With foster kids, we often know very little. About them, their background, their story. We might learn why they came into care, but that doesn’t offer a good picture of who they are. What they like to eat or where they like to play. What their favorite movie is or why they love Taylor Swift.
We’re left asking and often guessing. Trying our best, but feeling a bit blindfolded.
One foster kiddo named Nick, age 5, eluded us for quite some time. Staying to himself despite offers of playmates. Sharing little beyond short demands. Avoiding eyes and laps when offered. It became hard to decipher how to speak love to this little one.
His siblings, on the other hand, ate up the attention. Soaking in time together and fighting over any space beside my husband Jonathan or me. Snuggling became an easy win with these two.
So we kept trying with Nick. Softly, slowly stepping toward this sweet boy and his brick walls.
Then, one night there was a window. We were all reading our bedtime story together. And he inched toward me. Closer and closer until his head rested on my chest. My heart burst. I wanted to scoop him into my arms, but knew that wasn’t Nick’s way.
I reached out and gently stroked his arm. He didn’t pull away. I stopped to turn the page. His high-pitched voice immediately objected, “Can you keep doing that?”
And so I did. Up and down his arm with the tips of my fingers. Grateful for this window through his wall. For the hope of speaking love and tenderness to this precious child more familiar with neglect and fear.
Grateful to see love breaking through.