This Heartbreaking Photo Shows The Reality Of Being A Foster Parent

We often think of foster parents as selfless people who open their homes to children in need — and many of them certainly are — but one foster mom reminded us that being a foster parent is so much more than providing food and shelter. In a heartbreaking post to the Love What Matters Facebook page, Amber Davis wrote about how it felt to give up the baby she had been fostering for six months.
"We lost the fight. And by 'lost' I mean I didn't get what I wanted," she wrote. "My white picket fence has a hole in it and she's gone. I made sure she smelled of lavender before she left. Filled her favorite sippy cup with half water, half apple juice for the ride to her new home for a bit of comfort and distraction. Told her I loved her and purposely made her holler and squirm from being hugged too tight."
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The baby girl she had been fostering was going back to live with her sisters, Davis wrote in the Facebook post. She told her son that when he asked why she couldn't stay.
"Josiah asked why I was packing up her things last night," she wrote. "I answered immediately from the depths of my heart: 'I don't know.' But then I realized I had a responsibility to try to help my growing, curious 4-year-old grasp something that I still don't quite understand myself: why can't she stay? As I fumbled my way through an explanation about needing to go live and be together with her sisters...I could see the look of confusion on his face...'but we're her brothers.'"
Davis and Josiah had been more than a place for this baby girl to live, they'd been her family.
"She likes to give hugs, but hates being restrained in one. I wonder how long it'll take her new family to figure that out," Davis wrote. "I wonder if they'll learn that she's a bit reflective of the Princess and the Pea fairy tale in that she has to have a soft pillow to get comfortable and sleep well at night. Otherwise, she'll grunt and continually wake up throughout the night trying to get comfortable. I wonder if they'll figure out she loves to fist bump and blow it up right before going to sleep. It makes her giggle."
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There are many little things like this that Davis and her family had learned about the baby girl as she lived with them. She was learning baby sign language so that they could communicate, and hates to wear headbands.
This was the first time she had to give up a child she was fostering, Davis wrote, and while it might get easier, losing a child she grew attached to will likely always hurt.
"The heartbreak is overwhelming me tonight," she wrote. "The tears just won't stop. This first loss is more painful than I ever imagined it would be and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. So the next time I see that all-too-familiar phone number pop up on my caller ID, asking if we are willing and able to open up our hearts and take in another child who needs us to sacrifice everything we have in order to love them for an undetermined amount of time...I already know what my answer will be.
Absolutely. Let's do this. For 6 months or for forever...we're in."
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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