Waiting in Fosterland
Guest Post by a Fellow Foster Mom
I’ve had several prolonged periods of waiting in my life. A few of the more obvious ones are this:
In my 20s, I waited several years for a much-desired career change.
I waited until I was 30 to marry.
And I was approaching 40 before I became a mom.
The waiting period for Amelia’s adoption grew from 18 months to 6 years. (I’ll share more about that in a future post.)
But of all the waiting I’ve done, I think my wait in Fosterland was perhaps the hardest wait of all.
Daryl came to us when he was 7 months old. (I wrote about his arrival here.) He was 3 ½ before his adoption was finalized. In foster terms, that’s not terribly long actually. Three years is pretty typical for the process.
But what makes the foster-wait so hard is how complicated it is. How crowded the waiting room is. How many people are involved. And how many hearts are on the line—not the least of which is a helpless child, who may or may not be aware of the turmoil surrounding his life, but who just wants to be loved and safe. What makes it so hard is how much pain and loss and confusion and anger and uncertainty and fear surfaces. From all parties. And how it expands. And fills the space. And threatens to suffocate. And what makes it hard is how little control you have. How it seems to come down to the decision of a fallible judge, who may or may not understand the complexities of the case.
Today’s guest blog is from a Fellow Foster Mom. We’ve never met. But when she wrote to me about her experience, I could certainly identify.
My foster-wait is over for the moment. But this mom is the middle of it.
And, praise God, what she’s finding in the waiting room makes every minute worth it.
Here are a few words from my foster mom friend…
Fostering is like a permanent seat in a waiting room, and every time you think, “We are next; just hold on a few more minutes and our name will be called,” someone comes out and says, “I am sorry. It is going to be a while longer before we can see you. We’re not sure exactly when. You are doing such a great job waiting, though. Thanks for your patience.” And then the door closes, and you just have to keep sitting there, wondering if it will be a few months or a few years before your name is called.
Fostering is inherently messy. My husband and I knew that going in. But now that we have been living it for a while, I think that the greatest tragedy is that our foster children—adorable, delightful babes with a host of unique needs—must spend a prolonged period in fosterland.
How I wish I could take away their pain, their confusion, and their loss. But of course I cannot; and if they did not carry their pain and loss, I would not know them in the first place. And if I did not carry my own pain and loss, perhaps I would have less ability to see them, to empathize with them, and to support them as they develop and grow and heal. There is so much beauty in the mess. And. This—all of it—is not how it was meant to be, and our time in the waiting room is an acute reminder of that.
I am working on settling back into the waiting room. I am tired of being here. I hate its whitewashed walls. I have read all its magazines a hundred times. My time here, for one reason or another, is approaching a decade. I have had moments on the outside, but then I get called back in fairly quickly.
My husband and I have been sitting next to each other in the waiting room all these years. I am grateful he is here. And he is grateful I am here. Our experience of the waiting room is both exactly the same and completely different.
I know I am learning a lot from the waiting room, even though I hate it here. Over and over again, I have cried and screamed and prayed as I have tried to enjoy the waiting room. I want to dance while I am here, to be fully present in this space, because this is the one and only life God has given me. And even if I try my hardest to control things, to force my name to be called so that I can leave the waiting room, I cannot do that. Wait I must.
When I have the ability to see my situation from an eternal perspective, I see that there are gifts all over the waiting room, some hidden, some in plain sight, all for me to enjoy as I wait. But the air in the waiting room is stale. It’s filled with fear, worry, and exhaustion. I find that it is hard to breathe in the waiting room, to truly breathe in and receive the most important gift in the room, the gift of God himself.
But breathe we must, if we are going to not only survive, but also thrive in the waiting room.
I am learning that I have to ask for the hands of others to help me breathe while I am here. I am learning that vulnerability is not something to hide.
And so…here I am, still waiting, and somewhat miraculously, still breathing.
Immanuel. God is with us.
When have you had to wait?
What did you learn?