This is the post I have been dreading writing and have even wondered if I should write…when it comes down to it, I know there are many others out there who experience loss in fostering and maybe, just maybe, someone can relate. Maybe there is even someone out there who needs to hear what I have to say. Maybe I need to get out what I have to say…
Nearly one year ago now Baby left us. It was that time of year when the weather is just beginning to change, the snow has melted and the chill in the air is being replaced by the fragrant smell of spring. As I sit writing today it is one of those such days and the warmth in the air fills my soul. I have always loved the changing of seasons especially winter thawing and making way for the new possibilities of spring. However I fear that this time of year may now always carry a faint sting of loss.
Saying goodbye to Baby was more difficult than we ever expected. We knew when she came to us that it would unlikely be forever, we knew the day would come when we would say goodbye. Still, how do you say goodbye to a child you have loved as your own? How do you say goodbye to a child who came to you broken and empty, without the ability to smile? I will always remember the first day we saw her smile, there was nothing special about that day it was truly a day like any other, except she smiled for the first time! I knew then that we were making a difference. I knew that if we didn’t do anything else right in this process of fostering (and we certainly haven’t done everything right), we had done THAT right. Our family had shown love and provided healing to this precious little girl!
The weeks and months after saying goodbye to Baby proved to continue to be more difficult than expected. How do you explain this loss? Your child is alive and well and even thriving, but they are no longer “your child”. How do you explain to your children when they ask Baby that she is doing great, but they can not see her? How do you not think of her on Christmas, on her birthday, when you go to the zoo with your family and remember that she was there with you the year before? Sometimes holding on to the pain is the only way I have to hold onto her. So many days I have longed to see Baby out somewhere, from a distance, and watch her play, and smile and know that all is right in her world.
I don’t know if this is everyone’s experience. Baby was the first foster child to leave our home, and I can’t say if this loss will look the same with any of our other foster children that may move on in the future.
What I can say is, one year later the loss is still there but the sting has become something we can live with. Baby is still very much a part of our family story and she always will be. Her pictures are still on our walls, and cute little stories and memories of her are shared often. We welcomed Baby into our home as a member of our family and loved her as our own and that doesn’t just end. She is forever a part of us. I hope that in someway Baby’s time spent as a part of our family is forever a part of her too.