August 2018 Column Winner

She loves them, but now they're leaving
Suzie Campbell, Countywide & Sun

I’ve often heard a picture is worth a thousand words. That was never truer for me than this last week when two photos brought forth waves of emotion and even a few tears.
The photo I received Monday morning of my son and his daughters, minutes after he arrived back home from an overseas deployment, made my heart burst with joy. The ear to ear smiles and the twinkles in their eyes spoke volumes about how much they had missed each other and how happy they were to have him home again. But the photo I saw late last week brought a mixture of emotional turmoil my heart was not prepared to handle.
I received a photo and was immediately brought to tears. These were tears of joy mixed with tears of heartbreak. How could I have both of these emotions completely overwhelm me from a single photo? Let me tell you.
A little over a year ago my baby girl and her hubby began the process of certification to become foster parents. Very soon after completing this process they had their first placement.
He is a wonderful 5-year-old boy who can pass with no question as the biological child. He is the spitting image of my son-in-law, both in looks and in actions. The entire family embraced this young man as he quickly stole our hearts. He is officially our grandson and in his forever home.
This is amazing in and by itself. But my child had bigger plans and bigger dreams. She now has seven children living in her home. I am proud, to say the least. I am also quite impressed at how well she and her hubby handle all the ups and downs, the tears and the laughter, the tender loving moments and the all out tantrums.
Each of these children comes with baggage.
Each of them has experienced things no child should ever experience. Each one has his own set of fears and trauma to work through and they all have their own unique ways of doing this.
While all of this is worthy of praise, that is not what I wish to share. I love that they are willing to help these children. I am thrilled that they have opened their home and their hearts to care for these children and to work towards reuniting them with their families or when that isn’t possible, work towards finding them the perfect forever home.
This is where we are right now. When they took in these children, each one of them claimed a piece of my heart too. Each one has become very special to me and whether they are only in her home and our lives for a short time or for an extended time, each one will always be one of my grandkids.
Her second placement was an emergency placement of a little 18-month-old girl. A beautiful little girl, who would not cry, would not whine and would not let us hold her at all.
Soon after her placement it was discovered that her younger sister had been placed in a different home. After some persistent calls and constant prodding by my daughter, the sisters were finally together again. This was a major breakthrough for the 18-month-old. She still wasn’t a crier; crying was not natural for her and was something she had to be taught. But she began to open up when little sister arrived.
Part of this was due to jealousy, but part was a craving to be loved.
Now these two are the happiest, most loving little girls you could find. They have completely stolen my heart. Thus the contradicting emotions.
The girls have begun visitations with a young couple who wish to be their forever mom and dad. The photo I received was priceless. I saw two perfectly content little girls being held by their future parents. I saw a couple obviously over the moon to have these children. You could see all the emotions in this one photo.
Then the tears began as I realized my precious grands had found their family. My head knows this is what the girls need. My heart is selfish.
I am so happy for them and wouldn’t change a thing. I just pray that they always know how much they are loved and that my door and my heart are always open to them.

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