He's sweet, a little sad, and, as the nurse described him, "a tank". He has not struggled with weight gain and is not underweight. He is for the most part a healthy, normal 8-week-old boy.
When Baby M left our home, we mourned him hard. When Baby Z left, we mourned him even more, knowing how physically fragile he was and not knowing how well he would be cared for. Each time, we told ourselves that we would not have done anything differently. We would not have chosen to love them less in order to lessen our pain on their leaving.
Sometimes I fear that we will lose that attitude. I was afraid that we would not love Baby S as much as we loved our other babes. With each baby's departure, I become more aware that each moment of bonding and loving them will make the pain more intense when they leave.
It brings me joy to find that there is no way not to love these little ones. That first time that they peek open their eyes just to make sure it's you before they snuggle in closer, you can't help but love them. When you notice they smile a little more for you than for someone else, you can't help but love them. When you learn painful pieces of their past and see how they've grown and thrived anyway, you can't help but love them. When you find yourself becoming the expert on how best to care for them and what makes them happiest, you know that you've started down the Mommy road and there's no going back.
Oh, the baby hands. God just makes these little ones so irresistibly cute. And do you see the adorable chunk on those cheeks?
My ability to bond and love foster sons has not yet changed. If it ever does, that will be the day we will have to reconsider foster care. Until that day, I'm going to love them despite the pain and sacrifice involved, because that's what my Jesus does for me, and I want to be just like him.
What is changing is my prayer for these babes. I get tired of what feels like constant hellos and goodbyes. I desire to pour into one child long term. But I also want to meet each of these kids where they are and be the person who can meet their needs while their futures are up in the air.
I had the awesome privilege for the first time with Baby S of meeting a birth mom. I have had a chance to see how much this baby is loved, and it is helping me to be able to pray more whole-heartedly for reunification and healing for Baby S's family. My prayer has been steadily evolving from "Lord, heal his family but really let me be his mommy, because I'll take good care of him," to "God, please, no matter where he goes, let him have a heart that loves you and people to teach him about you with their words and the way they love him."
I was snuggling Baby S while I was reading from my Bible yesterday, and I came across a beautiful verse at the end of Psalm 138 that I've adopted as my prayer for little Baby S:
"The Lord will work out his plans for my life--for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don't abandon me, for you made me."
Psalm 138:8 (NLT)
The ESV footnote paraphrases the verse this way: "As God has begun to care for me, so he will finish the job all my life long." No matter who is parenting my foster sons, God is faithful, and he will not leave them. I pray that he would walk with my babes, care for them, and love them forever, no matter where they go.