Yesterday morning, Little Boy woke up and came to the kitchen where I was making much needed coffee.
It was still pretty early (I must have made a noise that woke him up) and I directed him to lay on the couch.
After I finished the coffee and some straightening up, I went to the living room where he was. His face appeared very sad and he reached out to hug me.
I sat down on the couch next to him and pulled him to my lap.
“I’m sad. I’m really sad.”
“Because I am never going to get to see my buddy ever again [He is speaking of Big Boy, our last foster child who left our home to transition back into his dad’s home].”
“We might still get to see him, but we have to wait for his family to call.”
Tears started to glisten in Little Boy’s eyes. He handed me the etch-a-sketch that had been next to him on the couch, “Will you please draw Big Boy?”
I drew Big Boy.
And that started the above picture. He started naming people he missed – all of them from homes he’s lived in this past year – and asked me to draw them.
He said, “I had to go from house to house to house to house all the time.”
“Yes, you have lived in a lot of homes.”
“But, you are a nice family. You won’t make me go back to the Children’s Center, will you?”
“No, we won’t.”
His eyes started to glisten again as his eyes peered over the faces I drew. I could see his little heart was hurting this morning.
He then asked, “Why did Big Boy call you Miss Dana?” [Something we discussed before in attempts to clear up his confusion.]
“Because we were getting Big Boy ready to go back and live with his daddy. He wasn’t planning on staying here like you are.” Before I said this to him, I knew my answer wouldn’t make sense and won’t for some time yet to come. After all the homes he has been through, why should he feel confident that he would stay in our home?
He shared stories of things that happened in previous foster homes. And I thought how strange it is to have Little Boy in my home, as my son, and to hear of all these strangers that somehow played a role of some sort in his life. I will never truly understand all he has been through before coming here. I can try to think through it and feel empathetic, but the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know what it is to experience the level of rejection he has experienced in his first four years of life.
He is testing us with questions to see how stable he really is in our home. Despite the many challenges we face, I have to keep conversations like this in mind to keep my heart compassionate and kind in the midst of a rage or tantrum. As much as we have assured him he will stay with us, he has no way to truly understand what unconditional love really means.