Last month, before leaving for the DRC, I wrote about what was weighing heavy on my heart – the day I would take my son from the arms of his foster mother.
Every time I talked about it with someone, I was in tears. Every time I thought about it, I was tears.
As a foster mom of a son that I have loved since the minute he was placed in my hands at two weeks old, my heart was filled with gratitude for this woman whom I would soon meet.
The days leading up to our meeting were filled with nervous trepidation, as I knew that I would never be able to voice to her just how much I understood her role in our son’s life.
Because of our baby J, I know what it means to love a little one who is not promised to you.
I know what it is to be up at all hours of the night, rocking, cradling, and snuggling a child that I did not birth and whose sweet little toes I may never get to see fill the shoes of a grown man.
I know what it means to pour everything you have into a child that may never thank you, and in fact, never remember you.
There was so much I wanted to say to her, my Tyson’s Mama Isabelle.
As I walked out to meet her and my baby boy, the tears were flowing.
She greeted me with a huge smile and I hugged her as tight as I could.
She spoke no English and I spoke no French.
Through our lawyer, who spoke minimal English, I shared with her everything I could muster in the shortest and most succinct amount of words.
“You have loved him so very well. Thank you.”
It wasn’t enough. But nothing I said would have been. Nothing could have conveyed how full my heart was at that moment.
As I held our smiling, cuddly son, with chunky thighs and full cheeks, it was quite evident that Tyson had been well-fed, held tightly, and cuddled often.
And believe me, I fully realize that this is not always the case in international adoption.
Because of Mama Isabelle, our Tyson bonded quickly to us. He craves snuggles, makes great eye contact, and smiles and smiles and smiles and smiles.
It’s been three weeks since I met my son. Three weeks since I took him out of the arms of his Mama Isabelle.
When I talk about it or think about it, it still brings me to tears.
But it isn’t out of sadness.
It’s out of a heart that overflows with emotion for the gift of a son who now carries my last name.
It’s from a heart filled with thankfulness for the selfless love of a foster mom caring for our baby 4,000 miles away.
It’s because of a heart bursting with love for my own foster son who is a miracle and gift that I one day may have to return.
I can’t guarantee the tears will stop anytime soon, because they are filled with gratitude and awe at this life we’ve been given.
Thank you, Mama Isabelle. You were an answer to five months of prayer for our son and a tender reminder to me of my call as a foster mom.
Leslie has been married to her husband Brian for almost three years. They live in Montgomery, Alabama where Leslie works for a nonprofit agency and Brian is a student pastor. They are passionate about caring for the orphan and have helped start ONEfamily, an adoption, foster care, and orphan care ministry in their church. Their free time is made up of watching football, eating Mexican food, and spending time with their rambunctious puppy, Knox. They have chosen to adopt first and are currently fostering a little guy and just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo with their son. You can read more about their adventures here.