As many of you know by now, we received a phone call about 3 weeks ago about a little 6 year old girl who needed to be placed into a more permanent foster home, and that it most likely would end up in adoption due to rights of the parents leading towards termination.
We said “yes!” Remember when I talked about “When Yes’s Become No’s?” At this point I was still guarded with my “yes,” because our social worker from our foster agency then had to contact the county caseworker overseeing our case and tell her about us. The county then reviewed our profile (basically a large document with a ton of information about us….basically our entire life story for them to read and make sure that we our family is a good fit to take on a foster child). After reading our profile they had one question for us and that was to confirm that we indeed were interested in pursing adoption for this child. I said “yes!” (possibly shouted it lol) and we found out early the next week that we were the chosen family for this child.
The county’s next question was “When can they take her?!” I said “we can be ready now if that’s what she needs,” and so I was sent into a tailspin of preparing her room, sorting through Abbie’s old clothes that would be about the size a 6 year old would need, friends dropped off car seats, and set up a meal train for her arrival. I even bought her goodies for an Easter basket since Easter was only a few days later in case she arrived before hand.
Her room had become somewhat of a catch all zone in the past few years of waiting. It typically serves as our guest room, and we did get it ready 2 years ago when we first finished our licensing requirements. Then it sat empty, and then we had guests so we ended up putting the Queen bed back in there, and figured we would switch the beds once we officially had a placement. So in my mind I always knew it was her room, but there was no sense leaving it empty when it wasn’t being used.
When our “yes” officially became the county’s “yes” we were excited to get things ready. I made the bed. I moved the dollhouse into her room, and barbies too. I made plans in my head that once she arrived we would make a trip to pick out her favorite paint color, and decorations for her new room. About 2 1/2 years ago, Abbie picked out a present for her someday “sister” and stashed it away in her room, and I was brought to tears when she brought the gifts out completely on her own, and left her this note….
I think that was the first time I cried after hearing the county’s “yes.” Prior to that I felt numb. Wanting to still hold my breath, not trusting for real if she would actually be here, but when Abbie wrote that, I knew that regardless of what happened, whether she was here in our home or not, that this child deserved to be loved, and wanted, cried for and prayed over regardless of what happened, and so like any “expectant” mother….dreams were beginning to form. Plans were being made. My mind was already weaving this new child into the tapestry of our days, and the dynamic of our lives.
As we waited for the news from the county of the actual date of her arrival, I kept in contact with our social worker who periodically gave me updates as she had them. Initially I found out that the county was closed on Good Friday so she would not be coming prior to Easter at that point. I expected the Monday after Easter then because that is originally when they said she would be placed. Monday came and went. Nothing. I knew her brothers were being placed in their permanent foster home the following Friday. Still I heard nothing. I checked in with our social worker at that point because she was with her brothers when they were placed and she did give me an update that the county told her the little girl was doing really well in her temporary home, and that they reported already in a short time seeing lots of progress and that she was really a very loving, sweet girl.
Two days later, on May 1st, I received a call from our social worker as I was driving Alex home from preschool. I’m sure that was honestly a dreaded phone call for her. She knew we were making plans. She knew our hopes were high, and that this child was already so wanted, and loved by us. I can’t remember entirely what she said. Most of her words were a blur, but I do remember the obvious conclusion of what was being said “She is no longer coming.”
I think I said two words to our social worker in the context of that conversation. One was “Ok” and the other was a very choked up “bye.” She was encouraging in that she said that the county really liked our profile, and that they were very excited about our family, and would definitely be keeping us in mind for another placement. Since this technically was the first time the county had ever even looked at our profile because all of the other times we said “yes” by the time our social worker responded to them they had already found another family which means that they most likely never even knew a thing about us. Now they do which is great, but also we aren’t the only family they are looking at…they look at hundreds so while we are fresh in their minds this week…as time goes on, probably not so much.
