Today, I say good-bye to my daughter, forever.
Three months ago, I went to the hospital expecting a baby, as all mothers do. When she was placed in my arms, I took one look at her and loved her, as all mothers do. I left the hospital with her bundled safely in her car seat, brimming with pride and joy and worry and love, as all mothers do.
For three months I comforted her as she cried and smiled as she cooed, as all mothers do. I fed her and changed her and rocked her to sleep, as all mothers do. I carried her in my heart and my prayers and my arms, as all mothers do.
But I am not “all mothers.” I’m her foster mother.
Which means that after three months of the tasks that “all mothers” share, I took on the responsibilities — the burdens and privileges — that only a foster mother knows.
Like praying for your child that you don’t want to leave, to leave, so she can be with her family. Telling her mother that you’re rooting for her and, actually, really, rooting for her. Waiting and wondering when the good-bye will finally come.
Packing up a lifetime — a short lifetime, but a whole life, nonetheless — of belongings. Sorting through pictures, finding the perfect moments to create the perfect memory book. Writing a letter, introducing a mother to her child. Giving a final kiss. Saying good-bye.
Reminding mom: You’ve got this. You’re supposed to be afraid and overwhelmed, we all are. Waking up in the middle of the night, heart racing, sweating: What if she thinks I abandoned her? Praying: God, though I’m not with her, you are.
And then back to the experience that all mothers share, the universal feelings of motherhood: Love. Joy. Loss. Fear. Guilt. Gratitude. The emotions of being a mom.
Today I say good-bye to my foster daughter, forever. I relinquish my role as her foster mother. I happily and sadly pass her back to her biological mother, her mother forever.
And I forever remember those months when I was her mother.