In three and a half years of foster care, I had never done this. I had never joined the sad club of temporary mothers who has had to return a helpless child to circumstances that seem destined to shatter the carefully crafted peace and health I had so gently wrapped her in.
Yesterday, I put a fresh diaper on Baby Sister's tiny, smooth bottom. I lovingly slipped her into a sweet onesie that was just the right shade of pink. I found a complimentary rose headband and admired how perfectly it fit her shock of black hair. I struggled with the buckles on her hulking infant seat. Then I carried her downstairs and broke the news to the other children:
The state worker just called. Baby Sister has been ordered back to her birthmom. Immediately.
There were questions, and angry voices, and tears, and more than a few Legos kicked in frustration. There was silence. There were trembling fingers unfastening car seat straps and lifting an almost weightless little person who had so effortlessly become familiar for a last round of kisses and smiles.
We prayed over her. Pressed our lips to her sweet cheeks. Drew crosses in oil on her forehead, and prayed again.
Then we loaded into our van and returned Baby Sister to the care of her birthmother.
Because the state said it was for the best.
And so we add yet another name to the list of children for whom we pray. Another little one who has come into our lives briefly, and moved on to circumstances that only God knows for sure. Baby Sister has been returned to her birth mother. Please pray for her.