Being a foster mama is not for the faint of heart. A calling that involves falling in love with little ones who will one day leave your home is a TOUGH job, as adoptive/foster mom of 7, Julianna Klepfor, knows all too well.
But what can be even more heart-shattering is learning about the broken homes these children come from and how it infiltrates their day-to-day life. In a post shared by Love What Matters, Julianna shares the story of a Target trip with her 3-year-old foster child that opened her eyes to this truth more than ever.
As they hurried into Target, somewhere near the paper towel aisle Julianna turned her eyes to the little boy and noticed he was strangely quiet for being in his favorite store.
“I said his name, and as he looked up, I saw the tears streaming down his face,” Julianna recalled. “I crouched down to see what was the matter. Looking up, his bright blue eyes spilled over, tears rolling down his cheeks. ‘Today was Mommy day and she didn’t come.’ The last word pushed out by the momentum of his tears — 3 years old and the ache of foster care and reality of addiction were no stranger.”
Julianna’s heart sank into her stomach as she realized there wasn’t anything she could do to fix the pain, for this wound was much deeper than a scraped knee or a fractured arm:
“My Mama heart ached, hating this place. My vision was blurred as my own tears filled my eyes. These are the places I cannot kiss away the owies, I cannot fix it nor change it. I cannot take away the faulty wiring, the meth exposure, the scary memories or the bitter parts of this reality.”
As Julianna held the 3-year-old as tightly as she could, he started to weep, “letting go of the weight of a million pounds” that he had been carrying with him all this time.
“That day the presents from family, the kid’s meal and the adventure was not what this little boy wanted,” wrote Julianna. “What he wanted was simple; for his family to not be broken anymore. At 3 years old, he and his three siblings carry the burden of their parent’s addiction.”
They sat together in the stillness of the weighty pain as the rest of the children came in closer.
“They have been there before,” she shared. “They are not strangers to the ache of loss, disappointment and the sadness of letting go.”
Together, the “crew” held the toddler close, attempting to squeeze the pieces of his broken heart back together:
“We all held him there for a moment, standing in the gap where addiction has stolen, declaring for him the reality that he is loved.”
Looking him square in his tearful eyes, Julianna told her foster son that she was sad for him and that she, too, would be sad if that happened to her.
When she asked what she could do to help make it better, his simple answer just WRECKED her:
“With the clarity and wisdom of a much older soul he said, ‘a hug Mama, you make it better.’
“(Cue shattered heart and tears),” added Julianna:
“There in the Target aisle at 8:25 p.m. we sat holding on and reminding each other that this road is hard and the price tag is great, but it is here in the depths of broken hearts we find hope. Hope to believe in love again. Hope for our parents. Hope for our healing. Hope to open our hearts. Hope to keep going, despising addiction, hurt and loss, knowing that in the midst of it all, we have found each other.”
Throughout her journey of fostering and adopting children, Julianna says the lesson she’s learned is that she can’t take the pain away or change the past, but what she can do is “hold on tight making the ache a little less.”
“I can stand in the gap where bio parents are unable to in their brokenness,” she shared, “Reminding these little souls that they are desperately loved, known and seen. Reminding us all that there is hope and to never lose sight of that.”
**See more from Julianna on her website My Joyful Broken Heart.