October 30, 2013
Lulu left our home on October 17th. She was with us for 6 and a half months and my love for her will always remain. In preparation for her absence, I cried out to God each morning, begging for peace…begging to be ‘covered’ and begging for HIS protection over her. And He delivered.
During Lulu’s last month with us, I began driving her to her visits with her Mom. Through this process, she and I became comrades of sorts. We were in this together and the goal was for Lulu’s benefit. I was also blessed to see Lulu growing closer and closer to her Mom (reaching for her when I dropped her off, giving her ‘head lovins’, smiling, laughing and playing with her), it was an amazing comfort to see the love she had for her Mom as we began to loosen our hold.
Lulu had her first ‘sleepover’ with her Mom on Saturday, October 12th and OCS had notified me of this on Friday the 11th, also saying that the following Monday would probably be the day she moved in permanently. ‘Not much notice’ would be a gross understatement. I panicked. I tried not to, but I could feel my blood freeze, my heart pumping out of my chest and I felt helpless to stop what I felt was the end coming too suddenly for all of us. I managed to keep it ‘together’ until Ron came home. I met him at the back door with Lulu and told him that Monday was it. His face fell. He kissed her and looked at me with “I’m sorry” written on his face. Ron hugged me and asked if I was alright. Yup, that was it. I was NOT alright and with that window of opportunity I told him as much, while holding on to him and letting me cry. It felt good to cry after a day of being strong for the girls and I was thankful that he was strong enough to let me.
The next morning Lulu’s Mom and a counselor came to the house to pick Lulu up for her first night away from us. I had spoken to the counselor on the phone the day before and she could tell I was struggling, so she told me that she had also been a foster mom (for over 20 years) and that she knew what we were going through. She thanked us for truly loving Lulu and tried to offer comfort. When they both left with baby, she turned and whispered “You’ve done SUCH a good job” as they headed to the car. I managed not to cry.
I had made big plans for the day to keep my mind of missing baby, so we picked up Maddie’s friend and all of us headed to the Big Dipper for Ice skating than pizza hut for dinner, Block Buster to rent a movie and a sleepover at our house. I spent the rest of the evening packing Lulu’s belongings in large pink ‘action packers’, organizing everything, folding everything, writing notes on books and burning photo discs and movies to DVD for her Mom. I had dreaded this moment for the past 6 months, imagining tears with every piece of clothing put away. However, the task was somehow completed without a single tear. In fact, it felt good to have so much stuff to send Lulu home with, so many mementos; it was a wonderful day. Yes, God is amazingly faithful. Ron and I joked and laughed about making LOTS of noise in the room that night (simple luxuries we had missed such as rustling the covers, closing the bathroom door), just because we could (not having to worry about waking baby)! And the girls enjoyed screaming, running and playing without any shhhh’s from us to not wake the baby. Lemonade out of lemons, right?!
I picked Lulu up Sunday evening at 7PM and her Mom looked somewhat exhausted (she had even called me at 6:30 to make sure I was coming)! She just kept saying “She’s all over the place!” but with a smile and with love to Lulu. I have to remind myself that she is new to this and that their situation makes it all the more difficult to live a normal life with a baby.
By Monday we still hadn’t heard if it would be her last morning with us or not and OCS was scheduled to pick her up at 10:30 for a visit. When the case worker arrived to pick her up she took baby and said “So this may be it”. WHAT?! I panicked. “I need to at least kiss her then” I said, so I took her back, kissed her and told her I loved her. (Not the ‘good bye’ I had hoped for.) The case worker said they would call me to let me know if I needed to drop Lulu’s stuff off…and they left.
Luckily that was NOT her last moment with us (you cannot imagine the emotional roller coaster of that day). Each day after, her departure was extended and her last day was not until Thursday. Lulu’s Mom had asked what I wanted to do (if I wanted to have OCS bring her themselves or if I wanted to bring her myself), so we planned to have our whole family bring her to her Mom when Ron got off work. We were able to spend the day loving on Lulu (her Mom asked that we not bring her for a visit on her last day but that we enjoy our day with her and say a proper goodbye…thank you Lord for my friendship with her Mom). We took videos and pictures and played (trying to embed the memory of her in my head). The girls knew that it was her last day with us and since we had prepped them all week for ‘the end’ and since they had seen her Mom multiple times during visits, they were prepared to say good-bye. A fond memory is all of us in the kitchen (baby in the high chair) totally rocking out to “I believe” by Johnny Lang. (If you’ve never heard, you MUST here). Lulu was dancing her little heart out with me singing and clapping with her, while Maddie and Olivia were dancing like Pentecostals on Sunday worship! It was awesome and I managed to catch some of it on tape (this WILL not be forgotten)! When we were all in the car on the way and Lulu started to cry, I turned on that song and she began smiling and dancing her in car-seat…bobbing that little head, (a good memory for all of us). When we arrived, Ron and the girls carried all of Lulu’s things up to her Mom’s room and we all sat down and talked, laughed, passed baby back and forth (and back and forth…Lulu thinks it’s great fun). Her Mom was teary eyed, though laughing and having a good time and kept saying that she was ‘nervous and excited at the same time’. She repeatedly stated that she REALLY wanted us to be a part of their life so we made plans to visit, bring dinner some time and in the future have them over to our house (when she was allowed to leave the center for outings). She said she would like us to visit 3-4 times a week and though we cannot visit that often with our homeschool schedule, it was WONDERFUL to hear that she was open to us being in Lulu’s life. After about 45 minutes of laughing and talking, I gave Lulu a kiss and told her I loved her. I also hugged her Mom (as we had made a habit of doing with each goodbye) and she told us that she loved us. When we left there were no tears, not even a heavy heart. How is this possible?!
