Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark – Tagor
I look down and meet her eyes. They dominate her petite face, deeply brown, and heavy. Overburdened with a penetrating sadness. Tears move slowly down her cheeks as if they also are held back, restrained by her intense grief. A social worker attempts to console the small, little girl who appears to be about 8 years old. A foster parent reaches out, too. The child is silent.
In the midst of the noisy, dynamic celebration of the nearly four hundred children, foster parents, staff and volunteers who are enjoying NCCF’s annual holiday party for children and youth placed in foster care, her eyes follow mine. She peers out from around the adults who surround her. She appears to have no interest in the food, gifts, games, or the youth performances. Unlike the others, she is not inspired by the fun and excitement. She looks up again out of the crowd, at me.
The social worker takes me aside, and tells me that her mother did not visit the day before, as she promised.
I now understand. The little girl is looking for a way back home to her mother. Her fragile, bird-like presence belies her extraordinary resilience and hopefulness. Her apparent unhappiness is her signal to me that she needs someone to get her back home for Christmas. That is the only gift she truly wants. She powerfully communicates this desire absent all words.
I approach her. I touch her shoulder gently. She is still silent. Now closer, I can see a small glimmer of hope in her eyes as she looks up. Perhaps, her mother desperately needs additional support, and another chance to parent her daughter. Perhaps, the little girl realizes her dream come true, and returns back home by Christmas. Perhaps, we focus on reunifying the mother and child under much better circumstances, bringing joyous light to a very little girl who is holding on as she moves courageously through this dark place in her very young life.