Contents tagged with family
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Today I went from being the mother of seven to being the mother of six. I’ve been here before; it doesn’t feel any better this time, doesn’t seem to get easier. Maybe there are foster parents out there who get used to this. How could they keep doing it otherwise? But, that doesn’t seem to be me.
A month ago we had the first overnight. Baby with his birth mom. Me at home rocking in an empty chair beside an empty crib, clenching my arms to my belly as if to keep myself from coming apart. Then two nights. Then three, four, and now --gone. A baby inexorably pulled from the only family he has ever known.. A baby we brought home from the hospital at just two days old nearly a year ago and told we would adopt.
I was out with the four youngest at a store recently and people stopped me repeatedly to remark on how full my hands were. Yes blessedly full, blissfully full, but for just a little longer. Next time those people will see me with only the three and make the same remark, not realizing just how empty these hands truly feel.
We’ve never done it this way before. Our first two foster babies were here one day and gone the next. There was no gradual transfer. It was horrible, but the …
Betty: So fill me in on all these kids I see around here.
Me: Well, the one in the mismatched shoes is mine; so is the one trying to write on the wall. The kid on the table is mine, and I left a few at home. Those four are my sister Jane’s. This one belongs to my sister Terry.
Betty: Okay, now which one of these is Jane’s real kid?”
I knew immediately what she meant; Jane adopted three of her children and had one by birth, but I didn't like Betty's phrasing.
Me: Real kid? They all look pretty real to me. Jane hasn’t played with dolls in years.
We both laugh like what I said was quite witty. I look pleadingly at Terry to rescue me, but she is redirecting the wall draw-er.
Betty: What I mean is that she had one of them the normal way…
Me: There are lots of normal ways to have a child.
Betty: But, which one is hers?
Me: All of them.
She must have decided at this point that I was really dense because she finally spit out what we both knew she was getting at all along.
Betty: Which one is her birth child?
I would have just told her, because it’s no secret who is adopted and who was born into the family; it’s a nonissue, but I was a little irritated by the long lead in.
When he looks at me he doesn’t see pale freckled skin; he sees his mama. When I look at him I don’t see caramel brown skin; I see my son.
Well-meaning people (of different races) have commented that it might be best if we did not adopt our foster son because he is half African American. They tell me that it would be better for him to be “raised with his own kind.”
They advise me on how to raise a black child:
“Don’t dress him in overalls.”
“Don’t feed him watermelon or corn on the cob.”
“Don’t call him ‘bubba.’”
“You’re not styling his hair right.”
And they warn me:
“He won’t know his culture.”
“He’ll talk like a white person.”
“He won’t be prepared for racism when he encounters it.”
“He won’t fit into either white society or black society.”
You know what? They could be right. We are German-Irish and look it. He is all-American: black, white and native. Being a different race from everyone else in his family may be hard for this little guy.
But, you know what would be harder for him? Being ripped away from the family that loves him.
We are the only family J. remembers. He has lived with us for over a year and a half. He looks at me and he sees his mama. He looks …
As we left the hospital with Baby J. the nurse told us to bring everything on the counter; they would just throw it out if we didn’t. So, I upended the pink plastic medical bin into a bag and didn’t look in the bag again until we got home.
My husband Matt was holding the baby, my sister Jenny making dinner, the kids circling me with interest to see what treasures I had brought from the hospital. (You know, besides a baby). I pulled out five tubes of antibiotic ointment, about twenty syringes, blue gloves, adhesive tape and then a long cylinder of some sort with one tapered end and a twist on lid on the other. A flashlight? I twisted the end, but no light came on, instead it started to shake. I looked at my sister confused. She began to laugh.
“Is this what I think it is?” I asked.
“Um, yup, I think so,” she laughed, “When Ella was in the hospital they rubbed one on her back to help loosen the gunk in her lungs.”
“Huh. Yeah, J. did have breathing trouble there for a while.”
“Hey, what’s that thing?” one of the kids asks, “A toothbrush?”
Another comes over and looks at it with interest.
“Ooh, it’s a back massager!” He takes it, turns it on and trots over …
Between October and March we received around fifteen calls from various members of the Washtenaw County Department of Human Services with children they would like to place in our home. With each call, it was difficult to decline, but it was also right. They weren’t a fit for us, or we weren’t a fit for them. We wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor by saying yes when it was clear that we should be saying no. But, it was hard, because the question always lurked, If not us, then who?
Then, at the end of February Joey started praying that God would bring us a foster baby we could keep within a week. Twenty minutes short of a week later we got the call for Megan. I knew that it was right. Matt was still home. I didn’t even have to call him. We said yes, then called our pray-ers to get them praying for this little baby.
Late that afternoon I dropped my kids at my sisters and headed to the hospital. I prayed all the way there, through the parking garage, and down the hallway, the presence of the Spirit was nearly tangible. After having my ID checked twice and two security guards and a Child protective Services Worker escort me up the elevator, my ID was checked yet again. Then, …
As I settle in for dinner and cozy family time on this chilly December evening, my heart and thoughts go to three little boys on the other side of town, boys with no home tonight, no one to love them, or hug them, or hold them, boys who I denied a place in my home earlier this afternoon. We finally got our foster care license in the mail two weeks ago. Our first call for a possible placement came today. Three little boys. Brothers whose home life was so bad that they were being fast tracked for adoption, boys who had witnessed too much pain and violence in their short lives and knew little else. They could be ours, ours to help, ours to love, part of our family. We could help them and hold them, teach them that Daddies can be gentle and Mommies can be kind. But, we have our five children to consider, gifts from God placed under our protection, children we need to safeguard. With two little girls, only one and four years old, how could we bring these children into our home? Children who knew violence and are likely to act out what they’ve been taught? I didn’t consider it long before saying no. The oldest two boys were big enough to be threats to my daughters. It wasn’t …