Through the eyes of an innocent child it is very easy to see that all anyone ever really needs is LOVE. It may sound “cliché” but since becoming a foster parent nineteen months ago I have learned that it is absolutely true! My husband, our four teenage children, and I welcomed a beautiful three month old baby boy into our home on a hot August afternoon. We had recently completed the foster parent training, background checks and home study with Children’s Friend. Our license to foster a child was approved on a Monday and by Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 we had our first foster child!
I remember calling by husband at work and saying “Can you get home, now?! A baby boy is coming!” My husband pulled into our driveway just minutes before the state car that was delivering our foster son. I surprised myself when I went out to the DCYF worker’s car and took the infant carrier from her and carried him into our home myself. We all “fell in love” instantly. None of us could believe how big he was; he weighed 16 pounds and had a full head of soft dark brown curls. While we were waiting for him to arrive I described what a typical three month old would likely look like to my daughters...he was not typical! Our social worker from Children’s Friend was also at our home at this time. After completing the necessary paperwork, we were soon left alone with our new addition.
My family and I were all very excited, but also a little shocked. Although we had been talking and thinking about fostering for years we couldn’t believe it was actually happening! Would I really remember how to care for an infant? What does he need? When will he eat, sleep, etc...? How will our kids really feel about having a baby in the house? Will he wake everyone up in the middle of the night? Can my husband and I pull this off? The first couple of days were filled with lots of questions. Amazingly enough we quickly fell into a routine and it seemed like he had been with us all along. It felt right, easy, and natural.
We were given some information about his birth family. We knew that his mother was “very young”, had extremely limited resources, and that he had been placed briefly with a relative before coming to us. His mother’s home and the home of her relative had both been deemed unsafe. Supervised visits with his mother were set up on a bi-weekly basis at the DCYF office. I struggled to write a note to his mother for the first visit but believed it was important to do. It was short, but I let her know that he seemed well and comfortable and filled her in on his latest eating and sleeping schedules. I hoped I was opening a door to future communication between mom and foster mom.
Over the past year and a half there have been ups and downs. I have developed a relationship with his mother through the visits. It can be gut wrenching to drop a child off for a visit with his own mother when you have to walk away as he is screaming for you. It is exasperating when you don’t know what is happening with the case or with his mother. Yet I can truthfully say that the love and energy that this baby boy has brought into our home far outweighs any of the difficulties. Our children have grown and learned so much and have a greater appreciation for their own lives and circumstances. We have all become more compassionate and more courageous. We have learned how to advocate for someone we care deeply for.
No one knows how this journey will end. DCYF has filed with the court to terminate his parents’ parental rights. We have been asked if we are willing to adopt him & we have said yes. We did not go into fostering thinking we would ever adopt. If he cannot return to his biological family we cannot imagine him going anywhere else. As we wait for the court process to conclude, we must be mindful that this could still go either way. Eventually the courts will make a decision. It can be painful and uncertain. We remember how vulnerable he seemed when he first arrived. We take comfort as we now watch the well adjusted, well loved, playful toddler he has become. When I am asked why we foster, my simple response is because I know it is worth it! I am reminded everyday with every sticky hug, kiss and “uv you” (I love you) I receive!
This little boy is now nearing his second birthday and has become a true blessing to our immediate and extended families as well as to our friends. He is a part of our family. He is filled with happiness and curiosity and has filled our home with his contagious joy. The time seems to have gone by so quickly since he arrived and we quiver at the thought of him ever leaving us. But we know that we are giving him a stable, comfortable, loving home for however long he stays. And he is giving us his love and so much more. We are changed because of him and we know that he is changed because of us.