“Favorite Memory Fridays” is a place for readers to hear the favorite memories and moments of other foster/adoptive parents. This week Martina will be sharing one of her favorite memories. Martina is a graphic designer in Nashville, TN who became a foster parent with her husband Jason to their first child, Ladybug, in July of 2011. After Ladybug was reunited with her birth family, Martina and Jason met their daughter, Ali, who was adopted on August 7, 2012! Martina, Jason and Ali are pictured above with their cocker spaniel, Lucy. You should follow their adventures like I do at www.mymcmlife.com
Last summer Jason and I went to our neighborhood ice cream shop with our good friends. They were eager to catch up with us because we had our first foster daughter with us—16 month old Ladybug—and we were all anxious to see how she’d react to a bowl full of delicious ice cream. The line was pretty long so took turns holding her. While our friend Jeremy was holding her, suddenly Ladybug reached out her arms to the woman in line behind us. Ladybug had been staring at the woman and when she smiled and waved, Ladybug took that as an invitation. The woman had a kind face and a colorful scarf on her bald head. Ladybug was relentless reaching out to the woman so Jeremy asked if she’d like to hold her, shooting us a glance to make sure we were OK with it. The woman uncrossed her arms and Ladybug settled onto her hip. She just checked her out, looking into her eyes as the woman smiled back at her.
I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable. As a foster parent, I know we’re supposed to build healthy attachments with our kids and protect them. Willingly handing her to a stranger is the opposite of both. This woman seemed safe enough but Ladybug was our first placement and I was always on edge with irrational thoughts about her biological mom showing up at our doorstep or randomly bumping into a relative at the grocery store. We attempted to get Ladybug’s attention and coax her back a few times but she was so content in this woman’s arms, she ignored us. I hated to break the moment. Eventually we got our ice cream and Ladybug was lured back to us with sweet, frosty goodness.
We talked about that experience a lot afterward, even mentioning it to Ladybug’s case worker who agreed: probably not a good idea to let her go to a stranger. Noted. But, Jason and I both had the feeling that our special little girl might have really made that woman’s day.
There is a theory called the butterfly effect which states “that a butterfly could flap its wings and set air molecules in motion that, in turn, would move other air molecules–which would then move additional air molecules–eventually becoming able to influence weather patterns on the other side of the planet.” Even the smallest things we do can make a world of difference.
Imagine my surprise a little more than a year later when I received an email from the woman in the colorful scarf. She had stumbled upon my blog and decided to reach out to see if she had found that family from the ice cream shop, knowing it was a long shot. She confirmed that she had been going through chemo at the time and Ladybug’s unrestrained gesture of love had meant a lot to her. In the silent moments between the two of them, volumes were spoken, stories of pain and fear were exchanged and both souls were encouraged.
We went into foster parenting wanting to demonstrate the love of Christ to hurting children — that first flap of a butterfly’s wings that sends air molecules moving, moving, moving towards something better, stirring up hope for the future. What we had not expected was that one of the kids might turn around and demonstrate that same love to someone else, more freely than we know how to do as adults. Everything you do matters.