This post started out as a list of “things not to say to people whose foster children have just left their homes”(catchy, right?). Because today I am sad. And a little grumpy.
But the truth is, the support I have received over the past two weeks has been incredible. My “village” has stepped up and most of the awkward things I’ve heard have come from folks with good hearts and good intentions who fumble because really, honestly no words are quite right.
There’s just this one thing that I can’t handle.
And it goes something like this: “Oh, don’t worry. It was good practice for when you get your real baby.”
Friends, I love you. I really do.
But PLEASE don’t say this to me (or to anyone, ok?).
Nothing about foster parenting is practice. Nothing is fake.
It is all wonderfully, terrifyingly real.
This child is real. Just as real as any other child that I may (or may not) eventually birth or adopt. The middle of the night feedings are real. The doctor’s appointments are real. The visits with birthfamily are real (and, by the way—that birthfamily? They are real too.). The laundry is real. The worry and uncertainty are real. The attachment is real. The family, my family, we are real.
And so, when a foster child leaves, the sadness is real too.
We are not good with sadness. It makes us nervous and so we try to make things better, to cheer each other up, to rush through the sadness to the other side.
But, friends, the God I know isn’t in the business of rushing us through our sadness to some tidy fairy-tale ending.
The God I know isn’t scared to sit awhile and feel it all. To live the sadness just as fully as the joy that has come before (and the joy that, I am confident, will come again).
Friends, it’s ok to sit awhile here.
I am not scared of this place, and you don’t need to be either.
It’s ok to say the wrong thing, or to say nothing at all.
It’s ok to be sad.
It’s ok to just be.
Because this foster parenting thing? It’s as real as it gets.