Answering the Call (Baby Jennifer, part 1)

“We had another baby to place the day after Megan,” The licensing worker tells me over the phone, “But we thought we’d give you a few days to settle in before giving you another baby.”

“My boys keep complaining that we don’t have enough babies to go around,” I tell her, laughing, “They think we need three more so that they can each have one to hold all the time.”

Less than a week later the phone rings again.

“It’s DHS! It’s DHS!” Joey calls excitedly, handing me the phone, “Say, ‘yes,’ Mom! Say, ‘yes!’” He’s literally jumping up and down, a standard response from him.  DHS could call and ask us to take five ax murders and my boys would enthusiastically beg me to say yes.  I shush him and go hide in the laundry room to take the call.

“We have a 4 month old baby girl who may need a new placement,” The worker tells me, “I know you already have Megan, but was wondering if your boys really wanted another baby to hold?”

I tell her I’ll talk to Matt and call her back.  I call Matt.  We talk and pray together.  I pray alone.  I pray for hours as I go about my day.  I call Matt again.  We talk some more.  Finally, I call her back.

“If you really need us to take her we will, but if you have another good option…”

In the end they leave this baby in her current placement, leaving me to wonder.  If a placement is so bad that the caseworkers think they might need to move a baby, goes so far as to arrange another home, it seems to me they should probably go ahead and move the baby.  At the same time, I’m a little relieved.

I am in the attic, arranging boxes and sucking hornets into the vacuum hose, later that afternoon when DHS calls again.  A different licensing worker relates the sad details surrounding a tiny baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital.  She needs a good foster family and some visitors right away.  She’s already spent nearly two weeks all alone.

Thanks to the phone call earlier that day, I know where we stand, and my answer is the same.  “If you really need us…” (There are plenty of foster homes, but a shortage of good ones.)

As I finish the call, I’m giddy, almost shaking, as I wonder if I’ve just slipped beyond the edge of sanity.  My sister Amy, who is holding baby Megan is literally jumping up and down as I tell her about this new baby.  I call and ask my husband Matt, who tends to think I can handle just about anything.  He gives a slightly reluctant blessing on the whole thing.  I arrange some baby-sitting and the next thing you know I’m on my way to the NICU.

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