Won't it be hard to say goodbye?
That is one of the first questions people asked when we said we were fostering.
It IS hard to say goodbye. We've only done it once, so I'm no expert. It is a lot easier to say goodbye than to think about all of the kids out there that need someone to say yes. Children that need someone to look past the hurt saying goodbye would cause.
I miss him. I miss him a lot.
It has been three months since I last saw Alex. I can't see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle item and not have his smile pop into my mind. I am not sure if I will ever get to see him again. It hurts.
I have three beautiful kids that call me mom. I have a husband. My kids have someone they call a brother or sister, they have their needs and many of their wants met every day. They know that when they wake up we will be there. They know they will get breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and maybe even dessert. They will go to school, have a house to come home to, a warm bed. The night Alex came and the night he left I slept in my same comfortable bed that I had before and I will after. So did my husband and my kids. We have each other and that made it possible to get through the goodbye.
Alex had everything taken from him.
He woke up one morning not knowing who would take care of him and where he would live. For ten months we did that. He had the same bed, knew that he'd get fed every day (even if he didn't always believe it), knew he'd get taken to school and knew he had a family.
Alex was my son for ten months. He was eleven when he walked in our door and twelve when he left. I didn't give birth to him. I didn't see his first smile, his first steps, didn't see him off to preschool for the first day or walk him into kindergarten. I wasn't there the first time he got hurt and needed a mom to hold him and tell him it was going to be okay.
I was there the first time he picked out his own Halloween costume. I was there the first time he walked into 5th grade and I was there when he graduated. I was there when he ran his first 5K, there when he met Mickey, Minnie and Donald. I was there the first time he went down a water slide. I got to see his smile and joy enjoying every day activities. My husband coached his first basketball team. We were there the first time he gave a presentation at school.
My girls still call his bedroom Alex's room, even though there is nothing left of his in that room. It took me three months to change the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bedding from "his" bed.
We still think of him a lot.
We miss him.
But in the end it was all worth it. I smile when I think of his smile.
He walked into our lives with an uncertain smile and we hugged and he walked away with the same uncertain smile. We are better for knowing him. We are better for saying yes.
Even though we knew it would be hard to say goodbye.
Thank you, Carly, for sharing your story with my readers. I know saying goodbye was difficult, but your reminders of why saying yes with a hugely comforting hello are beautiful. Your words represent the hope that exists for so many children and families. Thank you.