Little girl, I’ll never forget the first morning you stepped inside my front door.
I noticed your hesitation, and I didn’t blame you, for you had been in too many homes to count. You later told me that you didn’t like any of them except for one. How could you know if I would be kind to you? You didn’t, and I could see it was hard for you.
But you swallowed your fears enough to cautiously explore life at our house. I took you outside to see five new kittens. We sat on the sidewalk, our laps full of fluffy, mewing balls. The kittens nipped and licked at our fingers, and I saw the first trace of a smile on your face.
You said you liked animals, so we picked broccoli in the garden and fed it to Scratches, our rabbit. I introduced you to our dog, and you enthusiastically grabbed her leash and ran over the dewy yard, your long hair flying behind you.
Still, you never ventured away from my side for long. You would play until the suppressed anxiety bubbled up, and then you said to me, “I hope I don’t have to go to another foster home.” Again and again you said it: “I hope I don’t have to go to another foster home.”
You shyly offered me your special candy. I could tell that your few treasures were carefully guarded. I accepted the candy with a smile, but it hurt, too, because I wanted you to know that you didn’t have to earn my love. You were worth loving just because you were you.
You were eager to please. You ate what I cooked, even if you didn’t really like it. I told you that you didn’t always have to eat food you didn’t like, because I wanted you to know it was okay to express your opinions.
When I worked in the kitchen, you delighted in helping me. Stirring macaroni and cheese (which I figured out was a food you liked), slicing cucumbers, and arranging fruit on a plate made you happy.
One morning I made play dough, which you thought was magical. Again and again we made play dough, so that you could mix the stiff dough as it heated, color it to your liking, and knead the cooling mass on the counter top. “Just a bit more flour?” you asked, and dusted a little more on your lump of green or blue. Every day you asked, “Can we make play dough?” until I ran out of supplies to make more!
Another day, a child was upset and said some cruel words to you. The words sliced deep, and the frailty that I knew was in your soul came to the forefront. Burying your face in my chest, you sobbed while your tears dripped onto my lap. I rubbed your back and tried to tell you that you were loved, you were special, you were beautiful. But I knew that my mere words could not heal a lifetime of pain. You cried and cried, and I caught a glimpse of the broken heart deep inside you. Seeing you cry was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.
When the tears finally stopped, I took you to Sonic and bought you ice cream. We sat at a picnic table in the warm summer breeze. You leaned against my shoulder and licked your ice cream, still sad but peaceful.
The next morning, you fell asleep on my couch while I sat nearby. I knew you were finally starting to feel safe if you could sleep at my house. For several hours you slept, and while you slept, Will and I prayed over you. We prayed for justice, for healing, for restored relationships. We prayed for a permanent home for you with the relative who truly loves you.
While you were here, I was strong for you. But after you left, I cried. No little girl should have to go through the suffering you experienced. I held your pain in my heart, and in my body. It was hard, yet I would not, could not, send you away.
The psalmist, who ate of loneliness just like you, long ago cried,
For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.
Psalm 27:10 (ESV)
Will and I opened our hearts and home to you, because we wanted to partner with Jesus to give you a place of love and safety.
You are always welcome to come back.
Little girl, we will take you in.
Confidentiality in foster care is important, so I do not disclose any identifying information such as names and pictures.