Today, a busy four year old tells me what he learned in his class at church.
He yells it again and again.
Today he “helps” me install new smoke detectors and put pizza in the oven.
Today he snuggles into my side as I read book after book.
It feels so ordinary.
But four years ago this week, I said one of the hardest goodbyes of my life.
It’s like a muscle memory, sneaking up on me.
And it still takes my breath and makes my eyes all leaky.
Four years ago, I asked myself what would calm my heart if this Little One were my baby.
I printed photos and wrote little notes.
I folded all the tiny baby things.
I watched my sister carry my daughter out of the house as she sobbed, begging for Little One to stay.
And I sat in the rocking chair and sang until my arms literally ached.
Four years ago, I hugged a social worker who told me I was one of the good ones.
And I tried not to cry when he thought maybe I should keep some of this stuff for the next baby.
No. My heart instinctively knew.
That would hurt too bad.
Four years ago, I buckled one of my loves into his carseat, kissed his head and closed the door as he was carried into an unknown future.
People ask me sometimes if, in retrospect, I knew he would be back.
If I knew he would be here four years later sharing my home and my last name.
The honest answer is no.
Just as I hoped he might be my baby, I hoped too that I’d done things well if that was not to be.
Sometimes foster care feels like a zero-sum game.
Except with lives at stake.
My heart was rooting for his birthmama four years ago.
Even as I ugly cried in my living room and yelled at Jesus that I was so done with all of this.
I root for her still.
Life is hard enough without judgement.
There isn’t a tidy way to wrap up the story.
In adoption, happy endings are always tinged with loss.
I hated that day.
But it is part of my story. The story of us.
And I love that story.