That feeling, the same feeling I felt when I heard the word divorce, as my dad left and watching my mama scramble to buffer and protect. Like the day I heard the word cancer and months later, that precious man of mine walked in the back door and told me my daddy was gone, a funeral is coming. And when days later in that church cathedral she placed those images on a large screen set to music, my daddy with her kids, his new family. And you sit there in that pew and you can hardly breathe. Your tears flow hot and steamy and it hurts to swallow and somehow you think you're not going to survive that moment. That floor beneath me will surely just swallow me whole because I can't sustain anymore, I just can't.
So when that state department car pulled up, I knew somehow a wave of unknown was coming. Not the normal monthly meeting when our caseworker comes to our home, usually scheduled but unannounced this time. For your time and your answers, a stack of paper work and questions, everything documented and recorded. They inspect your home and check sleeping arrangements. Policy to see a diaper change and an undressed baby's back, they're looking and checking for all signs of harm. He begins to exit and then stops in the doorway to say this baby is leaving, not to worry, there will be a transition period. I ask how long and he says days. Days. I don't know where he's going to or how this plays out other than the requirement is to let go. Change, no, more than that, upheaval is on the horizon. My mind fumbles to comprehend as to how five days is enough to transition a life. Information and policy rattled off like making arrangements to pick up furniture or documents, no...we're talking about a life here. We don't get the download of the process, the time they've spent making this decision. We just get the end snapshot. And he walks away and leaves in that white car, and those little ones keep coming and going from the house, asking for snacks, help with homework. She has softball practice, where's her leotard, what's for dinner. The tears come quick and steady.
So here we are in this moment that for decades kept me from even lightly thinking about being a foster parent.
How do you do it, how do you breathe and keep going? How does a mama, a family, operate and comply with a mandate that opposes the way we were created to love? How to you give Him your yes day after day only to reach the end and there's no prize, nothing seen or gained for me or my family, at least not on this earth...or so it seems.
Shifted focus comes, we take the backseat because it's not about us. It's about his precious, little life. It's about that phone call that changed everything in us forever. It's about the way he was brought into a family for unconditional love and affection. A first Christmas to gaze at the lights on the tree and hear carols by the fireplace wrapped securely and safe. A community who rallied and contended, prayers and declarations into a future unseen by man but promised by the Maker who shielded and protected him in her womb. A first Easter and many Sundays before where his little heart absorbed worship and heard glimpses of heaven where it's all for His glory. It's not about us and the pieces we will have to pick up and put back together, because we will walk by his room and see that empty crib and pockets once filled with his coos will be silent because soon he will be gone.
It's not about the night torment when I wake up panicked, begging Chris in desperation to tell me where he is. His reassurance that he's upstairs asleep, reminding me it's a dream. It's not about the deepest fears that settled in that he will be forgotten, left behind, hurt, not fought for.
It's about him and what if the sacrifice wasn't there and our brokenness never yielded him the shelter and love he needed?
He needed us that winter night to say yes when we didn't know his name or where he was. He needed a family and a love so great it leaves those who extended it heartbroken and shattered, chasing every thought and rabbit trail to keep it captive. This baby needed us to fight hard for him and demand excellence, to walk into court rooms and offices with boldness, for settling to never be on the table for discussion.
Then the pendulum shifts back so quickly, because in this truth, you look and see this crew of little eyes looking at you, asking why you're crying. Wanting answers and explanations. Concrete words they can comprehend but you yourself, nothing in you understands and is still deep in shock and sadness.
It comes back to a love, a love we ourselves don't deserve and can't earn. A love from the One who is love and sacrificed so we could wake up in the mess of mud and squander, and desperately run back to the house where He waits, He will always wait. We run up the road and on the porch the Good Father sees us coming and runs to us before we can speak and throws the robe around us, a feast awaits. What He extends and what He's called us to, a deep love.
And the rescue that came this week, unexpected and impossible change that stopped and changed the course of this baby's life. A love that challenged and fought hard the policies that blindly blankets these children. Contending to the Lord for the only breakthrough and favor His faithfulness yields. The kind of love that stands in a court room and speaks boldly, demanding change and not giving into the fear that we're way in over our heads. And that paper says we don't have rights and I sign documents I don't agree with and feel the nausea when the truth isn't fully given. I watch that man of mine, always brave and strong, I watch him fight hard for this baby and stand firm without wavering.
A change in direction this week. You will let go, but not yet.
If we're in this to never let go, then we're in the wrong place.
From being told it would be days, to learning we will have a little bit more time. Transition for all and the hope that when it's time to let go soon, and soon will be here before we know it, that this release will feel peaceful only because once again, the Advocate goes before us.
This baby needs fierce love. A new love that extends a lavished adoration without abandon. A relentless love that will one day soon feel empty and only the Father will fill it back up because a family is just a vessel and it runs through us hard, and with it taking pieces of us he needs.
Saying goodbye, what does that love even look like other than a pouring out of everything we have left and a release that we weren't created for walking out in our own strength?
And he's one of thousands, and there's more coming and more waiting.
Soon he will leave us and soon, the phone will ring again. A little life will lie their desperate in a hospital crib unaware of the love and care needed to live. The need of touch, warmth, embrace, response. The fragility and brokenness in the waiting.
And we wait too, how long will this hurt when he leaves us? My heart contends and will choose to believe all I know to be true. I will not wait in fear, I will believe with everything in me that the Lord sees this precious life and will tuck him under the shelter, the wings of the Most High King.
I have to, I have to believe that Jehovah takes greater care more than I can understand.
I have to believe that every tear, every argument against the system, every time I sat in that lobby waiting for nothing. Every moment of fear and struggle, sacrifice and unknown waters we waded into was worth it. It was worth it.
One day coming, we will let go and He will put us back together and He'll carry us, because those girls are only a few steps behind us and they know the cost, the price of this new love, the investment of saying goodbye. But not today and not this week.
We will soon say goodbye and then we will lay down our swords, we fought well since the day you were born and this week, we fought hard. We called out the truth and challenged the sheer brokenness in the system. We called you by name and we watched a community of friends and family rally around you and contend for the impossible.
We will soon say goodbye and will be the saddest yes we've ever offered up to the King who promises to bring the comfort and healing only He can do, that hope and refuge poured out in my own mess and rejection of His Son, because He loved us first and that love is the only thing worth clinging to.
Saying goodbye will come some day, soon, maybe weeks. But for today, we love you and we will always love you. And you are worth standing in a thousand court rooms and lobbies.
Little one you are and will always be the apple of His eye, not a court case number or a statistic.
You are loved, His Beloved, and our Brown Bear.
"May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace."