I feel like I am still processing what happened. It is the strangest mix of emotions I’ve ever dealt with: I’m ecstatic, heartbroken, thankful, worried, peaceful, and probably still a bit in shock.
My foster daughter’s bio dad made the decision to relinquish her to us.
Let that sink in for a minute.
A man who didn’t know me before I said yes to taking in an infant one year ago has asked me to raise his daughter. He wants her to be my daughter.
When the social worker told me, I think I stared blankly into her face for a good three seconds before I could even blink. It took me a few more minutes before I started crying (fortunately in the courtroom there are some private meeting rooms!).
I feel like I have been walking between two very different worlds, two profoundly different experiences for the past year. On one hand, I’ve gotten to know my foster daughter’s family in intimate detail; most people would never share all the gory details of their lives in this way and yet the very nature of Child Protective Services means that everything is out there for the world to see. I’m sure that it has to be one of the most humiliating experiences of their lives and my heart aches for their pain.
On the other hand, I’m just a normal person. I have a bunch of friends and volunteer at church in a typically middle class neighborhood. Most of us were born into the middle class and have led pretty comfortable lives so the fact that my foster daughter comes from a very different place is pretty foreign. The people I come in contact with think I’m doing this amazing thing for this little girl.
And it is amazing. Just not in the way that they think it is. It has changed my life far more than it has changed my foster daughter’s.
I wish there was someway to communicate what I’ve experienced working with Social Services and the people who I’ve grown to love there. It’s not what most of us would expect or at all like it is portrayed on TV. Hence, I think there has always been the sentiment that among my “normal” circles that I should get to keep my foster daughter. It would be an easier life for her, for sure, but it isn’t without cost. Great cost.
Those of us who haven’t been exposed much to adoption (hey, I remember a time that a lot of people never told their adopted kids they were adopted… and I’m not that old) really have a hard time understanding the loss that it is. We have a consumerist mindset in our culture and we look at it as just acquiring a new family member through a not so traditional route.
It’s not. It is a complete break with the past for this little girl, even with open adoption. Her story will always include multiple families no matter if we get to keep her or not, just from this time she’s spent with us. Imagine the conflicting attachments and loyalties that is going to cause. Because no matter what, her family is still her family. Even if I get to be legally too.
We’re not saving her. I’m simply loving her and she is going to inherit all sorts of dysfunction from me too. The only one who can save her truly is Christ.
That’s why I’m heartbroken because I know what a huge loss this is for both this little girl and her dad, but so much better than if the state were to forcibly take parental rights away. Contrary to what most people believe, most parents who end up in the sights of CPS love their kids. Seriously love their kids… and want what is best for them.
Imagine knowing that you weren’t in a position to give your child what they needed. I’d give my kids the food off my plate and go hungry without a second thought before it meant they would. But imagine not having that food in the first place.
It doesn’t really matter if it is food or any other type of resource, emotional of physical, that is lacking. It’s a poverty more than the rest of us usually deal with in the first place.
We got into this not because we wanted to permanently add extra kids to our family, though we thought that would probably happen at some point. We got into this because it needs to be done. We got into this because God calls us to reach out to others in His name. Christ ate with those who were looked down upon in society; to Him, they were lovable. They are lovable because He is love.
I need this grace just as much as the next person; I’m no better and no worse in the scheme of things. That is why this is so incredibly humbling. Beyond humbling, really. The gravity of this is probably one of the most profound things I’ve ever felt. Someone has decided to trust me enough with his child. His precious child.
I love her to death and see her no differently from my bio kids. I’ve been thinking a lot about the labels for my boys versus my foster daughter; I don’t like dividing them into different classes based on the way they joined our family. As if one is more “real” than the other. I think I’m going to switch to the terms “permanent” and “impermanent” because, truthfully, that is really all that should matter to anyone outside our family. My impermanent kids might not be around next time I run into someone, but they are my kids just the same. They are mine until the social workers tell me otherwise and maybe, just maybe, they’ll transition to the permanent category.
There is still a lot that can happen. My foster daughter’s father could change his mind and you know what, it is his right to do so. Who knows what will happen with her mother in the family courts. It is a long road before anything is legally decided. We have no control and that is okay because God is in control. We’d appreciate prayers for wisdom and patience.
But what is more, this has been so profoundly impacting for me, even if nothing comes of it, because I know that my foster daughter’s dad has seen something of Jesus in me. He feels loved and accepted enough to trust me with what is most precious to him. And that is the whole point. Jesus loves him.