As I shifted positions under Sleeping Baby Girl, smoothing her soft hair over her forehead, the foster mother continued her story: "They tell me: 'Fostering must be so difficult--don't you get attached to those babies? Isn't it hard to let them go when it's time for them to leave?'" So I tell them, 'Well, yes, we do get attached.'"
"And that's the point," she told me during our visit last week. "How could you not get attached? You do.. and you're also given the grace to live with it."
Parenthood, I've already realized, comes in many forms. I have now learned that foster-parenting (and even in my case, hopeful-parenting) is no different. To be any sort of parent to a child is to be attached, to Love him, to want only good things for his life, and to make sacrifices for his well-being.
And folks, we are attached. We have given our hearts over to this Little Girl in a real and complete way. We have opened ourselves to the joy and love and happiness of knowing her while we can. But that also opens us to the terrifying uncertainty of our future relationship with her. It makes us especially vulnerable to the very real possibility of losing her.
We could have done things differently. We could have guarded our hearts while we waited for more certain prospects. We could have pulled out of the case entirely when we heard the details, to wait for a more convenient situation, to become parents in the way we thought was best.
Or we could have guarded our hearts in more subtle ways. We could have not visited her at all, or only a few times, mostly ignoring the fact that a little girl whom we could be parents to someday was growing up not too far from us. I could have decided not to pump, and neatly avoided an every-two-hour reminder of hoping to nurse her someday.
But then we would have missed the point. If we believe that God really does have a plan (and I do!), then this Sweet Girl was put in our lives for a reason. Why is anyone ever put in our lives? The first answer, always, is to love them. How could we have abandoned the birth mother by pulling out of the case at the first sign of difficulty? Was she, perhaps, already attached to us? Did she picture her daughter with us as her belly grew?
And how could we bear to miss out on the time we can spend with This Baby, since it can't be every day? It gets harder every week to leave her after our visit. But each week, I still feel more excited to hold her and see how she's changed. And each week I feel refreshed, ready for another week of waiting--even amidst such uncertainty. It is such a blessing to have her close.
I don't know what's on the horizon. I don't know what the promise of spring holds for us. All I know for certain is that we have to love This Baby like there's no tomorrow.
But we'll love her tomorrow, too, if it comes. We'll love her forever.