My family and I have happened upon an interesting situation dealing with foster care.
Foster care is not something we ever thought we would do. It just never felt right for us so we never worried about it. We watched friends and even my sister-in-law’s family work through foster care and adopt but it wasn’t until my sister-in-law, while visiting her house in August 2015, jokingly asked us if we’d want to possibly foster her current foster daughter’s (who my sister-in-law ended up adopting) baby sister that was to be born in November.
I remember my husband and I looking at each other and while I know my sister-in-law was just mentioning it, never really thinking we’d actually say yes, when I looked at my husband, we both knew the answer was yes.
We quickly became foster care licensed and by October 2015, we were completely ready to take on this unborn baby if she were to go into foster care. But that wasn’t even an issue for us. We knew deep down inside that she was headed to foster care and when she was born in November 2015, we were ready. We were anxious, scared, and insanely excited, waiting for *Baby L to be put into our home.
However, days, weeks, and months passed and she was never put into foster care. We were quite shocked because we had been so positive that she would be in foster care.
Out of the blue in January 2017, I received a call from my sister-in-law letting me know that Foster Care would be calling me for updated information because baby L was being put into the system. I received the call from Foster Care a couple hours later but had to wait 4 days to hear anything else. On that 4th day, I received that call that baby L was in foster care, would be staying with my sister-in-law since she is baby L’s adopted aunt, and if we were ready to re-license for foster care, baby L could be put into our home immediately after with no opportunity for reunification which meant she was ours! However, the lady at Foster Care reminded me that anything could happen and kinship/a blood relative could come forward in which case, there was nothing we could do.
My husband and I had prayed and thought a lot about it, however, and knew that taking baby L into our home was exactly what we were supposed to do and we still felt 100% positive that she was ours.
Less than 48 hours after re-obtaining our foster care license (which only took us 1 week to get), we went to pick up baby L and brought her home. It was a rough adjustment. She had been through so many changes in her short 14 months of life that she was a mess. She wasn’t sure who she could count on and rely on and she clung to me with everything she had in her. I couldn’t leave her side. She’d cry if I put her down. She would scream if I tried walking away. Going to sleep was miserable. Usually I could get her to fall asleep on my shoulder and gently put her down but if she woke up at all, she would whimper and at times, cry, from fear that I was leaving. Baby L felt safe in my arms and would not stand to let anyone else take her.
She also had some other different habits than I wasn’t used to such as asking every single woman to pick her up. If she got hurt, if she was hungry, if she needed anything, she wanted to be held by any and every female. Baby L screamed a lot out of frustration so we taught her sign. She hated diaper changes and baths. She had no idea how to play by herself. She couldn’t do some normal 14-month old things, mostly fine motor, and she was definitely behind on speech.
Two weeks later, she was a completely different child. She loved my husband and I equally unless she was tired, then she only wanted me. If she got hurt, she’d come to me and not every other person nearby. Diaper changes and baths became more fun and she was finally exploring toys on her own without anyone nearby. Learning sign definitely improved her screaming, or I guess I should say, she stopped screaming, and was finally able to communicate with us almost every single thing she needed. She was much happier.
We’re now five weeks later and I don’t even recognize the Baby L that walked through our door that first day. She is well-adjusted, happy, and learning new things everyday. She loves playing with our kids, loves eating family meals with us, loves reading books and being with us. I hate to admit it, but I’m pretty sure she loves my husband way more than she loves me – she looks at me like she knows I have to do things for her. She looks at my husband and knows that he will play and care for her and love her more than she needs. Baby L squeals out of excitement when my husband comes home from work or gets her up in the morning and she perks up and starts smiling real big when she realizes we’ve arrived at his work for a visit. She has also almost completely stopped going to random women, asking to be picked up. She knows where her home base is and it’s not with every stranger, just with us.
This is exactly how I had imagined the rest of our lives with her. Happy, well-adjusted, and content.
Except, that’s not how it’s going to end up at all. The day we received our Foster Care License, we found out that blood relatives had come forward and were excited to adopt baby L. It was so devastating. I spent the entire day in my room sobbing and unable to move. Here we were, positive that she was ours, and someone was able to swoop in and take her from right under us. We had lost her again (the first time being and feeling like when she was not put into Foster Care originally). We have incredible friends and family rallying around us to support us. They pray for us, think of us, and send us texts to remind us that we’re not alone and that their hearts are broken for us. We are losing our child and it is really hard to deal with.
I know that while all of this is going on with us, the same is going on for the other couple, except instead of pain and sadness, theirs is joy and excitement. It’s hard for me to imagine. I am sure this couple are good people who will treat her well but after 17 months of feeling and knowing deep down that Baby L would be ours, it’s hard to be so willing to give her up to another family.
She calls me Mama and my husband, Dada. She cuddles into us close when she needs her cuddles and shows us her owies and expects kisses from us to make them all better. I feel awful that I know she is headed towards another change, one that won’t include us ever again, and I can’t stop it. I am helpless and feel like a horrible mother for knowing she’s going to go through more pain and I can’t make all of the pain go away.
If there’s one thing we’ve been able to see clearly these past few weeks, it’s that she does not handle change well. I am by her side all day, everyday. We never leave each other. But if one thing changes out of the ordinary of our schedule, it completely throws her off. She ends up sad, in tears, and not her normal self for anywhere from 30 minutes to hours after the change has occurred. She will cling to me for safety and need cuddles to verify that she is all right. She may walk off and play but I know she’ll be right back to be picked up or to hang onto my leg until she feels safe again.
New family, please take good care of my baby girl. She is one of a kind. I could not ask for a better, happier daughter. She absolutely loves life. She loves food, animals, dancing, singing, books, exploring, and playing with kids. She is insanely flexible so I hope she gets to experience dance and/or gymnastics. She loves balls and has a pretty good arm so I hope she gets to try her hand at sports. She loves music so I hope she gets to sing and dance all the time with some music lessons because she loves playing the piano. She loves water and the pool so I hope she will get the chance to take swim lessons and play at a pool often. She also really loves expensive food so make sure you save up some extra money each time you take her out because sushi and nice meats are at the top of her love list. Please give my baby girl the best the world has to offer because she deserves it. If I can’t do all these things, I truly hope you will.
*Name/initial changed for protection of child.