Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Missing Baby Syndrome--A Strange Case for Foster Care
My husband and I can count to four quicker than a blink. It's how we keep track of our kids. We get in the car and count. We hand out the toothbrushes and count. We sit down to dinner and count.
You might say we get a bit obsessive. We do it not because we can't tell who's there in the blink of an eye, but because we are constantly suffering from what we call our "Missing Baby Syndrome."
We love kids. We'd have a houseful. With the size of our house, we actually do. It's why we foster, this love we have.
I remember our first fostered infant. (Since we can't use his real name for privacy reasons I'll use the name that still makes me tear up when I say it, "Ochee.") Ochee came to us addicted to methamphetamines at birth. To keep him quiet, his parents had also been dosing him with it. Not only was he addicted and giving him the drug stopped his craving, stimulants have the opposite effect on kids' nervous systems. He must have calmed right down. It took us about 6 weeks to do it.
You'd think I wouldn't tell you that if I wanted to talk you into fostering children.
What I'm telling you is this: holding a sobbing child in the middle of the night and praying the hardest you've ever prayed in your life is an avenue of great love. If you want to love someone in the same heart wrenching way that Christ loves you, foster. If you want to be the first soft voice in a young child's life and if you want to know what life's really all about, you will foster.
It's not easy. I sobbed for days when he left us. After the hair strand tests, the heart doctor, the neurosurgeon visits, and the long, long nights, he is now somebody else's sweet worry. But there is a part of him that will always be mine. The first laugh. The first time he touched my cheek and cooed. Those are mine. And the feeling that dogs us, that someone is missing when we count up the tally of our children, that's mine too.
Missing Baby Syndrome is that space in our lives that he filled. We miss him and all the other little ones who have come and gone in such sweet succession. I am so privileged to have had the chance to know them and give them a glimpse of how life was supposed to be.
My husband and I don't know everything there is to know about children, but we know this: all children are on loan from God, even the ones the who grow up right before your eyes.