Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thoughts in the hour before Mallory's arrival

It’s 1:35 and in less than 90 minutes my new foster daughter should arrive at the door. I’m going to call her “Mallory” for discretion’s sake. She’s 13 months old. She had two bone fractures under somewhat fishy circumstances. So essentially what happened is that the court gave her parents a contract, a list of conditions they must fulfill over the course of several months. If the parents comply, Mallory will go back home. Which the caseworker believes is highly likely. So it appears our family will have this baby all summer, then give her back.

Yes, our long-term goal is to adopt another child, but for now we’re throwing ourselves into the role of foster parents. Which as my brother Mark says, “is a weird thing you do.” Our job is to love this baby heart and soul. To give her so much love and security that this traumatic time—injured by someone who should have been caring for her, inexplicably bounced from shelter mom to aunt’s house to this new house full of crazy kids—leaves her no scars. To pour all we can into her despite the knowledge that it’ll all make it that much harder on the day we drop her off, drive away, and never see her again.

And on top of that, our job is to love and support her parents. To look with compassion on people who clearly don’t know how to provide a safe, healthy home. To do all we can to lift and encourage them to become effective parents. And if they choose to hate and resent us—which at least some of the time they will surely do—our job is to absorb and ignore it and return only love and encouragement.

Yesterday afternoon I drove through a drenching summer rainstorm to buy Mallory a car seat. I felt pulled apart inside, on the verge of emotional meltdown. Partly I was nervous about starting this new chapter of craziness. But more, I think I was grieving for the day when this girl will leave. I know no other way to care for a baby than to become attached, body and soul. How else can it be done? I’ve lived through letting a beloved foster daughter go home where she belongs, and I crave that girl still. And I’ve lived through the joy of being sealed to a foster daughter and making her as mine as she could possibly be.

Last night for Family Home Evening, we told the kids that Mallory would be our family’s summer project. I feel one of the best things we have to offer a foster child is siblings. The kids have been such a blessing for their foster sisters, opening their home and hearts to them, showing them what healthy childhood should be. Levi enthusiastically chimed in that when he came home from school he would run up to Mallory and give her a huge hug. So we talked about how Mallory might be feeling sad and scared and that we’d have to watch her and think about how she was feeling in this new situation. So this morning, Levi demonstrated for me how when he comes home from school he’ll gently creep up to Mallory. He crouched down with his hands on his knees and chirped softly, “Hi Baby Mallory.”


  1. Your children certainly will be a blessing for Mallory - just as they are to Haley. And you parents will be too.
    I am touched by your post and it's poignancy. I want to give YOU a big hug and say "thank you" on behalf of all the potential foster children who will benefit from touching your family.
    Good luck and our prayers to all!

  2. Wow. I'm actually speechless. She is blessed to have you and your family.

  3. Best wishes of joy through this.

  4. I am just amazed at what you and your family are capable of, but I am most amazed that you step up to do what others won't! Wishing ALL of you the best summer!

  5. Yes, again another reason why we think you guys are so wonderful. Mallory is one lucky little girl:)

  6. Very well-written. I was touched.

    And you are crazy too. I can't even handle my four and I can't wait to see you next month so you can inspire me in person.

  7. Why did that last bit about Levi make me cry?

    You're all going to do great, and you'll have the strength to give her back when the time comes knowing that you provided what she needed during this time. We'll pray for you guys and anxiously await your updates.

  8. I hope having Mallory will be a great experience. You will surely be blessed for helping this little one, and it will definitely be worth all the love you put into her. April is also 13 months, so I can picture Mallory's stage of life well. She may love soft dolls and bears, board books, and music like April does. She will no doubt be very precious to each member of your family. Congratulations!

  9. Wow, what a generous loving thing for your family to do. I hope it goes well this summer.