In real estate we have a process we go through when a property receives multiple offers from different buyer at the same time that we call Highest and Best. When a property has multiple buyers who place offers at the same time, the seller’s agent usually notifies each buyers’ agent that there have been multiple offers received. Each of the buyers then has the opportunity to submit their highest and best offer, in hopes of being the highest, and thus able to buy the property.
When our kids come to us through foster care, we try to meet the needs of the child that have been identified or suspected. Sometimes we get it pretty right. Sometimes, however, the child has unknown needs that are much greater than we first thought. All of the sudden, the child needs our Highest and Best efforts put on the table. And so we dig deep, we find the reserve of patience, we summon some extra love, we thicken our skin a little more, and we push forward. And often times, that works.
But here’s the thing: sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes our Highest and Best simply isn’t enough. Sometimes the needs that the child has exceeds what we’re capable of meeting. Sometimes our best still falls short. Sometimes the most we can pay is less than what’s needed to buy the house.
It’s always a little disappointing and discouraging for my buyer when they don’t get the house they were hoping for. But even in the midst of the emotions, they quickly settle on this solace: “Well, at least we know that we offered the max that we could do. If that wasn’t enough, there’s nothing more we could have done. It just wasn’t meant to be.” We recently had one of these times in our fostering journey. We took placement of a little guy who, initially, seemed a pretty simple, compliant child. Time, however, began to reveal some significant, deep-rooted attachment concerns. So we dug deep to find the well of patience and empathy and love. But at the end of the day, it just wasn’t enough. Our family is too big to offer him the amount of one-on-one time that he needed to develop a healthy, secure attachment. He couldn’t heal while being a part of our family. He was moved to a home last week who is able to give him the time and attention that he needs- who can walk his road of healing with him. They’re trained in the same parenting techniques that we use to facilitate healing in our kids from hard places. He’s going to be just fine.
As if to remind us one last time of his attachment struggles, he dashed out to the case worker’s van, threw his bag in and buckled himself into the waiting booster seat. No hugs, no “goodbye” to the ones he called “mom” and “dad” for nearly three months- just excitement to move onto the next home and the next adventure.
In the midst of the disappointment and discouragement, we found this solace: at least we offered the max that we could do- there’s nothing more we could have done. Fostering, as with life and real estate, often calls for our Highest and Best. Sometimes that’s enough to get us through. But when it’s not, let us find solace in the knowledge that we gave our max, loved our deepest, and poured out all that we could. It just wasn’t meant to be.