My heart is shattered. There is no other way to put it. I feel like I am standing in a field watching a train wreck happen (not even in slow motion anymore) with my hands tied behind my back and duct tape over my mouth. Never in my entire life have I felt this level of helplessness. Irrelevance. I’m drowning. I love this little girl with everything I have. She is my heart. And in July, we have to pack her little life that she’s built while she has been with us and tell her good bye.

What do I say to her? What piece of wisdom do I try to leave her with? Is it more important that she know how much I love her, that I would do anything in the entire world for her? Or do I remind her, one more time, that she is smart and strong and capable and that her dreams are never too large, no matter what anyone tells her or what she sees around her every single day? How do you leave that with a four year old?

The child welfare system is broken. When I compare the hoops that Patrick and I had to jump through to become foster parents with the very few boxes that birth parents have to check to get their children back, my head hurts. I don’t understand. The rights of birth parents are sacred. They are placed above even the welfare of the child. No. They are not physically abusing her. I don’t think that they ever have and I pray (in my own way) that they never would. But isn’t there more than that? Shouldn’t there be more than “are you PHYSICALLY safe?” How about are you providing a nurturing home? A place for her to grow and learn and explore her potential? Are you feeding her healthy food and letting her run and play outside every chance she gets? Do you read to her and play games with her and sing silly songs? Do you let her mind grow in every direction and build her self-confidence at every opportunity? Are you moving heaven and earth in every way that YOU are able to give her a better life? How are these not questions that every parent should say yes to? And how are these not things that are factored into the decision to return a child to the home they were removed from?

You, my dear friends, have seen every bit of this motherhood journey. From day one. In July, when my sweet girl leaves us, that journey will be over. We are done. Our hearts are tired. Yes there are other options. More fostering. Adoption. But I don’t want another child. She is mine. She was the child the universe meant for me to have, for however brief that time was. I desperately hope that we have made some difference in her life, shown her that there are other ways to live. That someday she will remember something about being with us and it will encourage her to keep striving to break the cycle that she will grow up among.

I’m not sure what is next. For us. For this corner of the internet. For anything. I don’t know how to describe it other than I’m walking in a cloud of nothingness right now. I am so very numb and in other ways, every second is excruciating. God… that’s so fucking melodramatic. I have to keep reminding myself that we knew what we were signing up for but I’ve learned that we had no idea. DCS is a nightmare. This whole experience hasn’t made me want to keep fostering and helping these kids. It’s made me want to go to law school. The only way these children can be helped is if the SYSTEM is changed. These children deserve so much better.

She deserves better. I Love you chicken little. With all of my heart. And I will always be cheering for you and wishing good things for you. Abi Beach