See that sweetie right there? That’s my daughter before she came to live with us. Her first foster mama sent us the picture after it was decided that we would be her new home. They loved her dearly but made the decision that they could not be a long term home for her (in case she needed one), so we were called.
I remember it so vividly. As I was sitting in the parking lot of Goodwill (which is a bit ironic), my phone rang. I saw the number and knew it was our state’s child protection services calling. My stomach flip-flopped a bit and I answered, “Hello?”. The social worker on the other line explained my daughter’s situation and asked the words that so many foster families know, “Are you interested in being a placement?”
I told her that I needed to call my husband first. We agreed to talk about it after work. After his call, I called my mom for her advice. Even as an adult, I knew I needed to speak to her. Technically, we were not even on “the list” for placements but we did tell our licensing worker to keep us in mind.
Thoughts swirled through my head. “What about our son?” (He was only two at the time and we had just been through close to two years of fostering him before we were able to adopt.) “How will it impact him?” “Are we ready for another kiddo?” “Can I handle the sleepless nights again?” “Are we ready to not be in control and unsure of what is going to happen with this little girl’s case?” “Can we do this?” You get the point. It was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.
I called the social worker back and asked, “Could we have a few days to work some things out and talk about it before we make a decision?” She said, “Of course, that is fine.” So we did…and we said, “Yes.”
This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s ninth birthday. With each of my children’s birthdays, I relive the day they came into my life. It’s like reliving a birth story but of course, I wasn’t there for their births. I wasn’t around to watch them enter this big world. I didn’t get to swaddle them up and hold them close as they cried out, “I AM HERE!” However, I was there when social services called. I’ve been here ever since.
Watching my daughter grow through the years has given us much joy. It has also come with a whole lot of challenges – some unique to adoptive families, some typical of any family raising a girl.
She’s a bit mysterious, generous, ornery, charming, super strong-willed, and creative.
She’s interested in learning about the world around her and feels every ounce of emotion that enters her mind. If we can just teach her to harness all of these qualities, I dare think she could be a force to reckon with in the future.
I’ve had nine on my mind; nine years of watching a baby who literally arrived on my doorstep grow into a girl who makes an impression on just about everyone she meets.
Foster parenting is something that never leaves you. The experience is surreal, emotional and so worth it. When we began, we had no idea what would happen. When we decided to close our license, we walked away with a wealth of knowledge, a big dose of humility, and two children who became ours through adoption.
Yes, I’ve had nine on my mind; nine years of loving and training up a daughter who just might change the world. I know she’s changed mine.
Happy Birthday, Sis. Love You Forever.