One of our amazing foster parents, Clarence, shared this very special anniversary story with us. 

Today marks one year that this beautiful soul became part of our lives. 365 days ago, we weren’t even able to get him to smile – he didn’t know how, because his heart and world had been broken and stomped on so many times before in his young life.

Today, on this anniversary, he leaves our day-to-day world, in transition to his next adventure – a loving home to call his own. We are not losing him, for he will forever be part of our family. Knowing that does not ease the pain of letting him go, though we know it’s the best thing for him. Life will never be the same again, but when you fall in love, it’s not supposed to be. Keep smiling my son…, Papa loves you.

Braden had been abandoned several times in his life – by his parents, by foster parents and perspective adoptive parents. When Rosa and I met him at Hasbro Hospital he had been there alone for over 30 days. He had no belongings outside of a Superman blanket and a stuffed animal, probably from the hospital. He didn’t even have any clothing. We took him from the hospital in foam slippers and a gown. 

   The honeymoon lasted 2 days – then his rage was revealed. I had never before met a child his age so angry or sad. He honestly never smiled for 5 months. He would swear like a 30 year old man, bang his head in frustration, kick stuff in a rage and had to be restrained from hurting himself or others so many times – Rosa has the carpal tunnel to prove it. 

   Eventually he settled into our family’s routine. He began to see that, no matter what he did, we would not stop taking care of him, unlike others before. He told the therapist that he wanted a family of his own, so that knowledge and the fact that he and our son seemed to compete against one another made us know that for as deeply as we had fallen in love with him, he needed to be with a family where he would be the only child.

   So, 365 days to the day – Braden was transitioned to his forever home. For as many tears and pains we endured in his year with us, Rosa and I both felt a great deal of sadness at his leaving. We had fallen deeply in love with this little soul that turned our lives upside down. Letting him go was absolutely one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

   But the upside is that we taught him empathy – we taught him what love really is – we taught him to be caring and to recognize what being “normal” was about. He has grown from a child who never smiled, hugged or accepted a kiss to a young man who, even with his life challenges, does not enter a room without greeting everyone. He has never once entered our house, or we enter his, without him acknowledging our arrival with a genuine hug and good conversation! 

   Fostering is about more than giving a child a safe place to sleep and a warm meal. It is a commitment to helping make children’s lives better by teaching them right from wrong, good from bad, and showing them, by example and deed, what a loving relationship is.  When they leave you they will recognize love and seek it in their future. It is joyful – trying – tiring – sometimes painful – and always emotional. Not every experience has a Hallmark ending, but it provides hope for these children who find themselves in situations they did not create for themselves.

Are you ready to learn more about becoming a foster parent?  If so, reach out to Andrea Neri at 401-274-6310  x1259.