“Congratulations,” they said.
Congratulations?! For what?
We’ve been congratulated time and time again since Charlie’s arrival– as if I had given birth to this baby.
But I didn’t.
We’ve been congratulated for our first foster placement because, as they say, “This is what you were wanting, isn’t it?” Well, the short answer is “Yes, and no.” We do not want to have foster children in our home the way we want to eat ice cream on a hot day. We want these kids in our home in the way I want to offer aspirin to a hurting friend. I’m sorry this is your reality, but let me do what I can to help.
And so we say, “Yes, and no.” Yes, we know we have been asked to throw open the doors to our home and let the hurting, broken, needy, helpless people in. We know this is our calling. Yes, we want our home to be a place of refuge, a sanctuary, a healing place. Yes, we know this is what we are to do, so having our first child placed feels like a milestone. But the “no” is also a loud, deafening “no.” No, we do not want to raise children not born to us. It’s like wanting to only have headaches in the morning, but not the evening. No, we do not want headaches at all. We do not want children to need homes.
This isn’t our baby, and his arrival in our home is not a joyous moment; it is deeply rooted in tragedy, loss, and separation. There’s a woman out there who is physically paying the price of labour without a beautiful baby boy in her arms. I think of her often. Is she still bleeding? How is she coping with the emptiness of her home and the fullness of her breasts? Is she pumping? Her body doesn’t care that there is no baby to nourish.
And me? I yearn to nurse him, to comfort him at my breast. And so, as I think of her dealing with post-partum hormones, hair loss, blood, engorgement, drastic bodily changes, and more, I mix bottles of formula, run the dishwasher daily, and sanitize bottles.
Yes, our first placement is deeply coloured by loss. We’re reminded of this fact a million times a day, cleaning up a mess we didn’t make, wearing ourselves out doing work that isn’t ours, and calling him by a name we didn’t choose.
And though joy doesn’t surround the circumstances of his placement in our home, we marvel at the miracle of life. A life that made it, against all odds. Life that will go on, with or without his biological parents, and we pray that he wouldn’t just live, but that he would thrive.
So please, don’t congratulate us. How dare we throw a party celebrating his arrival in our home, when the only reason he is with us is because plan A didn’t work out?