Rick and Monique

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Foster Parenting

The first full day he was here Cole looked out our front-room window at a wide and dangerous world that was his vacuum. He was safe in our home. He was loved here.  I now have a tangible something to miss what we've never had. We fell in love with him five minutes after we got him. Cole is a magnificent young boy.  His tiny, trusting, beautiful voice reverbs through my brain and my heart.

It's the eve of the day we lost our first and only pregnancy.  We called her Reyana Breen, and I may mourn her forever.  

We're losing Cole today too.  Ironic.  There's a lot of life I'd give up for Cole, for parenting.  Monique's giving Cole a bath right now.  He's playing with the best rummage sale ten cents my wife ever spent.  He laughs and plays and Monique pours water over his body with the big blue funnel.  

I'd give up a lot of life for sounds like that.  Monique tasted motherhood for the first time in our married life and she was brilliant, and I was proud.  But he's gone today.  He'll be in a good foster home and we're looking forward to our life as a childless couple for the summer.  That's what I said, a childless couple.  I didn't ask for that life, but I am blessed in it.

The foster system is a both sad and happy place.  This young one-year-old didn't bargain for this.  He was happy with his family, and in one day, his parent's consequences requires him to move into the homes of strangers.  We do make our own beds.  I don't judge the actions of his parents, I don't.  But their actions ripped their family apart, and one of many brave little children gains experience he doesn't need.

Many foster children are abused, tortured and mentally scarred. Some of them haven't been abused thank God. But, I'm happy that there's a system made of workers and willing and decent foster parents ready to take the fruits of many scars into their homes. There's good and bad really. Some workers are better than others and the foster parent has no clue about the challenges that face them.  And the rest of the world really has no clue the amount of love and skill these parents are able and willing to give.

And so Cole is gone today.  I'm pretty sad about that.  I take that back--I feel desperately sad that Cole is gone.  I've picked up the toys.  There's a half-eaten yogurt in the fridge--his.  In my mind I have to get him up from his morning nap about now.  What is it about rhythm we love?  

We've planned our summer as a childless couple and we have to live it that way.  I want to.  I don't regret that.  But I'm different-we're different.  I didn't think Monique should've said yes when we got the call.  Turns out I was wrong.  She said God would bless us in this. Turns out she was right.

The wind blows and trees sway.  I'm watching them right now. Are they God's way of saying, "Like the wind I gave you something specific to do and you did just that.  Thank you,"?  We did good.  We were faithful to the task.  We taught him things. Monique taught him sign language.  I taught him how to sleep alone. He'll need that skill for this time.  He was stressed and we provided a safe environment and he flourished.  We feel good about that.  He talks a bit--we can make out "Thank You" and "Hi Dad," "Hello," and "Uh Oh..."  He was a healthy boy, a strong boy.  His parents simply made a couple of bad choices and I expect they'll reunite soon. 

Cole will disappear in the swirl of invisible winds.  He's finished with nudyville bath-time now and slides down my steps one last time.  He takes my feet and my knees, stands and laughs.  "Hi Daa."  "Hi Cole."  The lump in my throat grows like the piece of fruit eaten by Adam and Eve.  The fruited lump resides there and I'm disquieted.  So many "beds" have been made from this one piece of fruit.  I'll probably drain a bottle of wine tonight mourning the taste of this vile piece of fruit.

He's a copycat.  I roll my tongue and he does the same.  I shake my head, so does he.  I loved that.  I miss him.  I love him.

Silence is so bloody noisy.  I don't mind stillness.  Silence I can do without.

Turns out he's not yet the young-un I'll play catch with, ride bicycle with, fish with, or take him with me out on the wide beautiful motorcycle trail. Maybe I'll always and simply be asked to be faithful to the this task for mere moments.  I'll do it. 

The foster system is a sad and happy place.  We knew it was our time to engage.  My sister Gina, also a foster parent, wrote me and said this,"Foster parenting is a unique and difficult and beautiful type of parenting, as you take kids when they are most broken.  I've been learning a lot about how I come to Christ throughout this process."  I'd have to work long and hard to end this post any better.


B.B. said...

I'm sorry Cole had to leave you, but I'm glad that he had the two of you to look after him when he needed it.

Evie E said...

What is beyond -- who knows? But God gave you to a little boy and you gave your love. Love brought tears now as you said good-bye, but so good to have known this way of loving and now let God lead as He may. We are so glad you both said "yes". We, your parents, are learning new things about love through all of you.

Joh said...

I am so glad Cole was able to experience you love. It was so good to see him relax in your presence, even the short time we shared.
I am grateful for your sensitivity to the needs of this precious little one, and I am pleased by your message of deference to making a difference and not indifference.
May God fill your coming days with joy and laughter.

Annette B. said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Rick. Cole has opened your hearts (and ours!) to so many future possibilities. That doesn't make this easier or the house any less quiet tonight, but God is always at work. And I'm so glad that you and Monique were used by God to be the home Cole needed for a little while. Much love to you both!

mom H said...

I feel your loss deeply, specially at this specific time. We were blessed by you and Monique in how you handled this so beautiful and full of love. You have experienced the full extend of parenthood and you gave it your all. May God fill your days with His peace and give you plenty of opportunities to take care of other things to keep you occupied. Love, and share with lots of people that will help. Just let God continue to lead you in what you need to be doing. Plan some bikerides with your bride, do some praise singing even when you feel down. It will lift you up. Thanks for sharing with us. LUY:)

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Your story really touched me. You are great people. I can't imagine having to give up someone you felt so much love for and grew such a tight bond with. It truly takes a special kind of person to do this.

Anne-Michelle said...

God has blessed you with this little Cole and has touched both of you in so many different ways from day to day. The days I came and see all three of you; some days there’s joy, patience, frustrations, and sorrows. All the days Cole has been with you, you gave him the love and faith that God has gave to both of you. God is continuing to use both of you to use your gifts to fulfill others whether it’s with children, teens, adults, family, friends (even if it’s not people), nonbelievers, and believers in Christ. God is still guiding both of you with your Holy Spirit. You have touched my life in so many different ways that I continue to grow in faith and love. Praying for both of you!