Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ready, Set, Go...

The phone call finally came. Could we take 2 little girls, ages 3 and 10 weeks? YES! We received the call around 4:30 in the afternoon. We were excited. We were unprepared! Since our kids were teenagers we had long since parted with all the baby paraphernalia. We chose not to go ahead and purchase all kinds of baby stuff when we decided to foster because we had no idea what age children we would get. That's where social media came to the rescue.

We can't post personal information about our foster children. We can't use their names or post pictures of their faces, BUT we did post they were coming and asked if anyone had anything we could use/borrow to get us started. Wow! What a response. I spent the next hour or so making a round trip around our town. I picked up an infant car seat from one house, a toddler car seat from another, a pack and play from a third, and toys and some clothes from a fourth. Another friend dropped off a baby bathtub and a diaper bag. Now we felt ready.

We had a little history and their names. We prepared for the reaction from a 3 year old being dropped off with complete strangers. They arrived at around 10:00 pm. The 3 year old was sleeping and the 10 week old was SCREAMING. She apparently had screamed the whole ride here. We brought her in, I took her out of the car seat and she quieted.

The 3 year was laid on the couch and my teens sat on the floor near her with some toys. She started to awaken but kept her back to us. She would shyly turn around and accept a toy and quickly face the back of the couch. There was no screaming, no tears. She fairly quickly warmed up to us.

We filled out the necessary paperwork and then we were all alone. In a matter of minutes, a family of 6. Trial and error becomes the new normal. We knew nothing of their likes, their schedules. They came with the clothes on their backs and a few things the foster care worker brought with her. Thank goodness for clothing allowances.

Bedtime was around midnight. It went better than expected. Our new 3 year old acted like she was on vacation. It was almost odd that she wasn't scared. She woke up with a smile. The first tears we saw were the next morning when she had to go with a transporter for a doctor's appointment. How I hate that part of it. Sending these kids off with strangers. You would never do that with your biological children.

I took the first day off, and my husband took the 2nd day to take them to court. There is always a court date within the first 72 hours. He met the parents. It was a slightly volatile situation. I can't blame them. They were upset to lose their children. Seeing your 2 little girls with some strange man can't be easy. Though they seemed upset, nothing happened. The father just asked my husband to please take care of the babies. He promised we would.

Though we had been through training, the real learning happens as you go along. Court dates are plentiful, all for different reasons. Many get continued, which basically means rescheduled for another date. There are weekly visitations, appointments, assessments, visits from case workers, and a whole new vocabulary to get used to. Adjudication, stipulated, deprived, and TPR are just a few.

We were told a family member would be getting approved to take them, and that process takes 30-45 days. We mentally prepared to have them for 30-45 days. That didn't happen. That often doesn't happen. Many times we mentally prepared for them to go home. Each court date I waited for the email to tell me what the verdict was. Since we don't live close to where they were from, my plan was always that I could get to the daycare before a case worker. That assured us that we would at least get to say goodbye. It doesn't always work like that. I was determined it would work like that for us.

Our first placement. 2 little girls who captured our hearts from the very beginning. I would love to share their pictures. They were a complete blessing to our family. We will never be the same. We learned how to love in a whole new way. It wasn't always easy. Some days it was just plain awful, but worth it. Worth the uncertainty, worth the behavior issues, worth the time, and miles put on our car each week. They were worth the heartbreak when it was time to say goodbye..

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