Foster Love

by Cyndi Swafford


"It’s 4 am and all I can do is toss and turn as the events of the past 22 months flicker through my mind. In just a few days he’ll leave us for the last time. There have been so many incredible moments, so many wins. There’s been a lot of hurt too. 

Earlier this evening, I stood before a classroom of 25 eager adults, all anticipating the arrival of their final clearance licensing them as foster parents. I truly LOVE teaching these classes! Tonight, we talked about fostering a positive mindset and relationship toward/with primary families. Man, after the last 9 months of this journey, I’m jaded. This can be so difficult. I’ve messed this up more this time than I care to acknowledge. Not enough positive, too much connection, lack of trust, too much trust, fear, resentment. It’s a messy reality and navigating the journey is not easy, nor is the path clear. I always tell my classes, “I’m not saying this will be easy or that I’ve done it right all the time. I just want to challenge your thinking and ask you to consider the possibilities when we put ourselves out there for the sake of the kids we have in our homes.” 

Tonight, I asked my class, “How many of you are here ultimately hoping to adopt a child?” Nearly all of them raised their hands. For many of them, I know their hearts will be broken in the process. I tell them all, “reunification is the goal, unless and until a court orders that it isn’t any more.” Often times, if we’re all doing this thing right, and sometimes even if we’re not, adoption isn’t the end result! It never was the intent of “the system” in the first place. As foster parents, we must keep that perspective. I’m looking at all of these fresh hopeful faces as I’m feeling the deep pain of the beauty of reunification. Sometimes success means I lose and I have to be ok with that! 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve probably heard a million times, “I don’t know how you do it” or in a well meaning attempt at sympathy, I’ve heard “I could never do what you do.” Friends, I can’t either. IT HURTS, more deeply that I can articulate to you! What you fear, it’s my chosen reality. The worst pain, it’s real. I’m not superhuman and somehow avoid that part. I don’t WANT to let him go! It is easily the most devastating things I’ve ever done and I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life. To have invested my life into his and then to hand him over to someone that isn’t me to complete the job, I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT. But this isn’t about me! 

If a temporary mom is what he had to have, then he deserves to have had a temporary mom that will be utterly crushed and devastated when he leaves! 

He deserves to have been LOVED that deeply! Every sacrifice I have made. Every sacrifice my husband has made. My kids have made... it has all been WORTH IT! This child KNOWS LOVE! He is securely and deeply attached to a family that loves him. I cannot focus on the fact that that attachment is about to be broken for him. I have to take what comfort I can in knowing that his brain has developed through some of the most crucial years knowing this attachment. It knows how to form that bond. And then I have to let him go, he was never mine to begin with! 

Come be foster parents with the hope of adoption! We were once those parents too. But don’t forget that adoption by its very nature is a significant loss first! This is sacrificial love and every one of the children that enter home in foster care deserve this kind of commitment!"

You can see this post and the rest of Cyndi’s posts on her page at here.