It has now been 3 weeks since we brought home our first Safe Families placement, this little wide eyed boy with a cute husky voice and a set of massive hands and feet that seem much too big for his little 3-year-old frame. As each day has passed, we have learned many things about him and feel we have gotten to know him pretty well. I can predict most of his behavior and know how to respond to his many cues. It has been so sweet having him and I love and treat him like one of my own.
But there have also been difficult, heart wrenching days. Days he cries and cries and cries because he misses his family. Then he looks at us, a bunch of Korean folk who one day took him away, and although he knows now that we are not all that bad, he can’t understand why he has to be with us and not his real family. And who are we really?
Sometimes he calls me mommy and happily plays with me. He often runs to jump into my lap, grabs my face to stamp a kiss, and naturally holds my hand wherever we go. Yet other times, he has intense bouts of sadness and sits looking out the window as he cries out for his real mommy. The familiar security of a mother he’s been with since being in her womb cannot be so easily replaced. Sometimes he plays with my kids and laughs so hard that they are all snorting like little piglets while other times, he wants nothing to do with them and declares his allegiance to his “real” sisters and brother. We have days of screaming “happylujah!” (his version of hallelujah) while playing our pretend guitars and we have days of weeping with him in the corner of the room. He does not know what to make of all of this or how he is supposed to relate to us.
Then there is my own inner struggle and a part of me can relate in a very small way to the confusion that he is feeling. Sometimes I look at him and he feels like my son. I enjoy his attachment to me and I feel attached to him too. I hold him in my arms and sing to him, bandage his wounds with kisses on top of bandaids, and caress his hair as I read him his favorite books. But I have to remind myself constantly that he is not my son. We are all just temporarily being a family to him and I am temporarily playing the role of his mother. My job is to love him unconditionally and FULLY like I would love my own children because that is what he needs and what he deserves–someone who will tenderly love him like a mother because his real mother can’t be with him at this time.
But to invest and to love him like this also means that I have opened myself up to fall victim to those deep and intimate mother-child bonds that have already naturally formed between my heart and his, and I know now that when this time ends with him, my heart will shatter as he leaves and is taken away to where he is meant to be. It is a painfully bittersweet thought that I try to avoid bringing to mind as much as possible. To be honest, it is frightening, and because I know I will have such a hard time, I desperately want to know how I can hold back while still giving him my all. That, however, seems to be impossible.
So in this way, I, too, have very conflicting feelings. Yet I know my struggle is nowhere close to his. He is the brave one and the one experiencing the greatest confusion and chaos in his little mind which can’t even comprehend what is happening around him. He is the one being thrown back and forth and bearing the brunt of a difficult situation that is a result of no fault of his own. He is the one managing to allow us strangers into his world and giving us a chance to laugh and to play with and to love him. And for that reason, I can love him. I can put aside the fear of my pending hurt as I see his greater pain and his greater need for ALLLLL the love we can offer him at this time. He needs all of it.
The other night, he returned to our house after a weekend visit with his dad and cried for hours. He could not understand why he was with us again and constantly cried out for his father. All night until he eventually cried himself to sleep, all he could say was, “I want daddy… daddy… daddy… daddy….”
Listening to him as I held him, what I really heard through those deeps sobs was, “Daddy, why am I still here? Why isn’t this over yet and why aren’t you coming for me? Daddy, do something to end all of this.” After each attempt to cheer him up utterly failed, we just held him and let him cry. Then when he was finally asleep, my husband and I returned to our rooms and fell to our knees crying as well and begged Abba to do something.
We cried out for God the Father to come, not only for this boy, but for this broken world, and I, too, begged the question of why He wasn’t coming back yet. This world looked so bleak and in the moment, now seemed like a pretty good time to put an end to everything. But of course, God is working and God is also waiting. He is waiting for more and more hearts to turn back to Him and then at the right time, God will defeat the enemy who has been wreaking havoc in this world in so many lives and so many families, and God will gather all His children back to Him. That is the final end to which I wait and pray for. At the same time, I also plead now for the restoration, the resurrection, the wholeness that this little boy needs in his family and that he will be able to be reunited with them once again, once and for all. Lord, we know you can do this. You are sovereign and You are good. Do this, Lord!