Foster care is a mix of emotions for us big people. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like for our little people.
At ages 3 and 4, I’m not sure how our littles are making sense of this whole new world they’ve been thrust into. I look for clues, any insights I can—as much as they can verbalize and I can understand—without trying to interpret their every move. Sometimes, they are probably just being kids, but sometimes, they are processing, so I try to keep my ears and eyes open to what they are doing and saying, looking for clues into their hearts and minds.
We read books in our house most nights as part of our nighttime routine. Each little can choose one book on the shelf, their choice. I stuck the Who Loves Series on the bookshelf to see what they’d make of it. It’s one thing to work for TFI, and it’s another to see how resources created by TFI hold up in reality. I loved these books before, but it’s another thing to see our girls interact with Who Loves Baby? and Who Loves Me?. Little Z shouts, “I love baby!” at the first page when we read Who Loves Baby?!
She finds herself in the story even though she has drastically different features than the main little girl in Who Loves Me? It’s her. She’s interacting with all of these people in the story. She finds her mommy. She tells me she doesn’t have a brother. We talk about the joy that it is that she gets to see her sister every day. She calls the social worker by name. She finds me and dances like I do in the book. She chooses someone new from church to be the little boy in her class and the girl that has her arm wrapped around hers. They are friends. We talk about all of these people who love her.
Then the book is complete, the day done, and it’s time for sleep. She misses her mommy. I get the privilege to validate that love through my speech. “I know you love your mommy. She’s a good mommy. I love your mommy, too.” Wait. She asks me, “You love MY mommy?” And I get the joy of saying YES! I affirm that there is room to love more than one person and that more than one person loves her, just like in the books.
She gets up in the middle of the night. Whereas normally it is for a bathroom break, lately it’s just been for a reassuring hug. She runs right back to bed after a big squeeze and affirmation that we have not left. We are part of this group of people who love her HUGE.
This is one of the joys of foster parenting. You get to be part of this group! You also get to invite people into this group. Yes, some people are there by the very nature of their jobs, but what an opportunity to show the little people involved in this that so many people love them!
As our little people are processing this new world around them, we want them to know that they have people and that their people also are praying for their mommy. Little Z wants to be reassured that she is loved but also that we care about her mommy too!
We have room to love our littles and their mommy, and they can love their mommy and us. It’s not a competition for who they love more. There is space for compassionate love. I don’t have to be intimidated if I’m not their greatest love today. I don’t have to make them choose me.
It’s tempting to want to manipulate them to say it’s me and to want to please them. But, hear me on this, if I’m finding my worth from being loved the most by children whose current favorite phrase is, “Sometimes I do…Sometimes I don’t…” then I’m going to be gravely disappointed at some point. I will be crushed by their inconsistency.
I don’t want to make them choose, but also I don’t actually need them to choose. My identity is secure in Christ. It does not stand on the waxing and waning of our littles. There is great freedom in that.
I want our littles to be people who love BIG, not in a way that requires them to sort out which big people they love most. It’s confusing to know where your heart should lie in terms of who you love when you’re living with new big people, interacting with lots of new big people, and you see the big people who you used to live with much less frequently. It’s okay to love all of these people. There is room.
I love that the Who Loves Series lets us talk about that. They can love more than one person, and there are so many people who love them. Being in foster care isn’t easy with people coming in and out of your life. I wish that the need for foster care didn’t exist. And yet, more people in their lives simply means there are more people to love them.
They are loved.
And they don’t have to choose who they love most.
Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.
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