VOICES OF DAVIDSON
On Saying Yes
Tara Cargle Ashcraft and her family have been certified as a foster family, hoping to share their home and love with children in transition. Tara writes about their choice on her blog, “Table & Tree.” Especially in this holiday season, News of Davidson is proud to share one piece of this family’s generous, courageous, and unpredictable adventure.
On Saying Yes
By Tara Cargle Ashcraft
After months of foster care classes, PILES of paperwork, and what felt like eons of waiting; we both got our foster care license and a few weeks later were granted our first placement.
Here are the things that I expected to happen: I’d take great care of this little life. My birth kids would be on board. John would be the involved dad that he always is. My friends would supportive and caring.
Here’s what REALLY happened.
I fell in love. My kids fell in love. My husband fell in love. My friends fell in love. We are in love.
And this happened in all of about seven whole seconds. We are in love with a beautiful, smiling, happy, wide-eyed soul who is not ours. Pumpkin is not ours to keep. She is ours to love fiercely until her family is well and whole.
Here’s what I know about having children. None of them are ours. That’s gonna make some minds blow, but what strong-willed children, and adult children, and well – any children will teach you – is that we are their bows. They are the arrows. I thank my friend Beth for introducing me to the writing that is included below. I didn’t have words to describe this truth, but it is what I know now.
Having this Divine Being in our home right now is no more fleeting and no more permanent that parenting our birth children. While Pumpkin is here, we are her light and she is ours. She is LITERALLY (don’t question my grammar) lighting up our lives.
When is the last time you heard a baby giggle? It is insane awesomeness. Like speed of light amazing.
In my worst moments, I am selfish and judgmental. In my best moments, I and unbiased and deeply dedicated to what is best for this little muffin butt. There are some moments where both of these are true at the same time. Foster care is not for the straightforward set. It is complex. It is unruly. It is a beautiful. It is heartbreaking, heartbreaking, heartbreaking.
Let me tell you though about some little hometown heroes.
Within twelve hours of getting the call to come pick up the little gem, my house was filled with everything that Pumpkin would need. Car seats, clothes, shoes, bottles, bathtubs, strollers, bibs, food, formula. You name it, it was delivered. My squad showed up and showed out.
Y’all. My kids. My daughters. My boy. They ROSE to the occasion. I had to beg my girls to let me hold Pumpkin, and to let me feed her, and to let me change her. They are enamored. They are little mamas. This boy of mine, don’t let him fool you. He has a soft spot for little ones and animals. He carries her around and makes her laugh and laugh. He really is hilarious.
My husband. I can’t even look at him when he holds her. My heart can’t take it. I physically can only take like three seconds of observation at a time. It’s too much.
When I re-read this, if sounds like a flat note in my ear. I can’t find the best words or phrases to tell you how amazing and worth it this journey is. It is NOT, as aforementioned, for the faint of heart or those that need all the answers, all the control, or all the finality. BUT…if you think you have space to love and include…you can do this. You should do this. You should call me and I can hook you up with the deets for getting foster care certified.
When I get the call that it is time for Pumpkin to go to the next chapter of her life, I am going to be miserable and happy. I am going to cry (already have). I am going to be mad (already have been). I am going to rejoice (already practicing). I am going to sleep (only way to deal with the hardest things). I am going to sign up for the next one (already making heart and head space).
It’s no secret to those who know me well. I struggle with the church and religion. But I know God’s work when I see it. TEACHERS—looking at YOU! This foster care thing, you can’t do it without believing that there is higher being, a greater power, a love and peace that exceeds expectation and surpasses understanding. I have zero answers. I have all the hope. I am eternally grateful to know Pumpkin and to have her know me. I am grateful for my friends and their generosity and patience to listen and love. I am grateful to my children for their selflessness and acts of kindness and helpfulness. I am astounded by their openness to love and to loss. We talk about it every day. The reality of what this is. It is love followed by grief followed by understanding followed by longing and hope. My husband who entertains so many of my whims, and in this case has met my intensity and spontaneity with courage and strength and the most graceful and fierce version of love.
Pumpkin, you are here now. You are here forever.
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”
― Kahlil Gibran
Editor’s note: Pumpkin was loved fiercely before moving on to live with a relative, and the Ashcraft family Is preparing for their next foster child.