On Loving and Letting Go

 

I remember vividly when my daughter was born over a decade ago. I remember seeing my very own heart beating and operating outside of my body as she wailed until the nurses placed her in my arms. As her dark blue eyes found mine and her tears dried from her bright red face, one of the strongest human bonds formed instantly. Every force within me would love her, protect her and nurture her until I breathed my last breath.

I also remember how, over the next few years, a deep sense of a lack of control dominated my spirit. I remember waking up in the middle of the night in sheer terror that we would somehow be separated. Perhaps she would be kidnapped or one of us would die. Perhaps as she grew older our relationship would grow cold and this child, who grew within me, who shared my very own blood, would be happy to avoid my phone calls and never come to visit. These fears may be shared by every mother or the result of my own crippling anxiety, but nevertheless, they were very real and absolutely terrifying. They kept me up many nights, sobbing.

I remember debating with God as He asked me to give Him control. I replayed the story of God asking Abraham to take Isaac to be sacrificed on the mountain in my mind over and over on those sleepless nights. I told myself stories of women I knew who lost their precious babies. I told myself I would be crushed into a million pieces and would not survive that loss. All the while, God gently asked me to release my white-knuckled grip on my child and give her to Him. It was an incredible act of faith and obedience, and not one that could occur instantly. I had to let go one finger at a time, and fight the urge to regain control every day.

I can’t help but think about how this experience prepared me to be a foster parent. Recently, our family took the placement of a little guy, Blake*. I fell completely in love with him instantly. The urge to nurture and protect him came full force as it did with my daughter years before. While I don’t share the same deep blue eyes and he doesn’t share my blood, I am the role of his mother, even if it is only for a short while.

The difference this time is that I have to hold him in my arms with the willingness to let go. I have to fully and completely trust God in his sovereignty in Blake’s life. I don’t know where he will be in six months or a year, but it doesn’t matter. My job right now is to love him with every ounce that I have while holding my arms open to allow him to be bonded with and possibly reunify with his biological family. Some days it feels like blowing your last breath of air into a balloon, just to release the balloon to the sky.

One of the most difficult things for a foster parent to do is to love, cherish, and invest into a child who was never ours to keep. Peace comes from remembering that all of our children are truly gifts from God. Ownership and control belongs to God alone, regardless whether the child shares our blood. He is sovereign and good no matter what our view is from this side of heaven.

 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the child.