Memoirs of a Momma: Choosing Heartbreak

Just after deciding to begin foster care, a friend of mine asked me over.  She cooked me a meal, gave me a window into her life, and opened up her heart.  At the time, she and her husband were smack dab in the middle of the uncertainty of foster care adoption.

“When you step into parenting biologically,
you know there is always the possibility
that tragedy could strike and break your heart,”
she said, “but when you become a foster parent,
you walk in knowing that
there is no way to leave with your heart in tact.”

Then she shared with me what heartbreak looked like for their family.  For them it meant either losing a son whom they have treasured as their own as he returned to his biological family, or aching over the permanent breakage of that irreplaceable biological relationship for this beloved child whom they have loved so wholly and so deeply.  She shared how they longed to call him ‘son’ forever right alongside her conviction that to pray for his permanence in their home meant to pray failure for his mother and brokenness for his family.

This is the deep ache of foster care. This is where, holding tight to tiny hands, we find ourselves grappling with the slow-sinking reality that no matter how the pages turn – any hopeful, happy ending remains tainted with the brokenness that brought this precious child into our arms.

My situation is a little bit different.  One way or another I will have to say goodbye to each child that has entered my home and captured my heart.  Even last fall, as we began to look forward to what we thought then would be short-term, emergency foster care, I didn’t dare imagine our impact on each child would be tangible.  The babies we would welcome into our home would be safe and sound, but they would be far too young to remember the love that would cover them or the prayers showered over them.  At such a young age, for such a short time, surely no amount of preaching the gospel or telling Bible stories before bed would impact their future relationships with the Lord – the only truly happy ending that exists for us all.  But to allow them to wrap their tiny fingers around our hearts so completely that the fingerprints left behind last a lifetime…. perhaps then we will spend not just days or weeks caring for this child, but years and years praying, pleading before God Almighty that they might know the joy that awaits them in His open arms.

The impact I imagined wasn’t to be remembered but to remember.

To welcome them into our hearts unguarded means to watch our hearts shatter as they leave – regardless of where they are headed.  See, it’s the heartbreak itself that in so many ways is our ministry; the unceasing ache that leads to tear-stained prayers at the foot of the cross.  Who knows but that one day I may sit at the table of the Lord, embracing a child whom I held for a few months and prayed over for a lifetime that they might know and love the Lord?


…if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;

Isaiah 58:10-11


To follow Jesus into the foster care system means to long for redemption, knowing just how broken the circumstance may be.  It means loving each child as your own, unguarded and unreserved, all the while longing wholeheartedly for the reconciliation of their families.
This is the heartbreak we choose.  Willfully.  Intentionally.  Over and over again.  Because to live with authentic abandon to the gospel of Christ means to be wrung out time and again, trusting that the Lord is greater than our grief, and that He strengthens and satisfies in the midst of our pain.


Version 3


~ by eileendekker on September 19, 2018.

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