I was devastated. In one short night, every one I called friend left me. I was not blameless in this event and in retrospect it was not really that night that ended things, but rather a series of choices and ignorance on my part. Nonetheless, I knew I didn't ever want to have a broken heart ever again. If it was anything like I felt over the course of the next couple years, I didn't know if I could bare it again.
So I prayed to God that I would marry the first guy I dated. To my amazement, some how, God said, "Okay." I was set up on a blind date at seventeen, and seventeen years later we are still married with a good healthy marriage. I never kissed another man, I never held hands with another man, the first man I loved, was the man I married.
In my thirteen year old mind, this one answer to a prayer, would end all possibility of heartaches. Little did I know that God was going to allow my heart to break over and over and over again.
For six years, I experienced many heart breaks as my husband and I prepared for a family. The first year was blissful ignorance. I did not expect anything to happen, because I figured the excessive amounts of birth control due to irregular periods were going to take awhile to wear off. So as the first year ended, I began to think, okay, well I guess now it's now time to try.
As the years past, we looked into fertility treatments, adoption, but settled on foster care, because it was something I always wanted to do, but I always thought it would be after we had children naturally.
Looking back now, I realize how naive I was. I was heartbroken over several years of loss after loss. I was not ready for what foster care had in store. Yet, somehow God brought me through it all.
My first foster care case, we went in, knowing it would end in adoption. It's the case that made me a mommy. I will forever be changed for the better because of her.
Then my second and third cases revealed to me that I needed to listen to my husband's gut. I learned how important it is for us to work as a team. Not just one of us making the decisions, but both of us listening to the other.
Our fourth case was the one that revealed to me that foster care is not about me, nor is it about me building a family. I learned that foster parents have no rights, nor are their thoughts and feelings a factor in the whole process. I was shocked at our treatment at times and realized that foster care is not meant to build families, but preserve them.
My fifth case has and always will be one of my favorite cases. I learned that you cannot judge someone based on what you hear about them. I also learned that you cannot judge anyone based on circumstances. I also learned that although foster parents have no rights, and their thoughts and feelings play no bearing in the overall outcome, they can impact the people involved in foster care case immensely. This was the case that told me that this was my calling in life. I also began to see a huge fracture in what I thought was a just judicial system.
My sixth and seventh case revealed that this fracture was larger than I ever imagined, but I also learned that I could love people deeply regardless of life choices and whether I agreed with them or not.
So now, I am in the midst of our eighth and ninth case.
It's going to be our last.
What I thought was a lifelong passion, has proven to be a temporary calling that has allowed me to grow as a person, but a painful calling that has left me continually heartbroken. Although I always thought my greatest heartbreak was going to be as an eighth grader, life has proven to me that there is greater pain in life.
I live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. My mind tells me two contradictory feelings, neither can I have while the other remains. I want the parents to heal and grow and become healthy, but I also don't want to lose my newest loves in my life. I tell myself that my pain will be temporary, but their pain will be permanent, so I need to be one hundred percent on their side, but I am also not prepared for another heartache.
I want to trust God, and if I am honest I do. The problem is, I know that God doesn't always choose what I think is best. He looks at our eternal glory, not at our present earthly state. I need to trust that he loves them more than I love them. He will choose what is best not from my earthly standards, but his heavenly standards.
So here I am, in the midst of the most painful situation I have ever placed myself in. I show support and love towards the parents, adore and love deeper than I ever thought possible towards the children, and then cry.
I cry for the mom who is hurting and alone, I cry for the grandparents who are fearful and in pain, I cry for the children who will lose out regardless of the outcome, but mostly I cry for me. I cry for me, because I am tired of the heartbreak. I cry for me, because I lost my trust in a broken system that will never achieve true justice. I cry for me, because I know that my hopes and desires are no more important than anyone else's. I cry for me, because I know that the best outcome will end in utter despair for me. I cry for me, because life is hard, and no matter how much people think they understand, they will never understand this isn't just another heartbreak through foster care, but a series of heartaches that began twelve years ago when I decided to leave my fertility in God's hand.
More than the heartache though, I have gained a beautiful daughter who amazes me daily with her maturity and finesse. I have gained friendships I never knew would be so rewarding. I have gained an amazing relationship with my husband that few women are blessed with. I have gained a closeness with my mom through shared grief. I have gained a faith in God that is not shaken by loss, grief, or disappointment.
Foster care has changed me. I would never have chosen my path, had I known where it would lead me, but I could never have become the person I am today without choosing this path for our family.