I love these girls, and my kids love them, and they are part of our family forever.
I know that some people will wonder how we could ever give them up, and maybe people will judge us. We did what we thought was right for our family, and what we thought was right for them. I still think maybe it was the right thing; at least, I try to believe that. But I also feel the pain over, and over, again every single day.
It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. They are back with their biological siblings permanently, and that is an incredible blessing from God. We are grateful that we still get to see them. But they will never stop being our daughters, and maybe it will always hurt.