One of the hardest things about foster parenting is taking a child who thinks that he is yours to a visit with a birth parent he doesn’t know at all.
All morning I am tense. My hands tremble slightly, and I keep forgetting what I am doing. I don’t even attempt to eat breakfast. The kids joke and I attempt a smile, which gets nowhere near my eyes, not having heard a word. I snap at them over nothing, and they pat my shoulder to show me that it’s okay. I pack a diaper bag overflowing with snacks, toys, and extra clothes. Finally, I get the baby dressed in a cute outfit, making sure everything matches and nothing is worn out or stained. A friend once had birth family file a complaint because the child was wearing two slightly different white socks. The story has stayed with me.
I arrive a few minutes early and hold the baby in the car until the last moment. Then, kissing his fluffy baby hair, I gather his bag and hurry across the parking lot to the DHS building. Inside he sees his parent and leans nervously into me. I talk to him happily, soothing. I whisper one last prayer that only he and I can hear. The caseworker arrives, ready to take them back to the visitation …