I expect that in about three months our son will be gone—reunited with his biological family. I ‘m not sure what this means for our family. For now, we turn again to our beloved little four year-old and begin the process of thinking about how to help him make this transition. It’s time for his foster parents to put away sorrow for the moment and have adult conversations about the next few months.
We are about to enter into the unknown world of heroism. We will do what we have to do to re-integrate our fabulous foster son into a family life that will be largely unfamiliar to him. It is an uncharted and frightening world for us as it will be for him also. It is our job to make it less so—for him. I have no idea of how big the hole that will be ripped into our family. I have no idea of how it will ever heal. I have no idea what it will be like to function in a world where he is not.
The things we do and say will all be very heroic. As we set aside our pain and pass our suffering alone and out of sight, because it is not something that we will want to share with him—at least not the depths of it. We will spin the story in a most positive manner so that the strangeness of going off to live another life might not be so disturbing. We will imagine and then employ the most creative things we can to help him. People will pat us on the back. They will call us amazing. We too will someday.
It is certain heroism with a price that I cannot begin to calculate. We will never be the same as he goes or after he is gone. We will never fully recover. I don’t wish this kind of heroism on anyone, nor do I want it for myself. It comes no matter. Look out here it comes.
Somehow, I wish we had had a say in all of this. I would never have chosen this path for myself. I would never have suggested to my beloved partner that we take in a child, expend all that we have as parents on him and then give him back after more than three years. I’m sorry to disappoint but I am not that type of super-hero. I would never have done this thing, no matter how brilliant, no matter how fabulous, no matter how beautiful the child. It was the trap that was laid for us—we unwitting, desperate-to-be-dad, dads.
I still remember the words that the placement worker used when we got the call back in October 2007. When I asked how long the placement might last, the response was, “Oh, this baby isn’t going home.” I realized then, as I do now, that no one could make such a promise. Given the circumstances in which our foster son was brought into care, the better part of me though, believed her. I had no idea of what I was getting us into. I had no idea of just what it takes for a child to be removed permanently. I dived into the pool of the foster care system, not realizing that someday it might drown us.
Perhaps it was destined to be—the two people who would raise the fragile baby to become a beautiful little boy would then have the wherewithal to help him through this bewildering change of life. Were we part of the design for this boy, destined for heroism? Thinking back, I wonder what his life would have been like had his foster care experience been very different as so many are—multiple placements, unattended health needs, indifferent or unengaged foster parents. And the solace is that, that we made a difference, a very big difference in his little life.
As much as I do not look forward to this thing that the two of us face, I realize that we’re not facing it alone. There are many who love our son, love his spirit and his humor and many that will feel the sense of loss. We should all be thankful that Darrow and I were made to do this thing; that we were not given the choice, that we were destined for certain heroism.