Today is her birthday! Wow. She is 9 years old. She has grown into such a fun young lady. She loves tumbling, singing and laughs easily. She has great friends and good health. She is a blessing to all who know her. We celebrated her birthday a couple of days early with a party of 17 of her friends at the local youth center. I remember bringing her home from the hospital…twice. I met the caseworker at the court house parking lot to pick up my “wounded bird” with broken legs, one still in a pink cast, with a swollen eye and thin hair. She had a sweet, gentle smile, but turned her eyes to the floor when a man entered the room. We met her through foster care and last night when I tucked my 8 year old daughter in, her eyes filled with tears and she said what I knew she would say someday, “Why did she let me go?” K’s birthday is May 11th which falls entirely too close to Mother’s Day. A weekend full of memories of past love and trauma, of celebration and sorrow. K loves her first Mom. She was good to her. She remembers how her Mom comforted her when she had been injured by the boyfriend who was in charge of watching her. She remembers the cuddles, the sleeping in, the presents bought, the scrapbooks made. She remembers all the love her Mom poured out on her, yet she remembers the dark garage that she was locked in, she remembers how he bounced her off the wall over and over, how he sat on her and she couldn’t breathe.
Yesterday in church the choir sang a song titled, “I’m adopted.” K thought for sure that I would tell the congregation afterwards that she was adopted. “Oh honey, they all know you are adopted.” “How?” “Those people in those pews and other churches you’ve never even visited prayed for you for months. You touched everyone you met.” She sincerely did. She put a face to abuse, abuse of the bad boyfriend, abuse of the system who sent her back again, abuse of a Mom who refused to put her child first. So sad. When we met her we prayed for her, we prayed that God would place her exactly where He wanted her to be. We had to trust. We still have to trust. We don’t have answers to her questions of why, we simply don’t know. Why would a Mother pick an abusive boyfriend over a precious little blonde? Why would a judge send a chlid back into a home with with 3 indicated child abusers? Why did it take so long for parental rights to be terminated and an adoption to be final? We don’t know. We never will.
Today is her birthday. I, too, have mixed emotions. This isn’t the plan I would’ve picked for her. Mothers are supposed to love their daughters and put their safety above their own, but for someone reason, K’s couldn’t or didn’t. It’s sad. Yet, that Mother’s bad decision made this Mom’s heart even fuller. I had the honor of receiving a lettuce plant with a card saying, “Lettuce say thanks, Mom” for Mother’s Day. I counted my blessings yesterday for the 5 children that God has entrusted me to raise. Two of my blessings have other mothers and pain that I can’t relate to. Two of my children celebrate their birthdays without the stories of “how excited we were this day x number of years ago” or “I remember your teeny tiny toes.” That’s sad. And, the memories we all share about their first days are not happy ones. There is no way to wax eloquent here.
Years ago when I was fostering an infant, I took her to the pediatrician for a check up. When the doctor entered the room, he said, “Congratulations!!” I quickly corrected him and said, “Oh, she’s not mine.” He said, “You have the honor of caring for a beautiful baby girl, congratulations are in order.” I’ve never forgotten his words or his sentiment. It is an honor and a privilege.
Today is her birthday. I think we’ll acknowledge her sad memories, maybe briefly, and attempt to move on to what is truly important in this 9 year old’s life. Birthday cake with lots of icing, stories of the friend party on Saturday, choosing which new outfit to wear to school today and lots of singing. I have the honor of caring for a beautiful “baby” girl, congratulations are in order!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… –Proverbs 3:5