We have a baby. A beautiful, happy, very bouncy little 8 month old girl came to live with us on the last day of May and we could not be happier with our newest addition to our ever changing family. The first couple of days were the definition of rough. We were hosting some summer time visitors so we tried to put Miss Madison in our room in a pop up crib that is nothing more than a tent for babies. That didn’t go over so well so after two sleepless nights we put her in her crib in her room, occupied at the time by guest #1, and our vacationing guests dealt with it quite well. Everyone got a full night’s sleep and mommy, daddy and baby were all very happy. I’ve been gearing up, we have car seats, exersaucers, pack and plays, high chair, smaller diapers and more clothes than this child will be able to wear before she out grows them. And bottles and all the gear that goes with that. I thought a bottle was just a bottle – wrong, wrong, wrong. We have settled on Tommy Tippee and have two different sized nipples and the cleaning brush and bottle sterilizer. Really, I had no idea bottles were big business. And formula. Seriously. I think her formula is as expensive as our Hello Fresh meal delivery service and we get meat and sides for two people. Crazy. But it is all worth it. She is a very happy baby who just laughs and smiles most of the time, loves all her new toys (thanks Mom and Dad!!) and play things and is getting introduced to our amazingly supportive side of our family. It has been a good transition.
Leading up to this placement, I had been feeling really isolated and lonely. My work situation is ideal for our focus on fostering since they let me come and go as appointments and court dates demand but the people I work with aren’t quite sure what to do with me or how to take me so I get isolated and left out most of the time. I know I am an acquired taste. This move has shown me that most of my friends have been work pals and I really miss that – someone to dish the dirt with over some yummy Thai. Other than just wine and complain to my amazingly husband, I have been praying for friends. People I could hang with here in our new city. On a lark, we decided to attend a social our apartment community was hosting for Cinco de Mayo; we never attend these things. We just happened to sit at a table with a couple who low and behold we have a lot in common with. They are potential – soon to be – foster/adopt people. We had lots to talk about. From that initial conversation over chips and salsa, we now have a local support system. Alyson is Miss Madison’s babysitter and great at giving me tips and tricks for a new mom to an infant as well and loving and caring for this sweet baby while I’m crunching numbers. I’m telling you all, God is all in this fostering thing. Mountains have been moved over and over again. So amazing. Tim and I talked about how this is what our pastor would call a WOW moment for sure.
In addition to being first time parents to a little one this little, we found out that Miss Madison’s care plan is concurrent with reunification and adoption. What that means in the lingo of child welfare is that the clock is ticking on this sweet baby’s parents. She has been in care since January having moved from another foster home to us in May. Her parents have a shrinking window in which to get their acts together and step up to care for this beautiful child. Bottom line, this one maybe a permanent placement and we could be her forever home. WOW! I have always had an affinity with Sarah, of Sarah and Abraham, but never expected I would be momma to an infant for more than just a temporary basis. Talk about redeeming the deep wounds of infertility. We are preparing to be the oldest parents on the side lines of the soccer pitch and to be mistaken as grandparents in the car pool line. I said when we signed up to foster that we were open to adoption if the child and timing were right. I assumed that would be a teenager needing a forever home before they aged out. My plans are clearly not always God’s plans and his plans always amazing me beyond anything I could ever hope or even pray for.
So the title of this blog… praying for the parents. I have always prayed for the parents of the kids we care for. I see my role as that of a servant to their family. They most likely don’t see me that way but that has been my approach. Love their kids, care for them, instruct them and pray for the parents and encourage them as much as I can in the limited interactions I have with them. But now with this case, this baby, I find that hard to do. And I acknowledge that this comes from a selfish place in my heart. If I pray for them and they get their lives worked out, we lose the first child we have loved that has a greater than 50/50% chance to be ours. What I know of their story is not good and normally my heart would be all about praying for their restoration and healing. And I know that it should be that now. But…this is hard. Praying for them feels like praying against us and the life we could give this beautiful baby. I know I’ll get there but right now, I’m still living in the selfish land.
What will help me get there is this. As I was driving over the Wilmington River Bridge on my way to SSU shortly after Miss Madison came to our home, before we knew how precarious her parent’s position with the case plan was and adoption was just a big old maybe, I was struck with the absolute joy and love I have for this child. And even if what works out is that she goes home to her mommy and/or daddy, this pure joy and love is worth it. It is worth the pain of letting these sweet babies into my heart. Yes it will be hard if the odds turn and she goes home. I will be devastated. But I will remember the joy and love that came flooding in with this little 16 pound 1 ounce bundle of bouncing giggles and fun. She is worth it. So for all those folks that say they could never do fostering, I say this, “it’s worth it.” The pain, the sleepless nights, the struggle between my selfish nature and doing what is best, the potential pain of loss and separation are worth it. This strawberry blonde, blue eyed baby home with Daddy Tim right now is worth all of it and more.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.