The children that come to me are wilted, root bound, or have root systems so shallow that their hold on this world is tenuous. They are fragile and dry, fearful and bent by the weight of what they carry. Their voices are now almost non-existent, a whisper of the scream that was their first breath in this world. What they all need is intensive tender care, for me to pour my love into them so that they may again begin to grow straight and true, solid and properly grounded. Again, I start from the ground up, removing weeds, preparing fresh soil.

I forget between each new child how much of myself I must be willing to share, how much my other children must shift so that others can take flight. I go to bed some evenings feeling as if a cannonball has barreled its way through my chest, my heart hollow and bruised. I agonize over having enough time to connect with each child in a special way each day, having enough brain to keep appointments, boyfriends, menus, homework schedules, straight. I awake refreshed, and am grateful for the gift of deep, dreamless sleep.

There are appointments, professionals, counselors, birth family, language barriers, cultural challenges, doctors, lawyers. Always so very many things, all equally important and overwhelming in quantity. And there are the children. My children, the children who come from other places, other mothers. All with such ferocious need. There is the knowledge of how important each word and deed is, that I am writing on the slate of who these young people are, that there is no room for mistakes yet mistakes are inevitable.

People wonder how I do it. I often marvel at it myself, where the endless ability to do and provide comes from within me. I receive my foster children into the palms of my hands, each seedling stunted and struggling. It is my work to turn their faces to show them light, strip them of errant leaves, free them from the parasites of fear and anxiety. It is my work to place these babies into fertile ground, tuck them in next to my sweet faced children, and shower them with the endless millions of things that will nurture their souls and spirits so that they can one day fly free.

I am confounded at the endless well of energy that supplies me. Meals get prepared and appointments confirmed, day after day. My feet propel me forward and my hands remain open to give, my children all give me grace. We struggle together to define who we are, the newest ones finding their place at the table, the warmth of our hearth. The rhythm of our days is the heartbeat each household shares. Our cadence begins to slow, breath comes more easily, we fall into line.

Again and again, a group of us is knit together, a rag tag family of people thrown together, a mad jumble of happenstance and tiny little miracles. We all manage to develop new ways of being, together. Somehow, we all manage to begin to bud. With imperceptible slowness, we all inch a little taller each day. Then, when I begin to think it will never happen, the symphony begins. Our new family is finally able to unfurl our petals to the wind, in a riot of colors never seen before, and rise again to meet the sun.