Before I had my baby, I was frustrated at the foster system in New Zealand, which favours sending children back to their parents into homes that are “good enough.” Why, I wondered, should a child survive in a good enough home, when they can live in a good one? There was one particular little boy we had who I cried for after we dropped him off. My husband, too, felt angry that this little boy wouldn’t be loved, cherished and enjoyed the way he deserved to be.
When Madelyn was born, I understood why it was always preferable for the child to be with his or her own parents. My baby needs her mummy. The only place she wants to be when she is sick, or tired, or hurting is in my arms. Children have an intense loyalty to their parents, and they want to stay with them – often even in the face of abuse. So now I understand why, when there is no abuse and needs are provided for, children are sent back to their families. Three weeks after I gave birth, I watched a documentary from the UK about families in the social services system. Towards the end of the documentary, a young mother, who was living in a foster home with her two week old baby, messed up and lost her last chance to keep her baby. She was filmed sitting on the couch, looking at her baby, having just been told that she would lose custody of him. She just sat there. One may wonder why she didn’t show any emotion, but I think I know why. Where would you even begin? Straight after watching the documentary, holding my new baby in my arms, I told my husband that when Madelyn grows up, I want to open our home to young mums at risk of losing their children.
In September, I realised that I didn’t have to wait until I was older, had more experience, had more money, had more space. I could help mums keep their children right now. So for the last two months, that has been my mission, my prayer, for one mum who has become a precious friend to me.
Today, for the first time, I’m really stepping out to see that happen. Doing something tangible, but also something that involves taking my child into the midst of people who take drugs and who are violent.
I am terrified.
Nothing bad will happen. It will be totally fine, and there’s not even a legitimate concern for anyone’s safety. But if I had my way, my sweet daughter would never know anyone other than those who live healthy, fulfilling lives, those who are safe for her to be around.
My darling, my heart, is fast asleep and dreaming happy dreams while I pace nervously around the house. What do you wear, the day you take your baby right into the real world? What do you dress your child in? What snacks do you pack? What do you eat for breakfast? Nerves and fear twist themselves in my stomach, reaching their long fingers into my throat where they threaten to make me sick.
There is one thing I know to be true that comforts me right now.
God loves Madelyn more than I do.
He has asked me to serve Him. He will take care of her as I do His will. He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. I can trust Him with my baby.
Perfect love drives out fear.