Our time with Kaden* was a gift. He had the biggest smile I had ever seen and he used it often. He was completely at peace when we rocked and sang, Jesus Loves Me. He woke up before the rest of the house, so early in the morning, we would load up the stroller and take a walk together. Kaden never uttered a word while we walked. He simply drank his milk and looked around as I pointed out the beauty in nature.
Kaden was only with us a little over a month when we learned that he would be going home.
We spent the next few weeks making lasting memories. My entire family had bonded with him, almost immediately. Each day, the kids would tell me how much they loved him. It was obvious that Kaden felt the same about our family. When Ray would go into his office to work, Kaden would knock on the door and say, “Daddy! Daaaaaddddy!” He just wanted a hug and another minute with Ray. He knew he was loved.
I never quite figured out why, but he had a habit of purposely gagging himself. Maybe it was a control thing, maybe something else, but he knew it didn’t make me very happy. I spent time cleaning up after his incidents more than I liked. Even with the messes, time passed quickly.
As I put him to bed for the very last time, I held him a little longer. Reality sank in that I would never have this opportunity again.
I gently sang his favorite song and we prayed as his head lay on my chest. As I continued, tears began streaming down my face. My voice began to break up and he quickly noticed the change. He lifted his little head and looked in my eyes. In that sweet moment, the one and a half year old boy that I loved, wiped the tears from my cheeks and gave me one of his big smiles. I knew it was his way of telling me, “It’s going to be ok.”
The following day his belongings sat by the door and we waited anxiously. My sister and her family came to say goodbye. Fostering impacts those outside the walls of our home as well. His leaving was a big deal for all of us and Kaden sensed something was about to change.
The DSS worker loaded his clothes and toys into the car and I walked out with him in my arms. Each of us hugged him one last time and as we did our hearts sank. As I moved closer to the car, he began to squeeze me tighter.
I leaned over to place him in the car seat and he furiously began kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs. I had never seen such fear in a child.
I tried my best to buckle him up as he reached his arms out crying, “Mommmmmy! Mommmmy!” In that moment, I was pretty sure my heart was going to break in two. I closed the door of the car and turned around to see my children standing behind me sobbing. It was a terrible moment. Everywhere, the echoing of crying children, and yet there was nothing I could do to change the circumstances. As the car pulled away, I watched through the window as Kaden continued to scream my name and reach for me. I cry now, remembering. It was, without a doubt, our hardest goodbye.
The kids and I walked in the house and sat on the floor huddled in a circle, hugging each other and weeping. They kept saying, “I don’t want him to leave. I don’t want him to leave, Mommy.” I did my best to stay strong for them. My phone rang in the background, as I reminded my children that God must have someone else for us to take care of. We had loved Kaden well and the memories we shared would always be in our hearts. I continued to comfort them and my phone continued to ring. I decided I should go check it, just in case. Wouldn’t you know, it was our sweet Miracle Hill worker and she had a little question. Seven month old twin boys needed a home…
Could we help? The timing was incredible. Our tears from the loss quickly changed to excitement for what was to come.
We still reminisce about that day. It’s one we will surely never forget. We could have avoided our hardest goodbye but that would have meant missing out on months of wonderful memories and moments of pure joy. This family chooses joy.
*(I have changed his name to protect his identity)