The first foster child to enter our home was a two-week old baby girl.

Our boys are currently 20, 18 and 15, so having a newborn back in the house took some pretty serious adjustment. I’d forgotten the feel of the sleep deprivation fog that can set in with 3-hour feedings! But the adjustment was quick and the very real question of “Could we love someone elses baby as much as we love our own?” was answered just as fast.

In addition to the “sleep-fog”, I’d forgotten how much peace a newborn brings. How simple and rewarding it is to be involved in helping meet someone’s basic needs.

But as Tara and I will say now, you don’t know the full spectrum of foster care till you have to give one back. We’d had this precious baby girl for about 2 months when we received word that the birth mother, who we’d met many times in visitations, had completed all her required services and would be reunited with her baby. Granted, this is the goal of foster care, giving the bio-parents an opportunity to get themselves and their lives together and be restored to their children. And as with many things in life, we learned that foster care has a honeymoon period, and, ours was about to be over.

I woke up early to feed her the day she was leaving. When I opened the refrigerator I saw the 3 bottles Tara had prepared for that day and knew that they would be the final opportunities to sit and bask in the peace and joy this little one brought to our home. That is a sad part about foster care. But not nearly as sad as the thought of that beautiful baby girl not receiving the love that we were able to give her during those first crucial months of life. And guess what?  After a few late nights of tears we got a call from the agency that another child needed us.

At that moment, after experiencing one of our worst fears about foster care (giving a child back), we felt qualified to give the agency an educated answer – and we said “yes”. Not because we’re “good people”, though we try to be, not because “it’s the right, Christian, thing to do”, though I believe it is, but because that first little girl had given us more than we gave in return.

I won’t forget the final bottle we fed to the first foster child in our home. It signifies the beautiful, bitter-sweet thing that we call foster care and reminds me how blessed I am to be involved.

Kyle Hutton is an adoptee, foster parent, founder of The Real Life Real Music Foundation and contributing songwriter for the “A Place to Stay – Tour for Foster Awareness”.