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Saying goodbye

By Jodie Whitcombe

This 'letter' was written to my foster son. It was a letter just for me, I never sent it or read it to him as he was far too young to have all these adult feelings loaded onto him. I wrote it to come to terms with my own feelings as I prepared to say goodbye to the boy who had called me "Mama" for five months...

Dear little one,

We were the "perfect American family.” The mom and dad with two kids, a girl and

a boy, complete with a cat, a house with a yard, and a mini van. We thought the next craziest thing that would happen in our lives is that we would go from a family of four to a family of five when our baby girl that I was pregnant with was born. We were planning on closing our home as far as our fostering journey went. We had

no idea we would go from a family of four to five and then from four to five again all in just under six months of craziness.

Then you came. You looked like a little chubby cherub boy with your ringlet curls. You are beautiful. You are precious and sweet natured. It was hard for us to adjust to having three kids from two. With you I had 1-year-old "almost twins." You were sickly. You had a lot of doctor appointments. You made little girl 1-year-old

insanely jealous at first. You are heavy and wanted picked up and carried constantly. But somehow, before long, you belonged. You look like you could be ours. You act like you have always been here. You have captured our hearts even with the unknowns that slowed the bonding process, we couldn't help it. We have

bonded to you. We are attached to you. We love you so very much.

When I started to become apparent your safe haven was not going to be with your birth parents, we very much hoped that we would get to be your family forever. We began to dream of what it would be like to have you be our adopted son. I thought about that day. About the big party we would have had to celebrate your adoption.About spending Christmas with three kids and a newborn, when last year there

were just two.

I thought about if I would or wouldn't change your name if we got to adopt you. I wouldn't have. Your name is just perfect. When people met you, they all said to me you don’t look like your name. But I always thought you did. From

the time we got a call about you, I had a feeling you would have those lovely curls.

And why wouldn't we get to adopt you? You fit in just perfectly. After all, it's been five and a half long months of you growing and changing in our care. You are like a different child then the one I picked up late that flurrying cold night five and half months ago.

You’ve been with us a third of your existence on earth. You are so different than you were! We taught you that when you cry, you will be heard. We helped you believe that you matter, and that people love you, and that you deserve to be cared for. We have held you, carried you, rocked you, changed you, sang to you, read to you, talked to you, played with you, bathed you, dressed you, fed you, and cherished you. We helped get you healthy and strong. We taught you that when we leave the room, we will come back. We taught you that you didn't need bottles anymore, and that brushing your teeth isn't scary. You tried new foods, and went on adventures with us. You practiced walking until you could also run and climb so well you that you drive me crazy getting into things! The list is long of the firsts you experienced in our home, and the things you learned- how to go up and down the stairs, seeing the ocean, playing with bubbles, going to the zoo, playing at the park, playing in cardboard boxes with crayons, going to church.

You have grown 3 whole inches! You outgrew the shoes we bought you when you came to us, when you could barely walk. We taught you that other kids are fun, and not to be afraid of others. You learned high fives, kisses, hugs, waving, and your first words. Mama. Mama was your first word. I remember when you said it. It stung me and also gave me great joy. You said it to me. But I am not your mama. Even though it feels that way now. Every day you have been here you have became more and more mine in my heart.

Yet the reality is we draw closer and closer to the day that you aren't going to be mine at all anymore. So very shortly after you go, I am going to give birth to my third baby, but in many ways she feels like the fourth. I wonder how long it'll feel that way. I know when you go there will be a "someone is missing" sort of feeling for a while. I already feel it when you are gone on the weekends. When I go to unbuckle you, and you aren't there. When I tip toe in the kitchen, thinking you are napping in the playpen in the play room right below, and you aren't there. When we go places with the kids and the adults to toddler ratio is even and it feels just a little too quiet and easy. There are a lot of things to miss about you. Your soft curls. Your big toothy smile. Your laugh. Your chubby arms reaching up for me. Your adorable belly. The way

your eyelashes are so long and curly- I wish my eyelashes were as gorgeous as yours! The way your chin quivers when you are really upset. How you say "no-no" and shake your head. Your funny, crazy way that you run. The way you curl your toes under the tray in your booster seat at breakfast. How you will now give

anyone a big smile without hesitation- you have made many an old ladies' day at the grocery store on our grocery store dates because I brought you with me everywhere. When I left the others with a sitter, I would bring you. You were always right next to me. I felt we needed that special time to get to know one


My son asks about your future and I tell him: 'You are going to be so happy'. You are going to live in a beautiful home with your half-brother and a very sweet adoptive mom who is always going to love you. You are going to have many toys, and many fun adventures. Her whole extended family is going to love meeting you and showering you with gifts. You will grow fast, and you won't remember ever living here. But you will be happy. You will be safe and well cared for. You will be where you belong. I tell my son these things. And I mean them. I do. And my son often says things like, “He can't live there, because he lives with me." Or "I just don't know, mama." But I also just don’t know 100%. Because you won't be with me. I can't know.

But I trust. I trust that it will bring much blessing into the world. The same way that when you

came it seemed like less than perfect timing, but it ended up being one of the biggest blessings in my life. You taught our family so much. I would never take these last months back, even if they were some of the toughest ones I have gone through. You are a blessing in and of yourself. And I have to trust that where you are going that this ability you have to bless life will follow.

You taught me to let a lot of things go. Messes. Hurt feelings. Having to not know what is going to happen in the future, and yet to keep going. You taught me to accept help. A lot. It busted up my pride, badly, little one. I needed so much help to do everything I needed to care for you well. To get to the places you needed to go. To not go insane in the process. You taught me God will always provide. When it seemed I couldn't make it another day, things just would be okay. Sometimes it was a friend who just showed up. Sometimes in words of a complete stranger. Sometimes in an extra long nap time. Sometimes in a random hug from a toddler, "I love you, Mama."

You taught me how to love a different kind of love. Towards you. Towards your birth family. Towards your caseworker. You taught Mr. Chris and I to be darn good teammates. To love and support each other even

more than we ever have before. We will always be stronger, better people because of you.

I have no more time, little one. You and little girl 1-year-old will be awake soon from your naps. My son’s movie will end. The seemingly constant demands you three little ones make will start, and I will not have much time to think more about how very sad I am that you will be leaving one week from today. Your adoptive mom comes to get you in two hours for the weekend. So really, I only get you for five more days week. It will end, little one. So very soon.

I comfort myself in thinking you can always be a little mine because I will always remember you. I have lots of memories. I will always have the photos, though I never got to share your sweet smile on my Facebook feed. I will have more confidence in myself, my husband, my kids and our ability to adapt.

This is all bigger than me. Bigger than the sadness of this moment, and the moment coming next Friday. It will hurt to lose you. I know you were never mine, but it does feel like a loss. I know I will heal. And I will be eternally grateful for everything you have brought into our lives- even the hard parts. I will even heal enough someday to be brave again, and to do the next crazy thing that I am called to. But that will

take time. For now I can just cry a little and pack an overnight bag for your weekend visit. I can say a prayer for your future. I can grab two cookies and go spend a few sweet moments with my son before you all wake up and drive me crazy all over again. And I can be thankful for you and for the five days I have left

to spend with you in my arms.

Thank you, little one.

I love you.

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