It was just after Thanksgiving, our big adoption had finalized that past year and things were really feeling “settled”. We hadn’t ended our time as foster parents entirely, knowing that we could provide respite to friends of ours and that we would have a quicker connection to any resources we would possibly need in the future. Bob and I had just added a large addition on our house, our kids now all had their own rooms and aside from Christmas prepping and a few finishing touches on the house renovations, we were just starting to feel normal. And that’s how I knew we’d be getting a call soon.
My car was on the fritz so my sister and I were carpooling every day to and from work. It was nice to spend that time with her. In all the conversations we had I am so glad I shared my intuition with her so that she didn’t later think I was crazy. I remember telling her how settled things seemed to be and that with the Holidays approaching foster care can get really busy. They are always in need of more homes as it is, but lots of other factors come up around the Holidays as well.
Foster homes and parents are already busy with their own family planning and events making it a hard time to say yes to more children.
Biological parents who may be on the brink of working things out are just pushed over the edge with holiday stress which results in the need for foster care intervention for their children sometimes.
The case workers are busy planning for all of the children already on their caseloads making sure that they have all they need; while also handling the heightened emotions of families in the system at this time of year -so they may be eager to find temporary placements for any new children until the Holidays are over and they can reorganize and plan more efficiently once things calm down.
And I could feel it. I just knew that we would be getting a call soon. Even with eight kids in our home we had the space thanks to the new addition and with my husband Bob home caring for the younger ones, we had the time and ability. I knew we weren’t going to be a “top pick” for any caseworker because of the amount of children, but we would be a very real choice faced with the seasonal overload.
December 1, 2014.
I was at my desk at work and I saw that phone number come up on my phone. It could’ve been anything really – questions about recertifying….a temporary respite placement…just checking in. But it wasn’t… “We have a little boy about 18mo. old –he appears to have some special needs but they haven’t been identified yet…his grandma is a very likely resource for him…it won’t be too long…but it will be a real foster placement, not just respite care” I hung up and called Bob. I don’t remember that conversation but we both agreed we could do this for a short while, it was Christmas after all. Plus, he was just a baby and the grandma was going to come through. So I called back the caseworker. “Sure, bring him over” and within 20 minutes they had brought him to our house. It was really that fast.
I remember begging Bob to send me a picture and waiting a lifetime for it to upload in my phone. I remember coming home and seeing him that first day. I remember my sister being there and one of our long-time friends came over to meet him that evening. I remember wanting him to talk so badly, to tell us everything, to make sure he was content… and yet he was pretty emotionless and couldn’t speak so we just held him. He had arrived with some summer clothes, a handful of diapers and a pretty beat up looking nebulizer. The caseworker had left some forms with very little info because it’s all she could give us. I remember us trying to pronounce and decipher his name which was spelled with an “I” in the middle and was culturally different than anything we had seen yet. So we ended up nicknaming him “Moose”.
Moose changed the course of our lives that day. In the next week I ended up taking FMLA leave from work now seeing that we had our work cut out for us. We would go to a doctor for something and then it seemed like every time we would get referred to a specialist. We know now that Moose is legally blind, he has albinism and is prone to some pretty severe asthma episodes that have thankfully been less and less as time has gone on. He has some developmental delays and learning disabilities as well. He has had dental surgery and ear tubes and EKGs to check for seizure activity that was later ruled out (thank God). He has special doctors and special teachers and special caseworkers for lots of different things.
But guess what? Here he is today…all spruced up! He is a humorous and intelligent four (and a half) year old boy. He is a kind friend and has a loving heart. He is perseverant and determined and stubborn. He doesn’t give up or give in without good cause. There were so many days we worried about all the things he would never do. And boy were we wrong. He speaks all the time! He is able to run and play! He is potty trained! He is even writing and spelling! He is AMAZING! And after other plans and attempts at reunification fell away over the last three years, we just finalized his adoption this past August.
We didn’t do it alone, even though it felt lonely at times. Foster care itself is mysterious that way.
Moose was a hard guy to figure out in the beginning but once the ball started rolling we were able to get him on the right track and things seemed almost calm. It was about that time our phone rang again.
But that’s a story for another day….