We got the call we’d been expecting late on the evening of December 15th. Our license had been finalized, and there was a waiting child in need of a home. It just so happened that we were wrapping up a Bible study with a group of friends, so everyone laid hands on us and prayed and then I headed out to meet the little boy that would change our lives.
For weeks I had vacillated between excitement and terror at the prospect of another child in our home, and then finally settled into denial that it would ever actually happen, but now, the moment was upon us.
I arrived at the pick up location around 10pm. I stood in the waiting area for a while listening to my heart beating out of my chest. For a moment I began to have tunnel vision and thought I may pass out, so I found a chair and tried to remind myself to breathe. Time drew out and minutes felt long. After what seemed like ages, I was finally taken into an office where a social worker reviewed the case file with me and I signed the needed forms.
Then they brought out the Sandman.
He was three months old with eyes so deep and dark they sparkled like two shiny black marbles.
His hair was soft like spun wool and he had skin like smooth milk chocolate. I sat in the office and fed him, not wanting him to get hungry on the ride home. Then I strapped him into his car seat and the social worker helped me carry him out to the minivan.
The next morning, I was able to review his file more thoroughly and take stock of the items they had given me. About 3/4 can of formula, 1 bottle, 4 outfits which seemed new but 3 of them were either too big or too small for him, a handful of baby wipes and about 7 diapers. Clearly, a trip to the store was in order. That would be ambitious enough for day one.
I was told that there was a relative who was interested in caring for him while his mother worked on her case plan, and to expect that he would be moved in a day or two. Christmas was just around the corner, so I thought that they would be very motivated to have him back with family for the holidays. Over the next 48 hours, I fielded so many phone calls from social workers that I lost count. I asked each one about the Sandman’s relative who was going to take care of him, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about.
By day three I was exhausted from the midnight feedings and caring for the needs of four needy children. It was just like having post-partum baby blues.
“What was I thinking?!?!” I wondered to myself. “This is definitely NOT my gift!”
My inner-monologue continued as I efforted to talk myself back from the cliff. “You are already committed to this child. Just ride it out for THIS child and see how you feel then. You can always say no to the next placement.” And then, “Just give yourself time to adjust. Just give it a year. He’s probably going to his relative in a few days anyway.” You get the idea.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I wanted to pull the eject handle so quickly after pursuing foster care with conviction for months, but I share this part of our story because I think it’s important. I had imagined that I would spend my days as a foster mom filled with a sense of profound purpose, and I do, but that doesn’t mean it’s always fun or easy. Being called to something doesn’t mean you will love every minute of it. Most things worth doing are hard.
So, I just kept my nose to the grindstone and kept doing what needed doing, and you know what? My emotions caught up. Today, three weeks in, I truly believe that fostering is the absolute best thing I’ve ever done! I’m so glad I didn’t give in to those first days of panic.
Christmas has come and gone, and the Sandman is still with us. And so far, there is no word from the mysterious relative that was supposed to take over nearly three weeks ago. The social workers don’t even know the relative’s name, so for the time being, it looks like the Sandman will be staying with us. Of course, all of that can change on a dime, and I’ll admit that at this point, I would be sad to see the Sandman go.