‘If he leaves one day, will he remember me?’ I’m not a babysitter or a caregiver. I’m a MOTHER.’: Foster mom reflects on journey, ‘I wouldn’t trade it for anything’

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“Our journey to fostering was a little different than most, I would say. We were not certified at the time we started. We were familiar with the fostering process, our best friends fostered and adopted their son. We were presented with the opportunity to take in a sweet little boy who was just born on a Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday morning, we had DCFS in our home to go over all the details. That night, I made a trip to Target, trying to find everything I would need to make him comfortable and for me to feel prepared to bring a baby home.

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

By Thursday morning, at 7:30 a.m., we were at the hospital waiting to pick up a six-pound beautiful boy, ready to love him and take care of him. My husband and I were not parents before taking in our little guy. Essentially, we became parents overnight
with 24 hours to prepare our home, hearts, and minds for the journey. Though I had seen our best friends live through the rollercoaster that is fostering, living through the day to day joys and lows was a whole other story. I remember the first day he and I were alone, my husband wasn’t home and I remember rocking him in my arms and I began to cry and pray that I would do the best job with the time I had with him, and I remember asking God to help me and strengthen me, and give me wisdom on how to be a good foster mom to him.

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

Becoming a foster parent has hands down been one of the most difficult and most heart-filled journeys I’ve been on as a woman and mother. I can best describe it as growing up, you can almost expect big moments in your life and how they will play out. Like the day you get married, you know you’ll be feeling nervous but excited! Or the day you graduate, you’re going to feel relieved or a little nervous for the next chapter in life. There are emotions you can categorize and/or expect to feel when you’re going to enter a new stage in life. Fostering and everything that comes with it includes a lot of emotions, most of the time I find myself not being able to categorize those emotions in a place that makes sense.

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

All you know is you experience the absolute beauty that is stepping into someone’s story, no matter how difficult it may be, because you know the goal of keeping the little one safe, loved, and adored is being taken care of. There are also other emotions, such as the uncertainty that is probably birthed from the fact that fostering has a plethora of uncertainties that come with it. And uncertainty and lack of self-validation that you are, in fact, a mother. Not a babysitter, caregiver, or some other kind of description, but a mother.

I felt this way on the third day we had brought him home. It was Mother’s Day, and I remember thinking, ‘Do I deserve to be celebrated today? Is it okay? Do I count as a mother?’ Luckily, my family was extremely gracious and celebrated me on my first Mother’s Day. But this is only part of the internal struggle as a mother. A few months into fostering, when I was really struggling on what the future would hold, I wondered, ‘If he left one day, would he remember me at all? Would our time together hold weight in the grand scheme of his life?’

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

I remember a friend sent me a message that forever changed my perspective on the role I was playing and the importance it has. She told me, ‘Remember, motherhood is sacred work, being able to impart into tiny souls is so vital and it brings God glory. You are leaving an impact that can never be undone, guard it.’ It’s funny how words so powerful like this can bring so much hope and affirmation to your life. I am leaving an impact that can never be undone. As a foster parent, you never know how long you will be with your little one, if one week or one year. However, your biggest hope is you can love them well, nurture them like your own, and plant a seed of love in their lives that will give fruit, even if you’re not the one honored to see it through.

Even in the most difficult and most uncertain times, I know this is what I am called to do. I am absolutely certain of it. I know I am called to put on pain and uncertainty so my little guy doesn’t have to. One of my best friends, who also shares the role of a foster parent, told me an incredibly impactful thought in my most uncertain times of this journey, which has given me hope when I know I cannot control our little guy’s future: ‘I know you love this little boy with everything you’ve got, but I also know God loves him more.’

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

It brings me peace, knowing his future is in the hands of God and I can trust this. Though the life of a foster parent is not traditional by any means, and at times looks really messy, I wouldn’t trade it for an easier, less messy, more certain life. Because when I look at this beautiful boy, who I have the honor of being one of his moms, everything else fades in light of this.”

Courtesy of Michelle Benitez

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Michelle Benitez. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘Anthony was the ‘throw away child,’ in and out of foster care since 4 years old. I felt God calling on me: ‘He is yours.’: Family adopt teen stuck in foster care, ‘He’ll forever live in my heart’

‘I threw my hands up. ‘God, if you make me do foster care, I’ll scream!’ We haven’t stopped changing diapers since.’: Woman becomes foster parent, ‘It’s about giving’

‘Is he your son?’ I nodded and waited for the disbelief. He just smiled. ‘I could tell. You look like best friends.’: Woman documents foster care journey, ‘Family runs deeper than blood’

‘Can I stay?’ I had 5 under 5. I wasn’t ready. I thought she deserved better. But there was nowhere else.’: Woman adopts 17-year-old from foster care, ‘We said YES’

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