Maundy Thursday, 4pm
“Angel, give me a call ASAP. We need to talk.”
Not a text you want to receive from your DCS case worker.
We called immediately.
“We’ve decided to move Lily to a home closer to her half-sister.”
We hadn’t been notified that was even a possibility.
“Can we pick her up tonight?”
We talked the case worker out of that idea and into waiting until Monday.
We hung up the phone and sat in silence, shocked.
Jesus took the unleavened bread that Passover night and he gave it to his disciples, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”[i]
Our bond with Lily had come so naturally. She had been with us less than four months, but we were a mutual admiration society. After a couple of weeks of trauma-induced non-responsive behavior, she opened up (I reflected on that miracle here). It wasn’t long before her squeals and belly laughs filled our home. We kissed her, squeezed her, and sung and prayed over her.
We dreamed of the possibility of adopting Lilly. We didn’t know if that would be possible, but we knew that the case would be a long one. We would get to enjoy her for at least another year.
He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”[ii]
We squeezed all the love we could into the final Easter weekend. On Easter we stood in the front row during the service and held Lilly in our arms so she could enjoy the worship one last time. She loves worship music. She squealed. She clapped her hands. She bounced up and down.
The four of us watched her, hearts filled with joy and sorrow. We laughed, we cried, and we sang as tears streaked down our cheeks.
On Monday morning, as we packed her bags, called our representative from our foster agency and asked if an appeal couldn’t be made. The equation didn’t add up. This surely wasn’t in Lily’s best interest. She promised to call the state and inquire.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”[iii]
Her bags packed and ready at the door, our family sat in a circle around the joyful and oblivious gift, Lily. She laughed and went from one of us to another as we cried and prayed over her. Maybe the state would change their minds and the phone would ring instead of the doorbell.
The doorbell rang.
We each held and kissed her one last time. I handed her over into the arms of the case worker and we waved goodbye and closed the door. Lily is a waver. She always waves. But in her eyes was confusion and there were no waves from her.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[iv]
Our tears of goodbye only make sense on Easter weekend. They only make sense when our tears are enveloped by the Father’s grief.
We are all foster parents. There is no child who is ultimately ours, no bond that is stronger than the Father’s, no grasp firmer, no love more powerful.
In our unwilling release of Lily we taste in the tiniest dose the bitterness of the release of the Father of his Son. And he weeps with us.
And in our release we affirm the unchanging truth that our children – foster or biological—are most secure not in our grasp, but in the grasp of the one who knit them together perfectly and who gave up his own Son for them.
As our hearts break, may they look just a bit more like his.
We love you, sweet Easter Lily.