Disclaimer: Due to HIPAA laws, all blog posts related to our Foster Care experiences will have limited information when referring to the children and their cases. Their names will remain private and I will use generalizations when writing. I will not be posting any photos of the children that are in our care. My blog will remain public so people can stumble-upon it and so you can share with your family and friends. My FB page (close friends & family only) has the proper privacy settings in place per our licensing coordinator and I will be posting photos on there. It's basically Fort Knox! :)
I'm convinced, that not even 9 months can prepare you for your first child, let alone less than 24 hours! In fact, I welcome the challenge for someone to prove me wrong! Despite the many years of babysitting, having younger siblings and cousins, nieces and nephews and 30+ hours of training, there is still that O.M.G. moment. Lets rewind 9 weeks...
Since early December, we had been anticipating the email from Eckerd that would say we've finally been approved to be foster parents. But as we all know, when we hear the words easy or fast-moving, we certainly don't associate them with anything involving a government agency. Friday, January 27th at 9:54am, would finally mark the end in this CRAZY process - only, it was just the beginning of a whole new experience. An experience, that I was beginning to have second thoughts about.
Early that week, we were informed that they had a few options for us after we were approved, all were boys and ranged from 1-2 yrs old. We were so nervous, but the excited kind. We began mentally preparing ourselves for an instant life change - lack of sleep, teaching shapes and colors, potty training, terrible two's and everything in between! So imagine our surprise when we got a call just hours after being licensed about a 2 month old! After hearing the specifics about the child we agreed to accept him as our first foster child. I hung up the phone and was frozen for a solid 3 minutes. Despite our house being 100% baby proof, having an approved home health inspection and being completely vetted as if we were joining the CIA, I felt completely unprepared. I began to do the only thing I knew to be soothing for me in times of anxiety...clean! Ben was stuck in St. Pete and was trying his hardest to make it home before the baby was dropped off. My heart was racing so fast I kept stopping to time my pulse. The car pulled up around 10:00pm (longest 2 hours of my life) and the most peaceful and sweetest little boy joined our lives.
The first few hours were a bit fuzzy considering the series of events that unfolded in a few short hours. I mostly remember my amazing family coming by to help us ease into our first night. I'm so thankful that Shannon came over and made a late night trip with me to Walmart helped me pick out the essentials.
The baby slept like you would expect any 2 month old to sleep...not enough! I woke up Saturday morning in a complete daze, my emotions were on high alert. We had a prior work event that caused Ben to be away all day and I was left to be a first time mom all by myself. We hadn't even had the baby for 12 hours and I already wanted to throw in the towel; I felt like I was being fed to the wolves. I've never experienced depression, (although on my worst PMS day I could probably do some damage to someone) but it was the only word I could use to describe what I was feeling. My body was experiencing emotions I never encountered before. I spent the day with my mom and sister and I was in such a funk, I had a really hard time bonding with the baby. I spent the next few days crying a lot and barely eating. I didn't like this new version of me. Wasn't this supposed to be the most rewarding experience?
It took a few days, but my emotions finally gave my brain a second to really "soul search", for lack of a better term. The light bulb turned on and after a good long cry on my husbands shoulder, I finally got it. I realized the reason I was a ticking time bomb of emotions wasn't because I was having some sort of postpartum depression, but that this precious new addition wasn't "my" child. I was afraid I wouldn't know how to love a child that wasn't my own. I didn't spend 9 months eating saltines and drinking Ginger Ale, because I was hit with a major case of morning sickness. I didn't spend hours at Target with a scan gun carefully selecting the items I couldn't wait to open at a baby shower. And I certainly didn't go to Babies"R"Us and pick out the matching furniture set that I had my eyes on for years for the nursery. Nine months of planning didn't go into all of this, in fact it was barely 3 months. My mind had finally be focused on getting approved to be foster parents, that I had forgotten how we were led to choosing this route.
There are so many women that complain over the slightest change in their body, constant illness or just being plain uncomfortable during pregnancy. What they don't realize, is that women like me would give anything to feel a baby growing inside them and knowing that it carries their DNA, no mater what the circumstances or "burdens" that come with it. It's an experience that should not be taken for granted.
It's been a little over two months since we received this precious baby boy and I am proud to say, it is certainly possible to love a child that isn't your own. He has brought so much joy to Ben and I in such a short time. We are honored to be the ones that the Lord has chosen to care for him during this time. I am in shock at how fast he is growing and all the milestones he is checking off his list.
February 1st - 9lbs / 21.5in
March 21st - 12lbs / 24in
The craziest and most unexpected thing about this whole experience, is that the Lord has begun revealing a new passion in our lives regarding mentorship for the biological parents. We are excited to see whats to come.