Late last year my spouse and I got the call we’d been waiting for. We had been chosen! After a long process to become licensed pre-adoptive foster parents, we had been matched with a sweet little baby who was coming home that same evening.
She arrived on a rainy/snowy evening just after dark. The social worker’s car pulled into our driveway, and we were waiting like children at the window, rushing out to meet her before she could even open her door. Baby was in a car seat with a fuzzy cover keeping her warm and safe from the drizzle. My spouse brought her up with tender excitement, remarking at how light the bundle was. We welcomed the worker into the house, our eyes focused on that infant carrier as we peeled back that zipper to see the tiny face of a child who instantly stole our hearts. It was love at first sight as we took in her full head of hair, her beautiful skin, her strong wide nose, and, when she finally woke up, the beautiful bright eyes that brought tears to ours.
Our placement is considered a high legal risk because parental legal rights have not yet been terminated. This means, in practical terms, that adoption is not a given. The system believes it may happen, but it is not guaranteed.
I have learned that few important things in life come with guarantees.
With the arrival of our precious little one, also came a parade of professionals: social workers, advocates, attorneys, physical therapists, more social workers, all with their own roles in our unfolding adventure.
Everyone had wisdom to share with us.
Some of it was standard advice: “Cherish the moment, slow down, take naps.”
Some of it was legal advice: “Attend hearings, even though it’s not required of you.
Some of it was just flat out terrible advice.
The worst advice I heard was the warning to be cautious with our love.
“You know this is risky. Be careful.”
When faced with life’s many uncertainties, the answer is never going to be “love less.” If that’s the answer you come up with, you are asking the wrong questions.
There are a million terrifying things that can happen in the world that could lead to losing a child—biological, adoptive, pre-adoptive, god-child, student, sobrinx, or little friend.
Children are born with diseases. Children are exposed to toxins; they are poisoned by drinking water in our own country.
Children are lost to SIDS, children are lost in custody battles, and children are removed by courts.
Children are harmed in accidents.
Children die in chemical attacks in other nations while the U.S. argues over which lives are worthy of entrance into our country and which ones are not.
Mothers’ babies are shot down on their way home from getting skittles and iced tea.
Miscarriages happen, leading to the loss of the long-anticipated one; infertility robs families of dream-child possibilities.
Loss is real and it is agonizing and it is terrifying and it is deep.
The answer is never to love less. Love is risky.
There are no guarantees in life or in love.
There is no way to protect ourselves against loss, or the possibility of loss, or the fear of loss.
My answer is to love fiercely.
Because I am a woman of faith who believes in a God of love and compassion.
Because I am a mother.
Because the ones I love deserve to be loved fiercely.
Because the world needs more love.
Because I believe what Christ taught: that love makes a difference. Love for God. Love for self. Love for neighbor. Love for a sweet, little giggly babe.
I don’t want to waste time with caution. I want to love every chance I get!
I wouldn’t be a spouse, a parent, or a sister-friend if I wanted to stay safe.
I wouldn’t be a Christian if I wanted to stay safe.
I will love as much and as hard as I can, for as long as I can.
I will continue to start my day waiting for my baby’s first bright smile, or even better, a toothless bark of a laugh—she’s still working on her giggle and it is a wonder to behold!
My baby’s first smile of the day, followed by a flurry of kisses, sets the tone for me to go into the world. This is my morning devotional. It is my daily reminder of God’s presence and awesomeness.
Every day we get to share will start with this prayer: “Let the giggles be all the amen I need.”
*If you feel called to become a foster or adoptive parent I encourage you to look up your local department of children and family services and ask about how you can become a foster or foster-to-adopt parent. It isn’t safe but it’s worth it!
Thea Racelis is a Latina Queer Theologian and Pastor; educator, dreamer, and activist. Thea is committed to ministry from/with the margins and at the intersections.