Thursday, May 28, 2015

Laying It on the Altar

Written by Erin Whidden 



My sweet little roly poly baby had been with me since August. From the beginning of her placement, whenever the question of adoption was broached (as it inevitably is), my answer was always a firm "no." But as the cold of winter began to give way into the newness of spring, my heart began to change. I knew God was putting something more on the table for me. . . more than "just" fostering. . . I began to contemplate the idea of adoption. Let me be clear, this was not a decision I went into lightly. I came up with what seemed to be a million reasons that adoption was not a good choice for me right now. . . and they were all great reasons. But God didn't let up. He kept impressing it on my heart that I was to say yes to the possibility of adoption for my baby. Until finally I did just that. . . I changed my firm "no" to a hopeful "yes." 

With a court date quickly approaching, I was hoping and praying that the "family friend" who was seeking custody of my sweet BB would lose interest, be scared away, or otherwise be found unfit. I prayed and prayed that this baby I loved, this baby I said yes to would become mine forever. But I've learned in foster care that nothing is ever a given. Even if they tell you it's a done deal, things can still change. 

So I tried to protect my heart, but I think I was already too far gone in my fantasy of starting my forever family. I had our adoption day picture ideas already worked out. . . matching outfits with a smiling toddler at my knee holding a vintage chalkboard that shared our good news of forever. 


I had a plan of secrecy all worked out so that I could tell my church family about my beloved's adoption with her surprise baptism. I wanted more than anything to watch a judge sign the papers that made my sweet girl mine forever. 

And even as I daydreamed my way into being a mommy, 
BB's court day was inching ever closer, robbing 
me of my ability to breathe. 

The week before court was a nightmare. I had already had a rough spring and my anxiety and fear were at an all-time high as May rolled around. Anxiety and fear turned into despair as I found out some information that devastated me. In order for my baby girl to stay with me, it would take a full on miracle. I found myself wanting to spend every spare second holding and loving on my baby, but found myself busier than ever and not able to relax and enjoy our time together when we were at home. And to add insult to injury, I was committed to a small group (Life group through Church of the Highlands) and the retreat was schedule for my last weekend with my lovey before court. Are you kidding me? I was more than irritated at the timing of this retreat, but a commitment is a commitment, so I sent my baby to respite care for the night and headed downtown for the retreat exactly a week before heading that same direction for court. 

On the way to the retreat, God showed me the gravity of the sacrifice that was made by both the Father and the Son in order for my relationship with Him to ever be restored... Jesus was sent by His Father, out of a place of perfection and beauty, to live in a putrid and hopeless place. I can only imagine the heartbreak that God the Father must have had as He sent his Son to a place where He knew He would be tortured and killed. 

And then I was reminded of Abraham... He waited for decades for God to fulfill His promise of a son, but he never lost faith in his God. Soon enough, Abraham's camp was filled with the joyful giggles of his long-awaited son as he played. I can see him now, bouncing little Isaac on his knee and then pulling him in tight for a hug. But the day came when God asked the unthinkable of Abraham. He asked him for his son. I don't know that I could comprehend the grief and desperation that he felt as he tied his child to the altar, fully intending to make the ultimate sacrifice to his God. Yet, there in the bushes, God provided a sacrificial ram instead. He also showed me the story of Hannah. She was barren and dejected. She prayed for years to have a child. God answered her prayers and she gave birth to Samuel. After he was weaned, Hannah took her only child to God's temple, offering him back to God... to be raised in the courts of the Lord. I imagine that it took every ounce of her self control to walk away while her child called out after her, not realizing that God was ordering his steps. The heartbreak and depression she must have felt as she arrived back home without her child. The utter loss that she suffered so that God's will for Samuel's life would be accomplished. 

I arrived at the retreat a sobbing mess. I was physically and emotionally spent from my week. I was overcome with anxiety, fear and despair. But as I left the retreat Friday night, after many tears and fervent praying, I went home knowing for certain that God loved my BB more than I ever would, or could even comprehend. He sees her, He knows her by name, and He is preparing her for a future that will glorify His name. I felt at peace that God would go before me. He would prepare the path for court, and we would be okay. As hard as it would be to let go and trust Him, I had to do it. 

I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is something incredibly special about BB. God has a plan for her life. She will do mighty things for Him. And if I'm not the mommy who is set apart to prepare her for this, then it's time for me to let go. It's time for me to be okay with taking her to the temple courts and letting her be raised so that His will for her life will be accomplished. 
Let HIS name be praised. 

I truly wish that I was writing this while my baby sleeps in the other room. I prayed that she would come home with me. I hoped that I would be the mommy set apart to raise her. But I'm not. 

A week and a half ago, I handed my sweet baby off to a stranger and I drove home from court by myself. I have cried myself to sleep more times than not and I have longed to wrap my arms around that sweet girl every second that she's been gone. It hurts to lose a child. 

But I can say without hesitation. . . even though my hopes and dreams of "forever" with my baby will not come to fruition, 
His name be praised. 

I am grieving, but He gives me strength for each new day. And with each new day comes the possibility of a new little life to love on until it's their time to move on. Whatever my forever may look like, I'm just glad He's at the center. 



Erin Whidden is a dear friend and single foster mama in Birmingham, Alabama. Please follow her blog Fostering Fancies to keep up with her journey.