The arrangements were all made. We’d be meeting the baby girl’s current foster family at a local cafe on Thursday to make “the switch.”
This was unusual to have time to plan and prepare. We’d been told in our classes that most foster children come into custody in the middle of the night after a traumatic evening brought the cops to their home. More than likely, we’d get a call at 1 or 2 am, and the child would be delivered to our house immediately, in tears and afraid, unsure of what was going on or where they were going. We shouldn’t expect them to be grateful to us for taking them in, rather, they’d likely hate us at first, seeing us as part of the system that tore them away from their parents. How crazy it is that no matter how bad a situation, there is more comfort in the familiar than the unknown.
So, for the past month, we’d been preparing for such an encounter. We had agreed we’d take a child, either gender, between newborn and 3 years old. I’d rummaged through onesies and sleepers of all sizes for those ages, and gathered at least one simple outfit that “would do” for any child brought to us until we had time to go shopping for him or her the next day. We had jumbo crayons, a coloring book, a few board books, and several stuffed animals. Hopefully enough to keep a child occupied until we had a chance to better prepare.
But with this situation, we did have that chance. Wednesday, we let the anticipation sink in all the more as we bought a few newborn outfits, a new set of bottles, a little plastic infant tub, and, of course, diapers and hygienic necessities.
We were ready, practically speaking. At least for a week or so.
We dreamed aloud together, and we shared our anxieties as the next morning drew nearer. So many questions lingered in our minds…
What would we feel when we first saw her?
Would she accept our affections? Or would she be upset and want her “other” family… the only one she’d known up to that point?
Of course we were intent on loving her, no matter what she looked like. No matter what problems she may have. We were going to embrace her. But would the love of a parent come naturally? We prayed it would.
Then, there’s family. We both have wonderful families. Loving families. But we wondered if they’d love her the same as if she were biological. We hoped they would.
I dreamed of picking her up and holding her for the first time.
Would I be holding my future daughter? Or would this just turn out to be a temporary situation, and we’d have to give her up after a few weeks or months? We didn’t know.
But we immediately began praying for forever, and asked our family and friends to do the same.
We arrived at the cafe, took a deep breath, and walked in. We looked around. No babies.
They sat us at a large table near the window, which gave us a perfect view of the parking lot. With each car that passed, we strained our eyes to see if there was a car seat in the back. A few did, but they kept moving. Not them. My husband and I barely spoke to each other, but in perfect unison, we’d glance up to the door each time it opened. When it turned out to be just ordinary baby-less people, we’d look at each other, slightly disappointed, and turn our attention back to the parking lot.
We did this for forty-five minutes.
Finally, and rather immediately, this couple appeared before us, a three-year old boy in tow, and an infant carrier in hand. They’d come in through the back and spotted us before we spotted them.
Our faces must have had a look of sheer expectation, the way they walked right up to us like that, having never seen us before, yet obviously assuming we were the right ones they came to meet.
We looked down at the infant carrier. A pink blanket was covering her. I tried to maintain adult composure and not squeal with excitement like a five-year old child on Christmas morning.
After proper introductions, they pulled up a chair, placing it right next to me, and set the carrier on it.
Time for the reveal. I lifted the blanket, and there she was. The tiniest beauty, sound asleep.
She was dressed in a pink denim jacket and pants, her little eight-pound body not able to fill out the newborn outfit adorning her. She looked so delicate. She looked so peaceful. She looked like my daughter.
The love was instant. Back home, she did not cry for the other family, yet settled right into our arms, comforted by our swaying and song.
Then, I said the words I’d always longed to say. I imagined them in a hospital room, family all around me, but this was good enough. “Hi little one… I’m mommy.”
Actually… this was perfect.
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