Note: This column appears in the 1/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/21 issue of the Peoria Times
Note II: SAPPY ALERT! Proceed with caution
Exactly two years ago they came to pick up our first foster placement.
We don’t know where he is now, or how he’s doing. His caseworkers never responded—our inquiries as to his well-being were ignored, then forgotten amidst system turnover, budget cuts, and issues more pressing than keeping his foster parents of 10 days in the loop.
I’ll never forget that day when my wife called to say, through her tears, that CPS had called her, and that he was going back to some distant relative, his only kin, apparently, with a clean record. A song that played from a CD on my drive home that day is now etched in my brain as a reminder of that day and those feelings. It was only later I realized the name of the song is “Innocent Son.”
I wish I could say that I think about him everyday, but the circumstances life has brought on since then have kept me, thankfully, preoccupied. When I do think about him, which is quite often, and remember to pray for him, it tugs at my soul in the same way it did to watch him leave, sleeping, carried off into the unknown by an employee of the state just doing his job.
Those were tough days, and we questioned whether or not foster care was the right way to go. It wasn’t fair, to him we would say; to us we would secretly feel. Maybe it was because he was our first foster kiddo—a cute three-day old child in a house with none. Maybe it was because he was truly special. Either way, the connection was sudden and strong, as was the impact of his departure.
My wife emailed me at work last week to remind me that, somewhere, he turned two-years old. I couldn’t believe it.
Not long after we had adopted our daughter through foster care, it struck me what a blessing it was, for us, that he left when he did. Ten days with him only to watch him go had just about drained us—any longer may have destroyed us. Two years ago it seemed like an epic setback to forging a family, but it was his departure that opened up that very lane, not to mention many others.
A few nights ago during dinner with my in-laws, we sat around the table discussing the way things manage to work out. Had this person not done this, this never would have happened. Each of us had tales that seemed unfortunate at the time, but which led us to that very moment of sitting together. Some stories involving elder generations I had never heard, and I was left nodding my head in humbled disbelief.
Two years ago the big picture seemed far, far away, and out of focus. Sometimes only retrospect confirms that God knows what He’s doing. In the short-term we’re left with doubt, fear, and pain. Even proper perspective is fleeting. Sure, maybe He knows what He’s doing, but I still don’t know how he’s doing. Though, I guess, it’s entirely possible that the same person looking out for us is looking out for him.
One day I’ll know how he’s doing, of that I am certain. In the meantime, happy birthday, J.