That afternoon I was of course sad. Dave was shocked when I called him. He didn’t even think that them changing their minds was an option at this point. I just honestly wanted to be left alone. It’s how I process, and I knew in due time I would want to process with people, but in that moment I just couldn’t. I needed to just be. My heart just hurt, and though I would never ever compare my grief to another person, for a moment I wondered if this was a tiny glimpse of what it felt like to struggle with infertility and miscarriage. Though this baby didn’t grow inside of me, the love for our future child has been growing for years. We prayed about potentially adopting even before we ever had biological children so this desire has been growing now for over 10 years, and there was definite growth in my heart of a deeper love for her as I learned her name, her race, and her story. I imagined what her sweet face looked like after being told she was Caucasian and Hispanic. I envisioned her having a mop of dark curls and fitting in with our current curly haired ratio of 3:1 (sorry Dave! Though her skin would surely not even be close as white as the rest of us!) But this love…these dreams for her, for a child that I finally let my guard down for, and allowed more love to grow since my “yes” was met with a “yes” from the county…that dream was now gone. At least for this child. Not for any child ever, but for this specific child that I prayed for, longed for, and already loved so much….the dreams I had that I thought were God’s plan were suddenly gone as quickly as they started with a phone call, they ended with a phone call as well.
The day after our news I woke in a much better place sadness wise. I really and truly was happy for her. I’m so glad she doesn’t have to transition to yet again another home. I’m grateful that her respite (temporary foster care) family fell in love with her and she with them, and could finally have a forever family, but Day 2 brought more anger in my grieving process….it wasn’t the loss of specifically her that I was mourning, it was the death of this specific dream, these plans, and my expectations that was really what I was wrestling with. “God what are you doing? I know this is a good desire, but why this waiting? Why all the yes’s turned to no’s? Why this false hope only to have to lay it down once more?
I’ve cried a fair amount of tears this week, and I really appreciate all the love and encouragement many of you have shown me. As with all grief there are triggers that I didn’t expect. Evidence of a love already growing much deeper than I anticipated even before her arrival. Like when I walked downstairs in our storage room in the basement and saw her Easter basket still sitting there, or the clothes I sorted out for her, and her room…I can’t touch that yet, nor do I really plan to for awhile. Events beginning to happen in our lives that I thought she would be here for and she’s not…there’s an empty spot in our car that I thought would be full, or a vacancy on the sidelines at Abbie and Alex’s soccer games, or the mother daughter pajama party at church on Friday…I thought I would have another with me that night…..
I didn’t expect any of those triggers, but they are there. Reminders of the plans I thought we had that no longer will be.
I really am ok though. I really am happy for her. I’m not much of a wallower. I am more of an “It is what it is” type of person so I tend to focus more on “Ok what’s next…if not this, than what?” So my sad moments are fleeting, and far less in number than they were on Day 1, but it is still a loss none the less, and grief is a part of loss.
Have you have ever experienced the death of a dream or your plans? Shattered expectations? This isn’t the first time that’s it happened to me, nor will it be the last, but each time it happens doesn’t hurt any less than the time before. The only thing that is different now than when I was much younger is that I have had the gift of time on my side to see how faithful God is even after our plans are shattered. I have come to know full well that He is good all the time even when my circumstances don’t feel good or favorable to what I wanted…He is good, and worthy of my praise.
My desire to control, and plan wants what it wants, but even in the middle of grief, in the midst of broken dreams, and changed plans…God is always working. God is always good. His plans are much greater than mine.
Psalm 55: 8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
My devotions this week have been rooted in a theme of “Faith and Trust…”
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”
“When I am afraid I put my trust in you.”
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
One of my closest friends and greatest prayer warriors reminded me this week of something that brought me to tears. She has faithfully been praying periodically for every single child they have ever received a call about. Our list of kids has been added to her list as well and in total that list has 29 children on it. Some we know the names and ages of, some we don’t, but she reminded me this week of how much of an honor it is that we get to pray for these kids. That if nothing else….kids that may have never had a single prayer uttered for them in their life…now have people praying for them. I’m humbled to think of the impact that could bring in each of their lives, and our girl….the one we thought was God’s “yes,” had so many people praying for her that I am just in awe that God would be gracious enough to provide her respite home parents with a change of heart to welcome her home for forever.
And so whats next for us? We press on. We wait, because for whatever reason THIS wasn’t God’s plan even if we thought it was, and someday it will make sense, and we will understand. Possibly not on this side of eternity, but it doesn’t matter…We are to be faithful even in the waiting. Even when the dream gets shattered. Even when our expectations don’t get met, because He is faithful, and good, and worthy of all of my praise.