We left the center and went out for dinner, having a great time. Let me tell you…All of this is so not what I had anticipated. I had fully anticipated something like a scene from the Holocaust…me screaming, them tearing Lulu from my arms, the girls hanging on my legs crying out…yup, this is what I pictured, not this serene simple ‘goodbye’ as though all would be normal when we got home. But this is what God delivered. I am still amazed at just how ‘covered’ we are.
The only tears that night were from Olivia…
When we left the restaurant, we passed by the road where they live and she asked if we were going to pick up Lulu. Uh oh. She knew that she was going to live with her Mom but her four-year old mind had apparently not processed the ‘forever’ part. When I told her that she was going to stay with her Mom now, she burst into tears crying out “But she is so, so, so, so, so, so special!” She did not understand why she couldn’t be with us because as she said “She is so special, she needs to be with us!” I took the long way home and I cried along with her. I asked if she trusted God. Yes, she said. “Do you believe that God’s plans are even better than our own?” Yes, she said. “Isn’t she safest in God’s hands then…even safer than in ours?” Yes, she said. In the end she agreed to trust God and though the tears continued to come off and on they have become less hopeless and instead of letting hopelessness sweep over her, she agreed to say “I trust you God” each time she felt the need to cry out for Lulu which helped to calm her and to resist being swept up in sorrow when she misses baby. I encouraged her tears (Lord knows I have shed my share) but not hopeless tears and she seems to understand that. It’s been almost two weeks now and though she still misses her (and tells me daily), we pray for her and her mommy every day and she agrees that she will be more happy with her mommy (since she is ‘all better’). Madison has handled things amazingly well. She is my ‘realist’ and luckily if I’m okay, she’s okay. She loves Lulu like a Mommy (it’s amazing really) but she also has faith that God’s plan is best. I pray that this lesson becomes a part of both their testimony in life.
I spoke with Lulu’s Mom a couple of days after our goodbye and though life was suddenly upside down for her, she sounded well and it sounded like Lulu was adjusting as best she could. Her Mom thanked me over and over for the photos and the DVD’s. She said that when she put the home movies on that upon hearing my voice, Lulu reached out and cried for me. It’s heartwarming to know she loves us, but at the same time, it tears at my heart to think she misses us. I prayed over and over for God to cover Lulu too… That she would not ever feel abandoned by us and that her heart would be comforted with her Mom. She asked if we could babysit her on Friday because she had quite a few loads of laundry to do and was on dinner duty (and having a really hard time getting things done with baby in tow), so we gladly planned to babysit. I have to say, I was REALLY nervous to pick her up when the day came. Our house was all back to ‘normal’ (we had put everything away the Sunday after she had left as it was too hard to look at all of the ‘baby things’). However I pulled out the play yard for a nap and all the girls’ baby toys, put our make shift baby gate back up and we were ready for a baby visit. My nervousness was attributed to how Lulu would react…would she be confused, was it too soon? But I wanted to see her SO BAD that I couldn’t help it. When her Mom brought her around the corner, Lulu lit up when seeing me, reached for me and immediately buried her forehead into mine (over and over again). She would pull back, look me over and dive in for a head lovin. It nearly brought me to tears (it felt SO GOOD to hold her and smell her again) but I kept it together. We had her for just 5 hours with her that day and it was wonderful. The girls loved having her in our home again and when Lulu would look up at me in the kitchen from the living room, she would give me a huge smile as if to say “This is right!” and get all tickled with herself.
When I brought baby back to her Mom there were no tears from her, she would just reach for her Mom, than for me, than Mom, than for me with smiles. Before I left her Mom asked if we would go to Friends church with them the following Sunday because Lulu was going to be ‘dedicated’ and that she wanted us to be her God parents!!! Really?! Yay!!! I told her that we would absolutely LOVE to be there and that we were honored to be her God parents! Completely amazing.
It’s now Wednesday and I am missing her completely. However, it’s not depressing or even tear-jerking. I just miss loving on her and having her smile as part of our day. I should also say that the girls LOVE having Lulu visit. They are not sad when she goes and seeing her again in our home has given them a huge peace (knowing that our good-bye is not forever). They are amazing…picking up right where the left off with her, loving her fully as a sister even when she has to leave. God has been so good to us, covering us completely during this time of our life. I NEVER would have guessed that in the end I would become close with her Mom, maintain a wonderful, loving relationship with Lulu AND even become her God parents! I am continually reminded of that first phone call from OCS asking if we could take in a 2 month old baby. Before accepting I tried to pray to God and ask if we would be able to keep this baby but all I could pray…the only words that could leave my mouth were “Lord, will this bring us closer to you? Yes!”. And here we are today.
I have no words to describe this journey. I write the dates and note the big events, but none of the above can begin to describe this experience. I am so thankful to have been given an opportunity to love on this little one AND her Mama and to feel God cover us in a time when we should have felt hopeless…it’s amazing. God is growing us in Him in ways I never knew and today we are all stronger, knowing we can face a battle that by all worldly means should have taken us down yet through Christ, leave stronger than before we came.