Thursday, July 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Christian

Besides the fact that Christian won't be going home to a mommy, the thing that breaks our hearts most about him leaving is watching our 2 year old (she'll actually be 3 in a couple of months) try to process things.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been repeatedly explaining to my daughter that the baby will be going home to live with his daddy for good:  that we won't just be dropping him off  to visit his daddy for a couple of days and then be picking him up again a few a days later, but that he'll be going back to live with his daddy forever and that we won't need to babysit him anymore. 

I've almost felt a little guilty for drilling it into her little head because sometimes, just out of the blue in the middle of the day, she'll turn to me and matter-of-factly state, "He's not our baby- we're just babysitting him."  On the other hand, I don't want things to come as a big shock to her and I certainly want to be open and honest with her. 

Speaking of honesty, I was recently asked by someone if we were going to tell M. that the baby was leaving.  I was  a bit dumbfounded  by the question, and although I was tempted to blurt out one of the sarcastic replies brewing in my head I simply explained that we had been preparing M. for Christian's reunification for quite some time now.  (Refer to this post).

Other times when the issue comes up (like when M. recently saw me packing up the baby's clothes and asked what I was doing) she inevitably asks "WHY?" despite all previous explanations. 

ME: Because we're just babysitting him, honey.  Remember?  Now his daddy is ready to watch him.

M:  But WHY?  Why is his daddy ready to watch him?

How do I answer that?  As with adoption, I've just decided to keep things as simple, honest, and age-appropriate as possible, but that also means that I find myself saying the same things over and over again so that I don't overwhelm her with details she can't understand.  The problem is that my simple answers don't always satisfy her:

"His daddy wasn't able to take care of him so we were able to babysit the baby and love him, but now his daddy is ready to take care of him again so he's going back to live with him."

M. gets a confused and sad look on her face and earnestly asks "But WHY does he have to go back to his daddy?"

The question-answer cycle is repeated as often as necessary.

We've discussed that it will be sad to see the baby go and that it's okay to cry (I wanted to stress that point to her because I've always had an unhealthy and unrealistic tendency to repress sad or angry emotions- almost as if they're something to be ashamed of).   I also add how special it was to have him in our home and that we can always remember him by looking at the pictures we have of him.

A couple of nights ago as I was tucking M. into bed the subject of the baby's leaving came up again.  This time she didn't ask why he has to leave or state what she already knows will happen, but she started weeping and turned to me and said, "But I don't WANT the baby to go to his daddy!" 

Broke.   My.   Heart.

My eyes immediately welled up in tears and I was glad that I had already turned out the lights so that she couldn't see the pained look on my face.  Why am I so afraid of letting my child see me cry?  Mommies and daddies cry too!

I did my best to comfort my little girl and I reminded her that we could keep praying to Heavenly Father for a brother or sister.  I asked her if she wanted to say a prayer right then and not only did she want to pray, but she actually kept her eyes closed the whole time and kept very still- unlike her usual wiggles and giggles that often accompany prayer time.  

Anyway, with all of the emotions stirred up in all of us over the past couple of weeks it has made us wonder if it's even fair to M. to take another foster placement.  Is having to say goodbye going to be too traumatic for her? 

I don't know the answer to that because I don't know what God has in store for our family.


Jill Elizabeth said...

This made me cry. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to let this little guy go. But I have to say I love that you made sure your daughter knows it's okay to cry.

You're in my prayers.

Richards Family said...

I just found your blog and was drawn to it, because my family is also doing foster care, hoping to adopt and about 3 months ago, we said goodbye to a little baby boy who left to be in a home with his biological siblings and would be adopted by that family. It was the hardest thing we ever had to do and reading your post made me think about saying good bye to Angel all over again and how we have handled it with our 3 year old son. It hasn't been easy, but when trying to decide what to do, we have decided to move forward and try again (our family feels incomplete). We are now waiting for another baby to come to our home and our son is anxiously waiting too. Good luck in your family. Thanks for having the courage to share the good and the bad of foster care with your friends and family and complete strangers. It gives me courage that I am not the only one going through this wonderful and hard experience.