You are my son. | I am not your mommy.
Foster care makes you do this crazy dance of raising, supporting, and nurturing a child who you'll grow to love as your own, all the while watching them grieve the loss of having their actual mom.
DJ and I got a call about our foster son in August right after school had started. I became the Special Ed Coordinator at a new school that came with new challenges and DJ started a small business and already had a taxing workload. Not to mention we had just crossed 1 full year of marriage. Perfect timing, right?
We didn't have any other kids at the time, so we said "yes" and greeted our not-so-happy to be moving again teenager with open arms. He settled in fine, was/is super quiet, and actually fit quite nicely into our too routine lifestyle.
One of the first interesting conversations with T happened the following Sunday on the way to church.
DJ: "When we get to church, people are going to greet you and they might know you are our foster son because we are foster parents."
ME: "Yea, so what do you want us to call you? Our son? Our foster son? Our nephew?"
T: "You can call me your son."
DJ and I paused and tried not to have either expression of excitement, shock, or confusion on our faces. We went with it. He is our son and I was so proud to start introducing him as such.
After Thanksgiving, DJ and I started playing games with T to initiate more family time that included him talking to us about his memories playing UNO with his mom and siblings. The more stories he told, the more I thought: Man, he misses his momma. I know he wants to be with his family.
In the midst of the action one night, we get a call about a 5-year-old boy who needed a placement. We were so excited to get a little kid to join the Brown Bunch. We called our pastor for a mattress, set up his room, and welcomed Little C crying that night around 11:00pm. He was so cute!
Our routines got harder to establish with this one, but DJ and I stayed committed. We would take turns picking him up from school, reading bedtime stories, cleaning up the various "accidents" that happened at home. It was hard!
A week into this new life, I was cleaning up from dinner and DJ was sending emails when we hear a loud high pitched voice from Little C's room: "GOOD NIGHT MOMMY AND DADDY!" We both paused and did that same thing that we did when T told us to call him son. We just went with it. Mommy and Daddy were new titles for DJ and me according to Little C. It gave us all the encouragement in the world to keep fostering. He needed us and we needed him.
We did all the holidays things together: put up a Christmas tree, hung stockings, drank too much hot cocoa, watched movies as a family, oooed and ahhhhed when our boys would chat or play together (despite the obvious age difference).
God must have known we needed that a moment of joy because shortly after that we found out that Little C needed more help than we could provide. Life had been cruel to him and he longed for his mommy, not me. He wanted his real mom and she wasn't an option. This reality was too much for his little heart to handle.
He needed another placement that worked less, had more availability and training... Little C needed a new mommy. Three days later, Little C left our home wearing his blue rubber rain boots that he begged me to buy him from a resale shop. I watched my lionhearted husband cry as he hugged him goodbye. I felt that we failed him. I couldn't stop thinking: Why didn't it work out? What else could we have done? Why didn't it last a little longer?
You see, Little C was my son. T is still my son. But to neither one of my boys am I the mom that they long to reunite with.