We said goodbye to baby girl today.
It wasn't easy. Not that I thought it would be, but I thought that with her only being in our home for four days, it wouldn't be as bad.
I was wrong.
It started last night during her middle of the night feeding. I jumped up at her first whimper and as I picked her up, I (doubtfully) wondered if her bios will do the same. I know that my efforts were exaggerated this week. After all, she was only with us for a week, so it's easy to jump at the first whimper in the middle of the night when you're only doing it for a few days. I know the reality is that even the best mother in the world experiences the overwhelming weariness as the months of jumping up in the middle of the night wear on. The exhaustion just overcomes you and you don't always jump at the first whimper. Sometimes you lie there praying that whimper will be a solitary event and everyone will roll over and go back to sleep for another few hours.
But as I jumped out of bed and lifted that little bundle into my arms and sniffed her baby scented head, I wondered.
I suppose I will wonder a lot in the next hours, days, weeks, years.
Wonder if her bios will keep it together and be able to do right by her.
I know it's cynical, but after my years of professional experience in this child welfare world, I know that love isn't enough. Everyone wants to believe that it is, but the truth is, the type of love we humans are capable of giving is not enough. We're not created to be selfless. That's why parenting is a sacrifice. Parenting is constantly choosing selflessness. It's a minute by minute choice. Some people are just not capable of making those choices. It's not always their fault - my professional experience tells me all of this. But my heart wonders.
Her bios may love her, but will they be able to parent her the way she deserves to be parented? I selfishly put our (Erik and I) parenting skills on a pedestal as if we are perfect. I know that we are not, but I do what a cynic does - I judge.
It's not fair. But nothing about this situation is fair. Even knowing what the results were going to be going into this situation, I still find it all unfair. But that's me being selfish.
Maggie, Whitaker and I drop baby girl off at the agency so she can be transported to her bios. The caseworkers tell me that both bios completed their drug screen and everything came back negative, so they are drug free.
Cynic shouts in my head, FOR HOW LONG?????
I nod my head and say, "That's good."
With nothing else to say, I tell the caseworkers, "Thanks." I'm not really sure what that means, but somehow it seemed the only thing to say and I grab my children's hands and we walk out the door. I try not to sniffle as the tears well up in my eyes - to put on a brave face for Maggie.
We drive home and I stop and get them a donut hoping that the sweet treat will distract them from what we'll see when we walk through the doors at home.
This empty bouncy seat that just a few hours ago snuggled that precious pink bundle with the little rosebud mouth. Maggie sitting next to her slightly pushing on the wire frame so that baby girl will feel that comforting motion.
The basket of folded girl things and the little bunny hat with matching slippers. Everything had been washed and folded to be used by her. Most of it never touched because she wasn't with us long enough.
The swaddler that I bought on a whim just for her. The only purchase I made just for her.
The pacifier I found randomly last week. The irony of finding it just a day after we had been called about possibly taking a baby girl. She didn't really care for it, but it's still on the green side table just in case.
Of all things, a bag full of tiny, dirty baby diapers.
And her last bottle sitting by the sink waiting to be washed.
Such simple, little, and insignificant things, yet their presence is overwhelming.
As we walk through the house and see these things, the house suddenly feels empty. Maggie looks at the empty bouncy seat and we look at each other and tears fall. Maggie tells me that she misses the baby. I tell her that I miss baby too. I remind Maggie that this is what it will be like every time and if she thinks it's too hard for her heart, we will stop doing it. She tells me that it is just sad for today. I tell her how proud I am of her and her brothers for being so loving and caring to baby girl because I am so proud of them. My constant fear is that our endeavor to live out our ministry will negatively impact our children.
I don't tell her that my tears are more about sadness of wondering what the future holds for baby girl. Each item I pick up to put away brings a bittersweet feeling. The joy it was to hold baby girl for a week, to care for her and love her. The sadness of saying goodbye to her. The prayers said for her over each item I pick up and lovingly put away.
Maggie and I decided that we're going to try to find a pink storage container to store all of the girl things so next time we have a baby stay with us, we can pull it right out. Just about everything is packed up waiting to be put away in a newly purchased pink storage box.
And I'll pray the first of many prayers for the future of our very first foster daughter.