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A Foster Mother’s Heart, on Mother’s Day

A guest blog from one of Aspen's incredible foster parents.

"Mother’s Day is a complex holiday for me. I celebrate my mother, remember and miss my late grandmothers, send cards to my Aunt and close friends who help mother my children.

I look forward to the handmade cards, treasure the art brought home from school, and always enjoy the special chocolates and occasional bouquets of flowers. I adore the phone calls from our adult foster children who I am still privileged to be a mother to.

My heart also holds a sadness at this time of year that many foster mothers understand.

I hold the birth mothers in my heart for the days leading up to Mother’s Day and on the day itself. Just as I could never have imagined the love I felt at giving birth to my babies before they were born, I cannot imagine the pain of being separated from my children.

But I try.

I try to imagine the aches that live in the hearts of birth mothers who can’t be with their children. I imagine their arms longing to hold their children. The pain that sinks deep into their bones and wakes them in the night with tears. The heaviness they feel when they see the card stands in the mall filled with Mother’s Day cards. I imagine the many ways they try to mask their pain and emptiness even though it is mistaken for not caring enough, not working hard enough, not trying enough to get their children home. And I understand as much as I can. If I were separated from my children, I cannot imagine the ways I might try to cope with that kind of pain.

But I try.

I take their children to buy them cards and make homemade crafts. I send handwritten words of love and encouragement. And I close my eyes and hope they know they are loved by their children in a way that I never will be. That no one ever will be. No matter how much time passes, or what things birth mothers do, their children will always love them. Their heartbeat was the first sound they heard, the beginning of their beginning.

A birth mother once said to me, “When you put my baby to bed at night, give her an extra kiss from me. Tell her that I love her.” No matter what happens in that child’s life, as long as she is with me, and even though she may never see her birth mother again in person, she will hear those words from me. “Your Mommy loves you. Wherever she is, she loves you with her whole heart.” It is so hard to help our children in foster care know it is not their fault, that they did not cause any of the hard things that happened in their families, and that they are deeply wanted and loved when it doesn’t always appear to be that way.

But I try.

On Mother’s Day I think of all the Foster Mothers who give extra kisses to children who can’t be with their birth mothers, who hug them a little longer, who wipe their tears when they say, “I miss my Mommy.” And I think of the Birth Mothers who ache to be with their children, who are doing their best no matter what anyone thinks, and who face so much adversity in working to have their children home. I send love out to all the Mothers of the world, whose hearts can at the same time be broken and deeply in love with children who need them to be both."