Our girl is leaving this week. Remember her? I’ve been processing this in a million ways since we initially found out about her move and thought I’d share those with you. When the finality of the decision for a child to leave your home happens, there’s this sharp exhale like you just got kicked in the stomach. We were told a little over 2 weeks ago about this decision and it took us by huge surprise. It really shouldn’t have though, because when she came in late July we were told it would be only a few weeks until a home for the entire sibling group could be secured. But when days turned into weeks and months, our hearts didn’t remember that it was only temporary and we invested in her as our own and dared to hope she might stay forever.
There’s the initial grief and numbness. This time it felt like the miscarriages we’ve suffered where a part of you gets taken without your knowledge or permission and you feel so hollow. After a while of this I kick it into high gear and try to compartmentalize my feelings. People offer their sadness, prayers and concerns about how we’re doing and I’m able to smile and say “it’s fine and for the best”. I can move through each day without thinking about how I really feel about it all. The whole house is eerily quiet about it. Our boys never utter another word about her leaving and change the subject when anything does come up about it.
My heart learns to build walls to protect itself and cope by letting myself feel how utterly tired I am of caring for other’s children. Every tantrum or difficulty from her has me saying inside my head, “It’s good you’re leaving, I didn’t want to raise you anyway.” I start to think about how life will be easier when she’s gone and relish in the thought. These are terrible, guilty thoughts. I cry out to God, saying “I don’t want do this anymore. I want to be done”. It’s hard not to question when He’ll release us from this calling and so hard to remember the immense joy we get out of caring for His kids.
And then I think about her and agonize over how her entire life as she knows it is about to change in a few days and she has no clue. She’ll be totally caught off guard by night after night of sleeping in this new home and wondering where is that mama and dada she grew attached to. That’s probably the hardest. It’s more than I can handle sometimes.
When I lament like this, I find that there’s always a turn. A friend encouraged me to write a lament and commented that inevitably there’s a point when you see the “but God” and you can see His faithfulness. She’s right. With every cry and disappointment, confused thought, all my anger and brokenness – it is all met in Him and in His sovereignty and goodness. Matt Redman has a song I could just about put on auto play:
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
There is the truth! I know He is faithful to us and to our girl. And His plan didn’t change for her the moment we were caught off guard by her move. When I feel like I’ve totally lost control on her future, I remember that I never had it in the first place and she’s in His best care no matter where she lives. So I move on to celebrating this. I’m able to celebrate all the progress she’s made here and the joy she’s brought to us. I remember her coming to us, hardly a smile and mostly unfeeling eyes, totally insecure. She’s leaving us a mischievous, giggly girl who hugs everyone and bravely walks through the day. I celebrate my family and friends who have risked our hearts for her and I’m proud once again that we said “yes” to God in this calling.
Finally, there is a lot of prayer, which ties all of these feelings together. I beg God for His favor towards her all the days of her life. I always ask that He put someone in all my kids’ paths at every step of their lives who knows Jesus and shares Him with them. I pray for her safety and for her to know security through her caregivers. I ask Him to hold us while we cry and keep sending His faithful promises to us. I ask Him to help my boys with their feelings and beg Him to let Conor and I lead them wisely and lovingly through their own grief. I pray that He will keep using us in His Kingdom and keep proving to me that His way is the best for us to follow.