After we decided to adopt, we had to take the first step. Attend the orientation meeting for foster and adoptive parents. We did so in December of 2012, and gathered our materials for our application over Christmas break. We were told that the licensing process usually takes anywhere from 90-120 days… which at that time, seemed like forever.
We met with our caseworker, had numerous interviews, and were told we needed to begin our training classes. There would be four altogether. Two Saturdays back-to-back, then a month-long break so each couple/family would get a chance to do a respite, whatever the heck that was. We had so much to learn…
My husband and I went in for our “couple” interview in late January, where our worker told us the next available round of classes would begin that Saturday… my birthday. My husband, not sure how I’d feel spending 8 hours of my birthday “in class,” was quick to say we could catch the next one. But, on the drive home, at the risk of sounding crazy, I told him that I really wanted to do it. After all, what better way to spend my birthday than getting one step closer to becoming a mommy?
We showed up that Saturday, eager and nervous. After the first four hours, we were dismissed to lunch, where my husband and I, after hearing some of the realities of foster parenting, wondered if we were crazy. But by the end of the day, our hope had risen again, and we felt as though we were just beginning some grand adventure.
The next class went off without a hitch, and then came the month-long break. Respite time. Over the next month, we’d be getting a call to watch a child for three days to give another foster family a break. It would also serve as a sort of “test run” for us. We couldn’t wait.
The first week came and went. Then the second. Then the third.
Three and a half weeks had gone by, and we hadn’t received a call. With the classes starting up again that Saturday, we were pretty bummed that we’d missed out.
A day later, my phone rang in the middle of my school day (I was teaching 4th grade at the time). It was our social worker, who told me that she had come upon a respite opportunity for us. If we were available, we could watch a two-month old little girl for the weekend. We. Were. Excited.
I told her yes and she gave me the info, but a few hours later I realized… we were supposed to pick her up the Saturday morning our class resumed. We were told that she was a pretty happy baby, and with how young she was I assumed she’d sleep most of the day. We’ll just take her with us to class, we decided… until our worker told us that that would not be allowed, and she would have to find somebody else to watch her.
Dang it! We had missed out on our chance.
Saturday came and we attended the class. Right as we were being dismissed for our first break, my phone buzzed. It was our worker.
“Hey! I found a lady to watch the baby for you for today, but I told her you guys would come by and pick her up after you got out of class… is that okay?” Clearly she knew how desperately we wanted this. YES. I said.
The rest of the day dragged on, feeling like forever, knowing that once it was over we’d get to go pick up a precious little baby. Our very first taste of parenthood.
When we got to the lady’s house to pick up the baby, we were greeted rather oddly. The lady was sitting on the floor, baby in her arms, and there were two young boys playing nearby.
“I told your worker I could watch her for the whole weekend,” she said, “It’s not a problem… I’d be happy to do it. That’s her brother over there.” She pointed to one of the boys, then continued, “But she seemed very insistent that you two watch her.”
I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for her, or grateful that we had been assigned such a wonderful worker. I smiled kind of sheepishly and muttered, “I’m sorry.”
We took that baby home and did all the sorts of things you do with a two-month old. Made faces. Gave kisses. Fussed over how cute her yawns were. Rocked her to sleep and put her to bed.
The next morning was Sunday. Church. We hadn’t yet told anybody there that we were planning on adopting. It looked like this would be our announcement.
Hours later, people were flocking to the new mystery baby, grabbing her teensy feet, and asking me who’s she was and why I had her. When we told them we’d be adopting (but not that baby, unfortunately), they lavished us with well wishes.
When it came time for that baby to leave, we were not ready for the weekend to be over. But the foster mom came anyway, and grabbed the baby’s things as my husband helped her carry them out to the car. I was left by the front door, the baby strapped in her car seat on the floor at my feet. I sat down in front of her, looked into her little brown eyes and thanked her. I thanked her for her smiles. For her cuddles. For giving me a taste of what I had to look forward to. As I bent down to kiss her cheek, the foster-mom appeared in the doorway.
“Well, thanks,” she said, and she picked up the baby and walked out.
I watched her walk towards the driveway, then I slowly closed the door. I turned around, relieved to see that I was not the only one getting choked up… my husband’s eyes were as moist as mine. We hugged, then turned toward our living room. Our empty, quiet living room. No more coos and caws. No more cute little sneezes. We quickly decided to go see a movie to get our minds off of it. We wished we could keep that baby. We missed her already. Little did we know a few months down the line, we’d be getting our own nearly two-month old princess.
(To continue the story, click here)