If any of you follow my husband’s blog, you know we have been in training to become foster parents. Well today, finally, after long months of preparation, we received our first child! I am over the moon I am so happy. He’s a healthy, active one-year-old boy. I absolutely could not be happier.
I have been wanting to be a mother for the past 14 years. I wanted it, I planned for it, I expected it. And it never happened. Not biologically. Not via adoption. Not even through foster care, although I have been certified before – there was a snafu in where my paperwork was sent and although I did babysitting for other foster parents, I never was placed with a child who was MY foster child. But today I am a mother, even though it has the societally-created word “foster” in front of it.
There is a cloud above Cloud Nine – I know, because I’m on it!
But as happy as I am, I acknowledge that my happiest day is this child’s worst. He was removed from his family – the people he knew and trusted. (Whether they deserved his trust or not.) He doesn’t have the food he’s accustomed to. He doesn’t have his lovey. I don’t know if he takes a pacifier, or what kind of bottle he’s used to. I don’t know his bath routine. I don’t know what he’s accustomed to at bedtime to help him relax and sleep.
Can you imagine leaving your one year old child with a babysitter, and not telling her these things? Leaving her to figure out the questions of bed time, what to feed and when, and even what lovey he neeeeeds to have before he’ll go to sleep? I can’t either.
But that is the life of children in foster care. Most of their parents aren’t together enough to communicate that sort of thing to the police and caseworkers who remove the child from the home. If the child is lucky, the workers have enough time to grab things that look like the child’s and put them in a bag or pillowcase to bring with the child – but sometimes the situation at the time precludes that from happening.
The child is scared. Confused. Lonely for his loved ones. Missing his lovey. Missing the sounds and smells of his home.
I made our new foster son a bottle earlier. He cried and reached for it when he saw it, so I knew I’d done something right. He tried to feed himself, but I took it out of his hands and insisted on doing the feeding with him in my lap. As I looked down at him, I remembered how hard I’d fought to have this precious boy in my lap, and my eyes teared up. He lay there drinking his bottle and stubbornly refusing to look at me, and I suddenly realized and remembered all that I wrote on here and more. I started to rock him and sing to him, willing him to relax and look at me, to start the process of learning that he was safe here and would be cared for, even if I stumbled a lot while doing so. Praying that he could leave the damage that had been done to him in the past, and move forward, and open his heart to new people, regardless of what may happen with his parent’s court case.
After half an hour, he finally looked at me, and I smiled at him through my tears. He kept the eye contact for the rest of his bottle while I rocked and sang to him. His recovery will take a while, and will take specific interventions, but I’d say his willingness to do that means that in spite of this being his worst day ever, he is off to a fine start.