Jan 21, 2014

first foray into foster care

I've blogged through our first brief foster care experience (without posting) and it's coming to a close tomorrow.  I cleaned up some of my most awful moments, but I've left it pretty real.  I've always wanted this blog to advocate for adoption and now for foster care.  So here's the real deal (it's not short!)  Here's what our first foray into foster care was like...

foster care--thoughts right after I said yes
 I have a new daughter. 

For how long?  I don't know.
What's she like?  I don't know.
How old is she?  A month or so.
What's her name?  I don't know.

The last one is what got me.  The very helpful worker on the phone kept referring to her as "it".  Talking about how long it's been in care and when and where to drop it off...

She.  I kept thinking. 

She's a person, a new little person, with nobody.

I kept thinking of reasons why it wouldn't work.  This age range might be easier for me and that age range would be more fun for Lucy... And then I just thought, this isn't baby shopping.  This isn't even adoption, where you get a say in several things.  This is a child who needs a place to stay.  I thought, surely there's a better place more suited to care for her... and then the worker called again with a smidgeon more information and an air of unspoken desperation.  She didn't have a place, and he'd been calling all morning (he didn't pressure me, I just knew from his call hours earlier that he was going to keep calling anyone on the list).  I may not be perfect, and I may not even be very strong and tough yet, but I can feed her and keep her safe and snuggle and pray over her.  I can do these things, and it's enough.

I have a new daughter.  For now. 

I'll let you know her name just as soon as I find out :)

foster care--day 4
So. Many. Tears.

Not sappy, emotional tears about how sweet this little life is and how blessed I am to be a positive part of her life.

Nope.  Selfish, mad, sleepy tears. 

I'm sleep deprived.  Like any mother of a 4 week old.  But I'm not on maternity leave and I don't have a husband, so Lucy and I are toughing it out. And I'm kind of wondering why in heaven's name I thought this was a good idea.

I have cried on friends who ask how it's going.  I've cried into my pillow when Baby wouldn't stop crying at 10.  (Yes, 10.  My plan last night was to have everyone asleep by 7:30, including me, so that I could sleep and Baby wasn't down with that.)

I'm long past that hopeful, idealic, love-is-all-you-need, three cheers for Jesus post.  I'm in raw survival mode.  I calculate that it took 10 hours last night to get about 5.5 hours of sleep, so the other 4.5 were a desperate, hunger-games like battle to get Baby fed and burped and changed and settled.  I was not a nice person in my head for those 4.5 hours.  I was resentful.  I was cranky.  I was begging, pleading for her to suck that milk down a little faster so I could go back to sleep.

I've gone through stages:

Unfocused:  When we first got home and there were two little ones to get  in bed, things to bring in, and food to put away, and I wondered around partially doing all of these tasks and getting nothing done until Angel finally took over.
Euphoria:  When that tiny bundle just ate and slept and it was all so adorable.
Contact-buzz:  I keep the euphoria through the weekend because my friends were euphoric and I just fed off of their high.
Fear:  What have I gotten myself into?
Denial:  What baby crying?  I don't hear a baby crying?
Anger:  Why, baby?  Why won't you sleep?
Despair:  I'll never sleep again.  It will be literally months before I get a full night's sleep.
Exhibitionist (I had an audience of 2 for my shower this morning.  The crowd is growing!)

I'm not sure what current stage I'm in.  I vacillate between these tried and true ones.

Then I think:  4 days.  It has only. been. 4. days.

Pray for us, dear friends.  Whew.

foster care--pics

I can't show her sweet face, so I took these to show my helper-girl/big-sister.   She did such a great job.  (The last pic is her baby in a sweat-pant "sling".)

foster care--wrap up
Baby will leave to live with a relative tomorrow.

It's been a long and crazy two weeks.  And it's unbelievable that it's been only 2 weeks.

Pray for her and for this relative who is stepping up to take care of her.

There are lots of emotions around here:
--We're sad that she's leaving.
--I'm relieved that a full night's sleep is in the near future
--I'm wishing that I'd used the very short time with her better (i.e., not complained and cried so much...)
--I'm anxious about her future.   Will they be kind to her? 
--I'm angry/sad that such a sweet, tiny baby has so many cards stacked against her from the start.
--I'm angry/sad that she's the 3rd child in 3 years (who have all been removed from the original home).
--I'm angry/sad that her birth mother grew up in the foster care system and group homes, and now is obviously struggling to make a safe home (probably because she didn't get to experience one herself).
--I'm thankful that Lucy was so sweet and loving to Baby.
--I'm thankful that there is a system in place here, flawed as it may be, so that kids aren't on the streets.  (I've seen this several places.  It's indescribably awful).
--I'm thankful for all the support and love we got.  The first full day we had 11 visitors, little outfits, prayers, cake, fruit, pizza...  Our sitter was sick and my aunt and my sister-in-law took care of Baby for us (and my aunt even cleaned!).   It was really difficult, as a single working mom, even with all this support.  Kind of an eye-opener--what about all the people out there with crying babies and low-paying jobs and undependable childcare and no supportsWhich circles us right back around to:  Foster care is messy and hard, but it's a fix that is necessary to try to keep fragmented families (who probably have no supports) together.

God, we pray for Baby Z.  Give her family gobs of love for her and patience during those midnight feedings.  Help her to know she's special and loved, by you most of all.  Protect her from evil and make yourself known to her, through the kindness of believers around her.  Thank you for making such a precious little one. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely totally real and beautiful -- and yes, totally eye opening for all those like you mentioned: single, alone and fighting these battles daily without support -- affects more moms and children than we could possibly imagine. God bless you for all you have done for this precious little one placed in your loving care for those few weeks!