Wife and I became licensed foster parents late last year. In early November we took our first placement into care, a three day old baby boy. He is awesome.

He has lived with us as our foster son for the last nine weeks. He is so, so awesome. I talk about him a lot.

Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 adore him. He is their foster brother.

At 1:45 pm today we learned that he’ll be going home to live with a relative tomorrow. Wife cried. I raced home.

We are conflicted. We knew this would likely happen; we were told that 85% of kids go “home.” And we’re glad for him, his relative, and his birth mother! This is the best thing for him! But we’re sad, too.

We’re heartbroken. We’re experiencing profound loss that most people can’t understand.

“He’s not your son,” people must think.

We are all he’s ever known.

We started packing up his things. I held him. I cried.

We are grieving.

On Sunday Wife and I were on a panel at a foster care and adoption support group. We shared how wonderful it is being foster parents. We nodded unknowingly along with others who shared about the loss they’ve experienced as kids went home.

We know now. We were warned. We are not ready.

Wife took him to book club so the book club could say goodbye. They’ve read three books with him in tow. They know him well. They’re crying, I’m sure.

Meanwhile I took our other kids to the store to get a card for Wife, for his relative, or for him. I don’t know. I wept in the aisle and left empty handed. There’s no card for this. He’ll be gone, but not gone.

Tomorrow we cannot do. But we will. We will bathe and dress him. We will feed him. We will play and read to him. We will take him to the doctor for a previously scheduled appointment. Then we will pack up his things, his keepsakes, the cards all the Things have made for him, the special pacifier he likes, and give him to his social worker. She will take him to his relative.

We will never see him again. This child that we have held, comforted, and raised as our own will be gone.

And we will cry some more.

“You shouldn’t get attached,” people must think.

Maybe not. Attachment is best for him, even if it hurts us.

And I hope. I hope we will work through our grief and forget how hard this is right now. I hope I forget how painful it is to type these words as I wipe my face after every sentence. Because then we can do it all over again for the next beautiful child that needs our home, if only for a little while.