Foster Care:: A Different Kind of Birth Story

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My husband and I bought a house which was really far too large for just 2 people at the time. We were ready to fill it up. Both of us were wanting to do foster care and we hadn’t even bothered to try having our own yet. We just wanted to jump right into fostering as I felt called to it for a long time. We plunged into fostering classes and doing the necessary paperwork and appointments to become licensed. We finally got our license, and then, we waited. Every day that passed seemed to be so long. Finally, the call came in.

“We have a baby girl, born 2 weeks ago, ready for pickup on Monday, are you interested?”

I immediately forgot the list of questions that we were supposed to ask and I already knew my husband would say yes to this placement. I said yes and got into action. We were given the baby’s name but we didn’t know much else. We weren’t even given the time or directions on where to meet at the hospital and were struggling to get in touch with the social worker. Monday finally rolled around and mid-afternoon we got the call that the baby wouldn’t be ready until Friday now. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise. I realized with much thanks to the panic of my fellow mom friends that I really wasn’t prepared. I didn’t even have many bottles on hand and barely any diapers, I had a crib set up, clothes and a car seat and I really didn’t think about needing much else. I used those few extra days to get things together. The only big question remaining was the formula. I didn’t know what kind of formula the baby was on and also I was clueless about the formula. I had several samples from one brand and figured I’d just use that. Surely that would work?

Friday arrived. Clueless first-time parents that we were, we parked in the parking lot behind the hospital not realizing we were supposed to use valet especially if we were picking up a newborn. We checked in at the visitor desk and then got directed to the social services office. A social worker took us up into a little visiting room where a handful of people came in telling us so much information. How to do infant massage, some study that the biological mom was involved in, bottle preparation, and some general newborn care. I felt like we were cramming for an exam with all the information being dumped into our brains. Finally, though, a nurse wheels in a bassinet with a little 8-pound baby girl.  She was swaddled tight, sleeping contently, and our dream of doing foster care became a reality. The nurse informed us we needed to feed her before we left. My husband was the first to pick her up. The nurses detected his nervousness and jumped in to show him how to hold her. She awakened and showed her beautiful blue eyes and already gorgeous eyelashes. We fed her, burped her, and packed her into a car seat.

Then the nurses started handing us some much stuff that we somehow ended up with a box of miscellaneous hospital supplies! I now always recommend to anyone picking up a baby or bringing home their baby from the hospital to bring some sort of car seat stroller and an empty backpack or duffel just in case. As we loaded her into the car and drove away, the baby hiccuping all the way, the “mom nervousness” finally set in. Sure enough, the formula situation wasn’t right, we had to run to the store in the middle of the night to get the right kind.

We learned to juggle all the ups and downs of foster care. We realized within a few months that we were no longer wanting to be a foster only family but that we would be more than happy to adopt if it ever came to it. For our first baby, we went to her 1-year court hearing (which was when we were finally allowed attend court hearings), and after a few bumps in the road we finally found out that we would be able to adopt her. When she was just a few days shy of 18 months, she was finally ours permanently. That definitely was one of the best days of my life. It may have been a long winding road but it was definitely worth it.

The need for foster parents is increasing daily. These children need someone to empower their self-confidence, love them, and help them as they go through the roller coaster of this life. Don’t think you can handle the attachment or don’t have space for another? Fear not, fostering isn’t the only way to help. Foster families need meals, baby items, and clothing, and foster care resource banks accept donations. Offering babysitting or respite care and so many other small things can make a great difference.


A Few Helpful Foster Care Resources

The Village is Rhode Island’s only foster and adoptive family founded and governed support organization. The Village provides information classes, support classes, community outreach, and offers a resource bank that helps families be prepared for placement.

Fostering Hope
A nonprofit organization that exists to engage and equip members of the local church community to care for children in the foster care systems of New England.

Foster Forward
A nonprofit organization that strives to create programs to help youths in care as well as making sure that all foster youths are in safe, loving, and nurturing homes.