“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
The privilege of experiencing our foster daughter’s firsts is not lost on us. Even our adult children love being privy to those precious first moments:
Her toes kicking up sand as she runs to the crashing waves.
Eyes scouring the shore searching for the best, unbroken shells.
Building a sand castle and rushing to fill the moat with water before it disappears.
We talk often in our home about how God brings good out of bad. This comes up especially when she’s sad about being in foster care. We’re sad she’s in foster care. We’re sad about all that has happened in her short little life that caused her to land in foster care.
Although the glass-half-full me wants to skip over all that pain, I know in order for her to heal, we need to acknowledge the sad parts. The bad parts. The hurt. It’s her only hope for healing and her only hope for actually enjoying the good that comes her way.
So after we all agree how hard and unfair it is, we then list all of the good things that have come out of being in foster care.
I start with a few – a warm bed, yummy, healthy food, learning to read…
She continues – ballet, going to school, making friends, knowing Jesus…
This double-edged sword of joy and pain – such a pervasive part of foster care. But, there is joy! The more healing we see, the more joy she experiences.
Sometimes it feels like we’ve stolen these precious firsts. But we remind ourselves that for some strange reason, God has chosen this time for her to be part of our family and for us to be in the front row cheering her on.
Sometimes we forget the mundane activities that we take for granted are going to be “first times” for her. The funniest example was when we attended her first ballet, “The Nutcracker.” As we moseyed to the lobby during intermission, I asked how she liked it.
“It was pretty good, but that was a weird ending.” She headed towards the exit.
Right then I realized that she thought it was over! I explained what an intermission was, and she was thrilled to get a snack and continue watching. The truly spectacular ending of the ballet left her in awe.
So we’ve learned not to assume anything and to enjoy these magical firsts as long as God grants us the opportunity.
I know there are more to come, but these are my favorite firsts thus far:
Swimming with her like dolphins her first time in a pool
Planning and celebrating her first birthday party
Opening her American Doll that she’d been dreaming about for years
Attending her first overnight camp
Lighting the Advent wreath each evening before Christmas