The parents of Lil Guy wrote something to my wife and I that we never expected to read, but was the best thing they could ever tell us. We’re about to visit Lil Guy this weekend for the second time, since we returned him to his parents over a month and half ago. This visit will be for his infant baptism. You never really know what to expect when you have to give people back their child after you raised the child as your own. My wife and I had heard the terrible stories of envy, jealousy and sense of competition from the parents toward foster parents. We were warned by our social worker that typically the parents will want to put as much distance as possible between them and the foster parents because they don’t want to be reminded of the awful experience of not being with their child. The parents generally would want to focus on being their own family and forget all that fostering mess. That’s what we were told. Even though the mother had told us that she wanted us to remain in Lil Guy’s life, we were warned that initially the parents may welcome us to visit but we shouldn’t be surprised if they started tapering away from us so they could pursue their own lives. Parents often viewed foster parents as intruders or the ones who took their baby away.
It made sense to us. We wanted to respect whatever space they desired. So when we try to visit, we respectfully asked for their permission. This time, we wanted to bring a few gifts for Lil Guy – a toy that I found at Costco, which I knew he would like, and a few books that my wife picked out for his mother to be able to read to him. But we didn’t know how the parents might feel about us bringing gifts. Would it make them feel bad if they’re not buying these things for him? Would it cause envy? Would it make things awkward? So I emailed the dad and asked him if he and the mother would be comfortable with us giving Lil Guy a few gifts when we come see him at his baptism. Here’s what he emailed back to us: “Im ok with any help from you B. Remember you and your wife are and will always be his parents as well.”
My wife cried. I didn’t know what to say. I’m sure this isn’t usual. Honestly, I felt undeserving. He didn’t have to grant us that honor. They could move on without us. You know, they really hardly know us. They don’t know where we’re from, where we live, what we do for a living, or what our actual ethnicity is (other some sort of Asian). All they know about us is we parented their child for 8 months and a day. Through that process, I think I was quite selfish about Lil Guy. But they welcome us. I felt undeserving. Though we didn’t get to keep Lil Guy in our home, the beauty of how this is turning out is beyond my imagination.
A week ago, I felt a burden in my heart for my wife and I to write a card to the mother to encourage her because we knew she was encountering some hard moments. I thought maybe our words could offer her some strength. I think we’ll show up to our second visit this weekend with a toy and some books for Lil Guy and a lot of encouragement for the mother and father.
(in case you ask, all the things we got for Lil Guy, we also got for Peanut, our second foster son, who is growing, smiling, and started to talk up a storm. More on him later.)