Thursday, November 7, 2013

Update: What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Foster Placement - 11.7.2013

In my 9th month of pregnancy I was told the baby could come “any day now”.  With that sense of anticipation my priorities shifted.  I was urged to do as much reading and sleeping as I could because “once that baby comes….nothing will be the same again.”  Although I could only understand this warning in theory until I experienced it for myself, I tried to get everything done that I knew needed doing and would be exponentially harder after the baby arrived.  Prepping meals, organizing, reading, researching, keeping up with emails and phone calls…etc.  I can remember making sure there was never a dirty dish in the sink or a load of laundry left unattended, because I didn’t want to come home from the hospital to uncompleted chores.
And here I am now – a foster mom– no bulging belly, no swollen ankles, and no due date.  But, with the same sense of urgency I am striving to accomplish all the same tasks I did before my daughter was born.  Grocery shopping – because what if we get a placement and can’t make it to the store right away?  Organizing….because once we get a placement I want to be able to focus on them and their needs rather than hunting for matching socks.   Researching, reading, and keeping in touch….because we all know that’s going out the window when I have a hand to hold, a mouth to feed, or a baby to swaddle.  I know our world is about to be rocked and I’m trying to prepare while I still have time.  So, in some ways it feels very familiar. 

 And yet, in other ways, I know the parallel is not there at all.  When we were expecting our daughter…the due date came and went, but still we waited with eagerness to meet our little one, knowing her birth was inevitable and her presence in our lives was all part of God’s perfect design for our family. Relatives, friends, and coworkers all sent gifts, shared wisdom, and gave encouragement as they awaited the new addition.  They shared their hopes, willing to risk a committal love because she was going to be ours…and in a way…theirs.  We were all curious, excited, and hopeful.  We didn’t know when she was coming, but we knew she was coming from the safety of my womb, to the safety of my arms and she would stay forever. 
As we await a foster placement, our eagerness is bittersweet.  We’re ready, we’re waiting, we’re even excited to help…. But, we know that if we get a call, it is only because a family has been broken in some way, a child’s life has been disrupted, and God’s perfect design has been violated.  An arrival won’t mean the miracle of birth. It will mean a traumatic departing from the life they knew and a painful separation from loved ones.  This scenario is not natural, familiar, or a reason to celebrate.  So, as we hope for the phone to ring, we also hope it never will.
Because we know when we meet a placement for the first time we'll want to scoop them up and shout, “We’re so glad you’re finally here!”   But, instead I picture myself holding a terrified, frail little stranger and whispering, “I’m so sorry we had to meet under these circumstances.”
We pray for courage as we face these unknowns. We share updates and rally support, but we’re unsure about how much to ask of those around us, knowing we can’t stop our battle from soon becoming theirs.  Most of our friends and family are curious and hopeful for us, but cautious.  They aren’t sure what to give, what to say, or how to help, even when they desire to show their support.   They express fears and concerns with honest hearts and try to understand why we would risk the heartache.  This is reasonable.  Foster care is complicated and confusing…especially from the outside.  It doesn’t fit the mold.   When I stock up on baby bottles, onesies, crib sheets, and other supplies at garage sales and thrift shops, I get strange looks.  They stare at where my baby bump should be and ask cautiously, "Are you expecting?"  
YES.  I am.  I’m expecting a child to need a refuge. I’m expecting to be that safe place. I’m expecting to give everything I have during their stay. I’m expecting to say goodbye before I’m ready.  And I’m expecting the call will come “any day now”.



1 comment:

  1. OH MY WORD! This is what I needed to hear! We have been approved for 7 weeks. We have not received the first call. Every day I wait with anticipation. ANY. DAY. NOW.