All during MAPP training, we were asked several times what the child we were hoping to have placed with us would look like. I am a people pleaser by nature, so I would have it no other way than to answer. "A child under 5 yrs old who needs a place to stay safe". Vague, PC, dripping with the "please certify us" desperation that controlled our lives. But really, the child that we wanted placed with us was a black newborn boy. I don't have any good reason for that- he's just who I wanted. He's who I pictured parenting for my whole adult life. Brandon and I spoke about it late at night when no one would ever hear because it's just not nice to try and special order a baby to your preferences. We never even whispered our hope to anyone at the county, and we would have honestly said yes to just about any child when we got our first Hallelujah.
It was a Wednesday when I got the call. The family I nannied for at the time was on vacation, so I was out with my Mom doing some thrift store perusing. We had just pulled into my driveway when I got the call. I told my Mom to run inside and get Brandon while I dug a receipt and a pen out of my purse to write down what the Matcher was telling me. When they got back to me, I had written: "Newborn Boy. AA, COMING TODAY!!". That was followed by a flurry of cleaning, shopping, packing the diaper bag, and installing the carseat. 6 hours later I sat on the couch holding my dream in my hands.
I've never fallen in love so fast, and I don't think I ever will again. Baby 1 healed a lot of hurt that I had been carrying in an empty womb. I believe I owe that baby my life. I am no longer who I was that morning at the thrift store. I am a better person because of Baby 1. Even 4 years later I would rush to lay my life down for him.
He was with us for 8 months before being reunified with his Father. One of the most important things Baby 1 taught me was how to grieve. I've been very sheltered and protected in my life. I never knew how to lose everything in one sweep and still keep going. I know how to do that now- because of Baby 1. Losing him was like drowning in scalding hot water.
It was about 4 months after I said goodbye, when I got slapped in the face by foster care.
I was at court for Babies 2&3, so my phone was on silent. When I got out of court, I had 3 messages from the matcher: Baby 1 was coming back into care. Could they bring him to us? Since they couldn't get me on my cell, they had tried my house and gotten my Mom- who was there watching the boys. She told them where I was and that she knew for a fact that we would definitely take him back. She had already started making up his room again. I couldn't breathe: so disappointed, so elated, so worried, so hopeful. Then I got another call from the matcher. The CPS investigator had gone to the daycare and determined the baby was not in imminent danger, and would not be coming into care.
Devastation. Just when I had started to heal, they pour salt in the wound. I had to stop driving because I was hysterical. I pulled into a Wendy's parking lot and sobbed for 20 minutes. Not only was he taken from us once, and dangled in front of us to just be taken again, but I knew what the CPS report was about and it sounded like he wasn't in a great situation.
Still, I healed. I've had to say goodbye six more times since then. Every time it's just as hard, but I get better at it.
It was about 4 years after I said goodbye, when I got slapped in the face by foster care. Version 2.0
This Wednesday at noon, I was at the pharmacy picking up meds for my Mom who was recovering from cancer surgery on my couch when I got a call from the matcher: Baby 1 was coming back into care. Could they bring him to us? I bought every kind of fun kid thing in that pharmacy: candy, crackers, juice, toy airplanes. Brandon went right from work to Target to get a cozy blanket and a pillow pet for him, as well and pullups since we don't know if he's potty trained. I flew around the house: making up the same room he was in when he was just days old, and prepping Baby 4 for a new roommate who would now take up the bottom bunk. I got a call from the worker at 3:30 saying the investigator was going out to tell Dad about the placement, and the baby should be brought to my house after that. So we waited... and waited... until Thursday when the worker called me back to tell me they found a relative resource, and the baby would not be coming into care.
Devastation. Just when I thought the hurt was over, and my wounds had healed, they sliced open my scars while I laid there impotently. My whole body aches for him. It's a physical pain just as much as an emotional one.
Still, I'll heal. And the next time that Hallelujah rings, I'll stand proudly with my cheek to that phone, knowing the slap could come. Because that boy never stops teaching me. This time the lesson was from afar, but it was loud and clear:
A Mother never really loses her babies; even if they are where she can't reach. I'm here for him in the only way I can be. I'm waiting at rock bottom with a pillow pet to break his fall should he ever need me.