After 11 months in our family, today our foster daughter leaves after school to live with her extended family. The past week has been full of 'lasts'. If I'm honest, I've been doing pretty well emotionally...not that I haven't had breakdowns, but not as much as I anticipated when we first began as foster parents. Truth be told, I'm excited for her to be able to live with family because she wants this and loves them very much. She will still be in town and she's already planning different times with our family and with Alayna...yet, she will no longer be 'my' daughter...that's hard. She's called us 'mom' and 'dad' for the past 11 months and that will most likely end. When she comes to our home in the future she will come as a 'guest' not as our 'daughter'. It's hard to wrap my mind around how to transition from feeling responsible to love her and teach her...to trusting someone else to do that. It's reminded me how, with all my kids I have to hold them with open hands. The Lord has blessed me with each of them to love and teach them, but ultimately, He is in control of each of their lives.
I've tried not to make it an emotional last couple days because ultimately I don't think that's helpful for her. If it's super emotional it seems like more of a 'good-bye' rather than 'see you later'. However, last night as we tucked her in and prayed with her, she hugged me tighter and held on for longer and I couldn't help the tears from pooling in my eyes. She asked me to lay with her and so I did and in the darkness the tears just rolled down my face. This little girl has stretched our family, challenged my patience, pushed each of our buttons...and yet, she's also been open to learning, ready to love, blended into our family so well that early on people had no idea she had just joined our family.
When I think of all she's been through and how that story is still continuing my heart aches. She truly is a special little girl who desperately wants to belong and be loved. I pray that she found that in our family for a season, but ultimately, I pray that she continues to learn and believe that the only place any of us can belong and be loved is through knowing Jesus Christ.