The call came on July 1, 2013 to my husband Dan. Ken Maxwell, the Director of Seven Homes was the one making the call.
When Dan relayed the details that Ken shared with him about us becoming parents, foster parents, of two children I felt so many emotions. Ken asked what we were doing the weekend of July 7th. Looking back, that was an interesting thing to ask. “We’re going to become parents, foster parents!” was not on our to-do list for that particular weekend.
I sat in the Target parking lot crying. I had ONE WEEK to get everything I needed to care for a seven month old little boy and three year old little girl, who I had never even met. A good friend helped me make a shopping list for all things baby. Who knew all that we would need? I certainly had no clue.
As I walked down the baby food aisle, I will never forget asking a lady who looked like a Mom, what “1st, 2nd and 3rd foods meant. Puzzled, she asked, “How old is your child?” My reply? “I believe he’s six or seven months old. I’m not completely sure.” Before she could answer my question, I said “OH MY! You must think I’m crazy! I am going to be a Foster Mom in four days!” She immediately embraced me. We cried and held each other as we shared our stories. She also struggled with infertility that ended in her giving birth to twin girls through IVF. She insisted that I come to her home immediately after I was finished shopping to pick up a “pack n’ play, a swing and Dr. Brown bottles.” She gave me her phone number and address. She asked me to text her when I was on my way.
I text messaged her as I was leaving the store and asked if she was certain she wanted a complete stranger coming to her home. She demanded that I come on over. They were going out of town THAT VERY EVENING. (Amazing how God
works, right?) She gave me some great advice, as I sat on the couch in her living room, about being a Mom. I admired her twin girls who were gated in their play area and her interactions with them. I vividly recall her telling me that sometimes I will “feel like I’m losing my mind, but those feelings would be completely normal.” I fearfully wondered what I had gotten myself into.
My cousins were scheduled to visit that weekend with their children from out of town. I didn’t want to change their plans because their trip to NC had been scheduled for months. They left our home on Sunday morning, July 7th at around 8 AM. The doorbell rang that same Sunday morning at 10 AM. (an hour earlier than we expected).
Me, with a towel on my head, trying to get the plush blanky on our little girl’s chair with her stuffed animal sitting just perfectly as if to welcome her, was a memory I reflect upon often.
I chose a smiling green frog with extra long legs and arms to hug her when she needed to feel comforted, not knowing if she could feel comforted by the hug of a stranger.
So, did I mention that within three hours of welcoming our new children into our home, my husband was flying to North Dakota for business all week?
When Ken told us that the little girl had asthma and was living in a smoking home, I couldn’t put it off, not even a week. The sooner we could help her the better.
My entire family lives in another state, nearly eight hours away. Thank God for friends and my husband’s family.
Dan changed his trip to come home late Wednesday evening instead of Friday afternoon. I think sending him pictures of me with poop on my leg, and tidbits about our incredibly eventful days, made him long to be home, experiencing the newness of parenthood with me.
By that Friday, some of our dear friends brought over an amazing meal along with a crib, a mattress for the crib, sheets and a bumper guard (I think that’s what they are called). We were given everything we needed, even a high chair. Talk about a God thing! The only “big item” purchases we made were car seats. Since I didn’t know my little guys weight, I couldn’t even buy diapers for him. Who knew that diapers go by weight? I really had no idea!
I learned so much in a very short period of time. We became parents to two beautiful children seemingly overnight. It was amazing. It was scary. I wasn’t in shock then. I was distracted. I was caring for two little beings that needed to feel all the love in the world. The shock of being a parent REALLY hit me almost a year later. I remember getting dressed for bed the night my husband got back home from his business trip. He whispered, “You look small”. I didn’t realize it, but I had lost six pounds during the first week of having the children. I don’t remember eating, or sleeping, for that matter. It was all about their needs being met. It still is.
We moved our bedroom up to the Guest room to sleep between the children’s bedrooms. We lived upstairs for about a month, making sure they were acclimating well to their new environment.
As I mentioned, our door bell rang an hour earlier than we expected, it was the children’s Social Worker. I remember sharing a brief stare into my husband’s eyes as if to say, “I hope we’re ready for this.”
I recall Dan asking our children’s Social Worker if he could take the little guy out of the van for her. She quickly replied, “Of course!” He’s yours!”
I slowly walked out to the van to see our little girl for the first time. She glared at me. She was only three. I offered to help her out of the van and thankfully, she allowed me. I introduced myself. “Hi Sweetie. My name is Christie.” I noticed the sippy cup in her hand. It was filthy. I didn’t want to take it away from her too soon though, especially if she found comfort in it.
One thing we learned in our MAPP Training was that while this may feel like such a happy and exciting day for us as new Foster Parents, it could seem like the most unhappy day for the children. I was cautious. I displayed a quiet, safe and welcoming disposition.
Little guy was all smiles in Dan’s arms. Every time I touched his little belly, he bent over with glee, he was so tickled. What a doll!
They had bug bites on their faces. Upper respiratory infections. Ear infections. Ring worm. There was mold inside of my daughter’s sippy cup. Their clothing was brought to us in trash bags that we were told to leave in our garage for a week or two before bringing into our home.
It was suspected that our little girl had lice. Thankfully, that was not the case. We found that out after we stripped our entire house of all of our bed linens, stuffed animals and pillows.
Our first week was certainly an eventful one. Every week since has been an eventful one. Through every sickness, surgery, sadness, fear, tantrum and uncertainty, it has been so worth knowing that we are providing a safe and loving environment for two children who may have never been given this opportunity.