I met a mom at the library today. It is very typical for the boys to befriend a child whose mom strikes up a conversation with me. In fact, a different mom very kindly offered me a diaper for Gideon today when I realized that I had left the house without any. So, it’s not out of the ordinary for me to meet a mom at the library. But this was different. This mom left an impression on me that will not soon be forgotten.
We found ourselves to be the only people that showed up for storytime today, and after offering to just look at books on our own the staff insisted that they hold the class just for August. What’s more, is that they decided to hold class while a biological family was having what appeared to be having their weekly visitation with their baby boy in the same room.
While the Librarian read books to my oldest, the family left for a diaper change and then returned. They were clearly struggling with the baby as he came back fussing. Living with a baby that often cries it did not phase us, nor did we pay any attention. But the baby’s mom, clearly flustered, looked at me and started apologizing for not being able to calm her child. Without a second thought, I pointed to Gideon and said, “We are used to it, you aren’t bothering us at all.” I could tell that this put her at ease a little, and she asked how old Gideon was. After responding that he was eight months old, she pointed to her baby and said that he was six months old. Shortly after, we moved across the room to make a craft, leaving them in the other part of the room. As we were making ornaments, I heard the father say, “Two hours is just not enough. This isn’t fair.” Their visit was coming to an end, and I could hear their pain.
When the parents struggled to change a diaper, I could see the shame that they carried. They felt out of control and their struggle was evident. When the mom had told me her son’s age, I could see the pain in her eyes. When the dad complained of the visit nearing its end, I could hear the heartbreak. I don’t know this family’s story, and how much of that sweet baby’s six months that they have been a part of. I’m not sure why they having to have a “visit” with their son instead of spending every day with him, but I could see that mom’s brokenness. Her real, human brokenness.
I don’t know the details surrounding the baby’s case, and I don’t need to. I saw what I needed to today. God knew that while I was still sitting on the edge of the system looking in that I needed to see birth parents the way he sees them. Broken. In foster care community it is easy to see the brokenness of kids entering care, but we are prone to forget that many times there are real moms and dads with empty beds that are just as broken. They need our compassion too.
Because here’s the truth, we really are all broken. When sin entered the world we became a broken people. A people in need of a Savior. So while we fight for justice for the broken kids in the system, may we also pray for the broken moms and dads that for one reason or another are living the reality of a life without their kids. May we remember that they are not the enemy, but simply broken people in need of Jesus.