To be known.

Today we got a placement call for a five day old baby coming out of the NICU. He was there because at birth, he and mom tested positive for meth. He showed no withdrawal symptoms and had nurses training him on a good sleep and feeding schedule. Part of me jumped at the opportunity to have a new baby in the house; I miss the new baby phase and I’m definitely not done with babies in this house. But I had no idea if my daycare could take a baby that fresh, I had no idea if I could convince Brian of taking on another placement, and I didn’t want to waste time finding this baby a home on me trying to get these pieces together. I said no, regretfully, and asked if I could have his name so I could pray for him. And of all the things the placement worker told me about this baby, the response was the most heartbreaking: “his name is Baby Boy. He doesn’t have a name.”

I got off the phone and took a walk, which I do every time we get a placement call, so I can pray over the child and help take a moment to realign my mind. Placement calls always mess me up a bit- there’s so much hurt on so many children and I can’t help them all, but the guilt still exists. I call Brian and tell him the story, and I start to cry when I tell him the baby doesn’t have a name. I don’t know why this affected me so much. Maybe it’s because Cooper’s name was written on my heart for years before it appeared on a birth certificate. Maybe it’s because we all want to just be known in this world, and his first days in this world, he is anonymous, unidentified, unknown.

But God knows his name. God knows his heart. God knows the intricacies of his soul more intimately than any name.

I think one of the more difficult things I’ve encountered in this journey is understanding the minds of my baby mamas. I watched this video today about a dog who kept escaping the safety of her new rescue owners every day, crossing a busy highway and dangerous areas, only to return later and then repeat. They followed the dog to discover she left every day to make sure she could nurse the puppies that hadn’t yet been rescued from an abandoned farm. It was this natural thing for the dog to just risk everything to make sure her babies were taken care of. I struggle with understanding how a mom would NOT love her baby that much.

Obviously circumstances are much more nuanced than that. I have a great example and have lived a pretty privileged life, and that’s how it’s easy for me to understand how to be a mom. Drugs, abuse, mental health, poverty- these are all things that would answer how loving a child sometimes isn’t enough.

Tomorrow we go to court to hear the case for this exact situation we’re in. And I’m nervous. I’m nervous to see the parents and to hear what the judge decides, and to see the parents after I hear what the judge decides. I’m nervous because I know I probably won’t get to see the end of the story for this life I’ve been entrusted with. I pray that it’s filled with love and everything I would give to my son. I pray that this is just a blip in a little life, not something that destroys a human from the inside out as they become an adult. I just want someone to KNOW this child, to LOVE this child, at least as much as I have, as much as I love my child. Whoever that person may be.

This is the heartache I didn’t prepare for. I prepared to love and see children leave to go home. I can deal with my heart breaking. What I didn’t prepare for was this need to keep a little heart from breaking, and not being confident that won’t happen.

The need is great, and being in the actual trenches of the mission field is a lot harder than missions trips to paint churches and do service projects in exotic locations, like I’d known up until this point. But there’s this distinct picture God has painted of how exactly a loving adult can heal a child and protect them in their adult life, even if that adult is no longer in their life. An adult can look back in hindsight and identify specific people who loved them and knew their heart as a child, and can create a structure of resilience from those memories. It’s science. So this mission we’re doing is hard and it doesn’t always feel like anything is coming from it, but it’s important and life-changing. The business of being possibly the only person who knows and desires to know a heart can change a heart forever.

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