Tomorrow is our Baby S's first birthday.
We are so proud of him. He has grown into such a loving, snuggly, sweet boy. He is smiley and flexible and cheerful and puts up with so many crazy things so joyfully. He has a beautiful personality and I am so glad he is here with us, in our family. After our two short term placements who left so quickly, we were hesitant to believe that little 6-week-old Baby S would stay with us for more than a couple of weeks. But here we are, at his first birthday. Our hearts are so full of joy to have him here with us on his special day.
But like much of foster care, there is not only joy. There is also a deep sadness. Baby S is leaving babyhood behind. He's standing on his own now (he's so smiley and proud of himself!) and will be walking before long. He is quickly approaching toddlerhood. He is moving from formula and bottles to milk and sippy cups. He's eating big person food and trying to keep up with his big brother. He wants to be a big boy.
And his birth parent hasn't been able to have the active role they desired. Birth Parent has been as involved as the county has let them, and I'm not trying to minimize their role. It's been huge that he's had this level of involvement from Birth Parent. But this isn't what Parent hoped for or expected. And there is a deep sadness in knowing that Parent is celebrating Baby S's birthday knowing he is leaving babyhood behind, and that they were not able to do that stage together.
There are a lot of tough moments for us with this case lately, but no matter what, we still believe the goal is reunification, when this is best for the child. We are still cheering for families reunited. Baby S's safe travel through babyhood is a victory that we are glad to have been part of. But while we love and cherish his role in our family, we also recognize that his separation from Birth Parent is a tragedy, and that saddens us.
But we will also be inwardly grieving. We will be sharing in birth parent's sadness. We will be mourning the childhood birth parent had hoped for and planned. And we will be praying for birth parent, tomorrow and every day.