As I excitedly shared in a brief post on Monday, we got our first foster care placement on Monday! CPS called around 1:00 pm, asking us to take a little 19-month-old girl. We accepted, and I immediately went into nesting mode, sweeping and vacuuming and getting the eat seat and box of 18-24 month clothes out of the attic. I had to get a little more work done that afternoon, but it was very hard to stay in my seat. I was a ball of nervous energy and kept thinking of things I should do before she arrived.
They finally brought her over around 5:00, while Matt was gone to get the girls from school. He told Kate on the way home that our first "guest kid" would be there when they got home, and her immediate response was, "I'm going to share my toys with her!" When they came in the door, Matt knelt down and the little girl came over and hugged Kate, then him. Claire wasn't so sure, sensing a usurper in this little darling who is about her size.
Indeed, our little guest—who I'll call "Faith" here, I suppose (pseudonyms appear to be the standard in foster family blogs, since privacy and confidentiality are important)—got quite attached to me right away, so Claire gets uneasy if my lap is occupied by another baby. Claire found she has the trump card, of course, just leaning back to nurse, which generally forces Faith off my lap.
The house soon got even fuller, as my parents were stopping over that night on their way back from Mardi Gras, but it was fun they could meet her right away. So Faith slept in the pack-n-play in our room that first night, since my parents were in the guest room. We found that she hates to go to sleep, but once asleep, is a great sleeper! She took a three hour nap on Tuesday, and sleeps till after 7 or even 8 in the morning.
We're having a lot of fun in our house full of girls. Kate has enjoyed being big sister to two little ones, and Faith and Claire are now little partners-in-crime, running around and playing together, bonking each other with balloons, eating their body weight in Cheerios and raisins, and taking all the letter magnets off the fridge and throwing them on the floor. Faith loves the cat even more than Claire does, trying to pick her up and hug her, Elmyra-style. Her favorite activity of all, it seems, is messing with the latch and knob on the dishwasher.
It's been harder to get work done, of course, working around her (thankfully long) naps, court time, conversations with social workers, etc. It's interesting to learn how everything works and meet all the many people involved in helping this little girl and her family have a better future. At court yesterday, we met family members, social workers in various roles, and lawyers of all types. I was nervous about meeting Faith's mom, worried she would be resentful of us, taking out her hurt and sorrow over losing her daughter on us, but she was very gracious and appreciative. We made her a valentine card with Faith's handprint on it, and she seemed to cherish it. She told Faith how much she loved her. It was definitely difficult when Faith reached for me many times, rather than her mom. Matt and I just can't imagine the pain of having one's child taken to live with strangers, or the hurt of seeing one's child get so attached to someone else. We really hope and pray she will do whatever needs to be done to reunite with her daughter safely.
We go to court again on Tuesday to see if they're going to let a family member take her. If she's going to be with us for a while, I'll get her into day care and make that part of our family routine, and if she leaves us on Tuesday, I'll just be glad to have known her and gotten to play a part in the village that is raising this child.
It's a shame that so many people only get involved when there is trouble. The "normal" and "healthy" families in our society seem to be so self-sufficient, but we all need support systems. Hopefully not social workers and lawyers, but friends and family. At church on Wednesday night, people held Faith and/or Claire while I got our dinner, went to the bathroom, etc., and I was reminded yet again of the beauty that happens when people come together to help one another and, especially, to nurture the children in our midst. I usually feel a twinge of guilt when someone needs to help me wrangle our kids and their gear, and even more so now that the little ones outnumber Matt and I. A mean voice in my head thinks, "why are you parenting these kids if you can't do it all yourself?" But we're not meant to do it all ourselves. We all need the village.