Although I’ve heard the question hundreds of times, I’m never quite sure how to respond when someone asks me, “Isn’t it hard when one of your foster children leaves?” Well, I could offer the emotional reply: “Every child that leaves my home takes a piece of my heart, and I spend weeks crying my eyes out.” It sounds pretty sappy, but it is entirely true. Or I could give the spiritual/philosophical answer: “I know that no matter what happens, God is in control and loves the children more than I do, and He will watch over them wherever they go.” Thankfully, this statement is also true. Actually, that question itself is so ridiculous, that I’m often tempted to give a sarcastic retort: “Oh, I’m basically a hard-hearted person, so it doesn’t bother me at all when a foster child leaves.” Of course, there is no truth to that at all!
No matter how I respond, however, the truth is that I have a difficult time explaining all of the emotions that I experience when a foster child leaves my home and care. The feelings range from grief and loss of the mother/child relationship I have enjoyed - how can I be a mother one day and not the next?; regret that I can’t see the fruit of my labor as the child continues to grow and develop; anger at a system that disrupt families’ lives; sometimes guilt that I didn’t do more to advocate for the child’s best interest; gratitude to the Lord for providing another loving family for this child, especially if they are going to be adopted or reunified with their restored biological family; and quite frankly, occasional relief that this particular child’s problems are no longer my responsibility.