She reaches a fork in the road and wonders which way to take. To the left, there are daisies lining the smooth ground as sunbeams dance off polished stones. But the woman, she knows that sunlight eventually sets and those daisies will eventually wither and die. To the right, there are thorns and potholes littering the way and it’s so dim she can barely see down the path at all. And the road begins to feel all too familiar.
She decides to take the passive way out and plunks her bottom down in the middle of the road, sobbing whilst looking at an upside-down road map, rendered completely incapable of making a decision. At every pass, it feels like the choices she must make are the wrong ones, her weary feet shuffling through a field of landmines. And because of this, her nerves are raw. They are frazzled. Fried. She’s terrified to move, scared to even breathe, fear paralyzing every part of her.
In the distance she could swear she hears a child’s cry. A cry that she knows well, calling her name at the same time as it calls up the most wounded part of her soul. The poor woman’s stomach is in constant knots, her body exhausted from sleepless nights filled with both loud weeping and, what’s even worse, silence. The nothingness of those early morning hours frightens her in a way that nothing else has. Those hours of stillness and slumber push her into a state of panic and wild thoughts.
But the daylight is no better - it holds no rest for her shakiness. Because it is in the daylight that she can see all the reminders, all the memories, all the paths previously taken that have left her empty-handed. The daylight shows her that she still has to move forward, leaving a place that she will miss and choose a road that promises uncertainty and possible heart-break, something that this pieced-together self couldn’t withstand.
She has always found HOPE to be her sanctuary. It has always been the holy concept that holds her hand when the storms are blowing all around. But in these dark, dark hours, hope scares the woman. Hope has become too dangerous. Because by hoping, it allows her to wonder if there is still a chance that things will get better. It lets her imagine that one of the paths she may choose could bring her all that my heart needs to be whole again. And for that reason, hope is breaking her. She is not strong enough to hold onto that familiar hand right now. She cannot let herself believe that things will “work out” because too often, they just don’t. And it’s then, when the world has robbed her of what she cherishes the most, that she loses another piece of herself.
She is a foster mother. And she has just lost her child – the child that was promised to her by a system that can’t stand upright due to the weight of law and injustice on its shoulders. The woman’s faith has been shaken. Her life has been taken. Her courage has been obliterated.
Her child knew love. Her child knew safety and affection. And her child was taken from love and returned to violence and fear. But she cannot save her child, for she is just a foster mother. She cannot fight for her child, for she is just a foster mother. She cannot grieve openly, for she is just a foster mother. No one asks if she is OK, for she is just a foster mother. And in the midst of it all, she is told that this was her job. She is told that she has no say. She is told that all that she has given will have to be enough…. That the child she has lost will probably forget her, but hopefully remember the good that was instilled, if even for a short while.
And when her arms are left empty after however many children she has lost, she is asked if she would do it all over again. And with the only thing she can find that is certain in her life, she reaches out and takes Hope by the hand once more as she answers the question with a bold, resounding ‘Yes’.
For she is a Mother.
~For every foster parent who reads this, know that I see your pain. I feel your hurt with my own heart - that deep down ache that never goes away is what makes you stronger than anyone on this planet. You are storing up treasures in Heaven with your willing hearts and continuously open arms. Your children, the ones that you have lost, they WILL remember. You have left your fingerprints on their souls... and souls, they never forget. Keep finding your Hope.~
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