When I was a foster parent people would always say to me, “I couldn’t do that because it would break my heart to let them go.” Or, they’d ask me, “How do you love a child for so long and then send them away?” I never had a good answer except to say that I loved them as much as I could for whatever time that God placed them in our care. It never occurred to me to “not” be a foster parent to protect my heart from being broken. I couldn’t imagine living a “protected heart” life.
How does someone go through life so afraid of losing a piece of their heart that they never share it? It’s almost an oxymoron to guard one’s heart because by guarding it, you are ultimately starving it. To never have loved and lost is so much sadder than having loved and lost, because in loving and losing, our hearts become stronger and more compassionate.
My friend was just here visiting me after having to put both her dogs to sleep on the same day. She loved those dogs - even had them groomed the day they were put down. Of course, she didn’t know that she was going to have to put them to sleep when she was getting them groomed. They had a vet appointment right after the groomer’s appointment and the vet did not have good news for her two old dogs. She had to make the terrible decision to let them both go together as they grew up together and were never apart from each other. Would my friend have been better off to never have loved those dogs in the first place? Of course not! We even had a good laugh/cry over the fact that they got all gussied up to meet Jesus.
Loving is risky business. I loved all my foster kids. I stood in courtrooms begging for their lives, wiped their tears when they had to leave, cried myself to sleep so many nights, prayed and prayed and prayed for all of them and their parents...but I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that my own children learned how to love others and sacrifice and let go. I know my own children had their hearts broken too, but they are better people having experienced that.
I don’t want to live in a pristine, protected world because I would feel like I didn’t live at all. Fifty-three foster children have passed through our lives. Some stayed for a few days; some a few years and two were adopted into our “forever family”. Well, they really were all a part of our forever family because each of them etched a piece of themselves into our family’s heart.
I wrote a book about my foster children. I titled it, “Melody of My Heartstrings”. I believe it is the perfect title as it says it all - these children added the melody to my heartstrings. Sometimes at night, when I cannot sleep, I hear the melody and it reminds me to pray for their comfort and safety. I picture them as I remember them; climbing trees, whispering to horses, swimming in the pool, singing bedtime songs...it brings comfort to my soul.
Tony told great stories. Jessie laughed all the time. Jessica was a great dancer. JJ had an amazing smile. Nurjahan had a unbreakable spirit. Christine was our lost soul who found her way back. Tasha loved to cook for the family. Nancy baked amazing bread. Jeremy brought me flowers every day without fail. Ben, Olivia, Sam, Gary, Daniel, James, Hollee...I cannot remember all of them now. I just hope that they all remember that somewhere along their life’s journey someone risked breaking their own heart to love them.