It was the stories from my grandad. That he always told me sitting on his lap how his parents came over from Poland, and he was the first-generation American. And how his dad struggled with Tuberculosis and so, to help out, he started working at ten years old, making 50 cents a day. And then soon, his mother coming down with it, as well. And how they all cared for her after their father had died. At the age of 15 and the oldest of 6 surviving children, he tried to provide for them all by painting elevators. Then his mother was admitted into the Sanatorium. All but one of the younger ones were taken into different orphanages. He would talk about what that was like, how it felt to be at the complete mercy of others.
And I knew. I knew I always wanted to be that for someone else. A place of refuge and solace. Comfort and love. A place a sweet little head could rest at ease. So, after two children, and still wanting more, we felt a tug at our hearts to look into fostering to adopt.
So we went to the meeting and filled out the paperwork. Followed all the safety precautions in preparing our home, met the fire marshall’s and CPS’s approval. Then, we moved an 18-month-old out of her crib and into her three-year-old sister’s room with bunk beds. I went to training and read all the books and blogs. Decorated the room for adventure, started a “when our stories met” baby book, and took “expectant” pictures announcing to the world we were waiting on a new addition to our family.
We prepared the girls. We tried to explain things as best we could. I prayed for the little one that I already loved, for the little one that would become a part of our family. And then we waited. We waited for the phone call that would change our lives.
At one point, I had counted. All the sweet little feet that had entered our home during those two years. Each one taking a piece of my heart with them when they left. As I sat in the room that was theirs for a moment and let the tears fall, I always thought love would be enough. And when they left, most going back into the hardships they had come from, I felt like I had failed because I wasn’t able to save them. I wasn’t able to rescue their little, broken hearts. I was only a moment for them, when I wanted, so desperately, to be their forever.
But, what I am learning is just because God calls us to do something, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. But also, just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not still a blessing. When I look back on that time of struggle and heartache and hope and love, I yearn for those moments. No, things may not look the way I thought they would look. And I was challenged as a mother and wife in every way possible during that time. But it doesn’t take away the good I hold onto in my heart. It doesn’t take away the moments I had the opportunity to sit and rock and sing and read books and kiss foreheads and hold and pray over precious, little hearts. It doesn’t take away how my girls love hard on every friend that comes their way, and color or any other difference is never an issue, because they grew up seeing it all, and loving all.
My prayer now is that every soul that came into our home for a place of rest will always know that they are loved. That no matter where they are, a part of them will always be with us, as we remember their time in our home. And I will tell people when they ask me that it was one of the hardest and most fulfilling things I have ever done. It takes every ounce of you and is something you have to do with your whole heart. I may not have been the forever home I thought we would be. But I do believe that we were the stepping stone. The emergency placements in the middle of the night that no one else would take. The phone calls we were able to say yes to—that allowed time. For God’s goodness to work through the moments they endured and the mercy they were seeking. That I had heard about my whole life, it might not have been the way I had always pictured it, but it was the way God had imagined it.
We became the in-between. A place of refuge, after all. If only for a moment. It was a moment enough to help them catch their breath, rest in the loving arms of another, and giggle with little girls who couldn’t get enough of them.