“I can remember the day she entered the doors of my home like it is our current reality.
Any person who has not been involved in any part of the foster care system has, at one point, imagined what the first day of placement would be like for a child. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, ‘It was probably terrifying for her, but she was probably so grateful.’ They imagine the kids running towards us, with their hair blowing in the wind as they jump into our arms with love and gratitude. They imagine the children wandering around the house with so much excitement for their new life and the days to come. They can’t imagine it going differently because that side of the story is depicted by the other part of the story their imagination tells them is true, the part where they imagine you.
I have heard and been asked it all.
‘What is their mom’s problem?’
‘They are so lucky to be with you.’
‘You are the best thing that has happened to these kids.’
‘How could any mom let this happen?’
‘I can’t imagine giving my kids up, it’s so selfish.’
‘How could anyone not want them?’
I could go on, but I’ll spare you.
They imagine your home being such a toxic environment no child would want to live in. They imagine how these children must have looked, smelled, acted, and been treated. They imagine your children wanting nothing to do with you because of the situation they are in. They imagine how awful you are for not wanting or loving your children. They imagine something is wrong with you because that is what society tells them they should be believing.
The reality is when she came through those doors, it wasn’t like anyone could or would ever want to imagine. There was snot running down her face and the front edges of her hair were soaked from her tears. She clung to the social worker with every ounce of muscle she could work up. She was so confused, scared, and overstimulated she wouldn’t even look at me for the first hour. I can feel the energy just walking through the day in my head, it’s painful. It wasn’t rainbows and butterflies; it was dark and stormy.
For the next 24 hours, we talked about your family, your home, your cooking, things that reminded her of y’all. But mostly we talked about you. We talked about the way you make her laugh, we talked about how good your hugs are, and we talked about how much she loves you.
Biological moms get a really bad reputation, but you already know this.
I won’t even begin to sit here and say I understand what you’re feeling because I can’t and I never will be able to. The depth of the pain, although unimaginable, is not lost on me. The thoughts running through your head must be so tiring and gut-wrenching. This probably all feels so overwhelming and uncontrollable, but I want you to know that I am with you.
I am with you in the ups.
I am with you in the downs.
I am with you in the hard.
I am with you in the quiet.
I am with you in the chaotic.
I am with you in the calm.
I am with you in the storm.
I am with you in it all.
Here are five really big things I want you to know:
1. We aren’t that different. I can remember the day I met you as thoroughly as I do meeting your child. I was so anxious leading up to that moment. I wondered if you would judge me or if you would think I was good enough. I wondered if you would like me or if you would want nothing to do with me. I wondered if I would say the wrong things or if you wouldn’t like my outfit. I honestly changed around ten times because I didn’t want to give the wrong message. Just like everyone on this planet, I too am not perfect in my parenting or day-to-day life. I also have struggles and demons I fight through each day. We are just two women who love this child deeply, and that brings me more respect for you than you can imagine.
2. I promise to constantly honor you. I can’t imagine what you must be thinking goes on in our home. I imagine you being distracted throughout your day from constantly picking apart every single past scenario that led you here. I envision you losing sleep over thinking about the narrative you think I am probably telling your child. I hope you find peace in the fact I will never disrespect you to them… ever. You are such an important person to us and I will always hold an honorable space for you in our home.
3. I am not trying to replace you. I want you to read that again. We have pictures of you on our fridge, have a countdown going for when we see you next, and we pray for you every night. You aren’t just some random person to us. You are Mom. You hold a special place in your kiddo’s heart I can’t even begin to fill. Your baby thinks they are luckier than other kids because they have two moms. I will personally fight anyone who tries to tell them differently. Not only that, but I think your child is so special. Their story has you written all over it every single detail, so trying to take you out of it would be disrespectful to them. It is an honor to be able to be a part of your child’s lives and parent with you!
4. I love your babies like they are my own. When your child walked into my home, I made an oath to myself to advocate and love them like they were my own. They will never be neglected or feel less than while they are staying here. They will be built up, cared for, and loved every single day. I promise to love them so hard and to let them know you love them so hard, as well.
5. We are on the same team. What is that same team? Team child. Honestly, I want the absolute best for and will advocate for the best interest of your child while they are in my home. Whether that be through education or extracurricular activities or just life in general, I will help your child grow while they are in my care.
Here is the thing, mama, I can’t promise this is going to be a walk in the park because, in reality, this is going to be a long, exhausting road no person ever wishes to find themselves on. What I can promise you is I will offer you a lot of grace. So much grace that people will think I am crazier than they already think I am. Why? Because I feel the heaviness you must be harboring as I take the first day of school pictures. Because I feel the darkness that is overwhelming you as I light the candles for your baby’s birthday. Because I feel the deep pain you feel as I teach your kid to ride their bike or tie their shoes. I feel it every time I celebrate with your child and I can’t imagine navigating through that. I will always choose to give the same grace that I need daily. I want you to know it’s not lost on me both the privilege and pain that comes with your baby calling me mom.
So, Mama, I hope you can rest a little lighter tonight knowing we love and respect you, so big. Know there are no right words to describe how grateful we are for this opportunity and we promise to never take it lightly. Remember we are rooting so hard for you and your babies love you deeply.
Cheering for you always,
A Foster Mama.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bri Fishpaw from Van Wert, Ohio. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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