I hold on tight as I embrace the hug from my foster daughter. Her legs awkwardly fumble to get comfortable as she wraps them around me as if she were a mere toddler. Her small frame can be felt as I squeeze her tight and remind her just how much I love her. My heart hurts when I realize these hugs will not last forever, but I remind myself that with each warm embrace I am teaching her she deserves to be loved. That alone is worth it.
I wipe the tears away from my 2 year old’s eyes as she falls down and hurts her knee. I kiss her boo boos and embrace her soggy, wet face, reminding her I will always be there to pick her up when she falls. I prompt her to watch where she’s walking, to not run when it’s slippery, and to make sure her shoes are always tied. These words may mean nothing to her at the mere age of 2 but to me they are a constant reminder that I am now her caretaker. I am the one that has been given the responsibility to keep her safe and protect her from all the world’s harm. I am not her biological parent, nor am I even her legal parent, but right now, in this moment, I am mommy.
I hold a sweet 2 year old in my arms as I juggle the other two children in my home. The effects of the life she used to live are visible on her small, delicate frame. Her runny nose, wild hair, and constant cough are only extra reminders of what life was like before she was rescued. Though her story is not known to me, it breaks me. My heart aches for what this child has more than likely endured. I whisper sweet words to her and finally get a giggle out of her timid personality. Her laugh is so joyous it fills up the room. I look at her up close, seeing physical resemblances of myself when I was her age. Her ears are what get me though, they are a striking resemblance to mine. She captures my heart in a way no other child ever has, quicker than any other child ever has. But just like that she’s gone, and because of her I’ll never view the children who walk into our home the same. She has changed me. Forever.
These are stories, true ones in fact, of the children who have forever changed the way my heart functions. Their stories are forever engrained into me, reminding me each and every day of the world some children live in. Their narratives break me in ways I never knew I could be broken, while simultaneously rebuilding my hope in humanity as I watch them grow and thrive in stability and love. Love is often subjective, difficult to understand, but there is one thing I’ve learned for sure, and that is that love can conquer all, heal all, and restore all. Love is what gave these children a chance and restored lives known as otherwise broken.