January 23, 2014
The buzz of excitement in our home is so thick I can almost feel it! A new little one will soon be joining our family, and we are all anxiously awaiting his arrival. The older ones in the family are sorting through our large stockpile of clothing that we keep just in case - the assortment of sizes, seasons, and genders; and picking out the cutest ones they can find. I am busy clearing space . . . in the dresser drawers for his belongings, in the kitchen cabinet for his bibs, bottles and baby food, and in my calendar for the many hours that I know his care will require. His new papa is re-assembling the crib and re-installing the car seat – tasks he’s done so many times, he can practically do them in his sleep! And the younger one keeps asking over and over again, “When is he coming?” We are just like any other family who has a baby on the way . . . the arrival of a new foster child is a time of great expectation.
Of course there are some obvious differences.
Gestation. Most mothers have nine months to prepare their hearts and home for their new addition, while I only have a few hours or, in this case, a few days. But the emotions are the same. Excitement of a new one to love. Fear of the unknown. Regret that I didn’t use my free time more productively the last few months. Resolve to be the best mother I can be for this child.
Preparation. Fortunately, after so many years of providing foster care to a wide range of children (along with a recent donation of brand-name clothing and a beautiful bassinet from a generous woman I have never even met), I already have almost everything this child will need. However, it is impossible to ever be fully prepared. I am making a last-minute scramble to purchase the correct size diapers; trying to figure out which bedroom we will rearrange (this varies, depending on age and gender); and choosing a special “lovey” that will be especially for him. I am also beginning a new notebook with all of the details of his care: contact information for everyone on your team, list of current medications, health history, consent forms, and appointment calendar. One small child can sure keep a foster mama busy before even coming home!
Anticipation. I didn’t get an ultrasound, naturally, but I did get a sneak peek at him in the hospital. It was all I could do to keep my hands off of him, and to remember my purpose for being there. It was an opportunity to ask questions of his medical team and learn about the requirements of his care. It helps me know what to expect when he comes home. He isn’t just a statistic or a generic “foster child.” He has a name and a personality and a story. And now, his face is imprinted on my heart.
Mothers all over the world hope and pray that their child will be born healthy, strong, and whole. Perfect in every way. I already know that he is none of these things. He is fragile and vulnerable. Does it matter? Well, I do grieve for him that he is getting such a difficult start in life. And I know that caring for him is going to be a challenge in so many ways. Caring for any child is never easy under the best of circumstances, and it is exponentially more difficult when one has special needs. But really, his physical condition does not define him. Oh, how I long to hold him and kiss that precious face!! To remind him again and again that he is a treasure, made in the image of God. Born to bring glory to his Creator. To let him know how loved he is.
Duration. Of course I know that he will not be staying forever. The day will come when he will leave, and my heart will be shattered into a thousand pieces. But that doesn’t hinder me from loving him today. And yes, I am already in love! Studies show that people only fall in love 2 to 4 times in their lifetime1, but any mother who has had lots of children know that it isn’t true. My heart has had lots of practice falling in love, and this time, with him, it’s just as powerful and passionate, every bit as wondrous as the first time. The troubled social history, the daunting medical diagnoses, the pessimistic prognoses . . . they all pale in comparison to the fiercely protective love in my heart for this beautiful child who will soon be in my arms.
Celebration. In spite of my enthusiasm about his arrival, I won’t be sending out announcements. There won’t be any parties or showers or festivities. My voice longs to shout the news from the rooftops, letting my friends and family share in the adventure with us. However, because of confidentiality laws, I can’t. I’m not allowed to post pictures of him or even to mention his name. It will take every bit of self-control to remain silent.
That’s okay. There is no law against love and excitement and private joy. In my heart, in our family, we eagerly look forward to welcoming him. We can’t wait to see how the Lord is going to bless him. We already have high hopes for what He is going to do in this child’s life, and we are thanking Him for the privilege of being able to share in a small part of it. We know that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). We can barely contain our great expectations!