Thursday, March 19, 2009

When John Made us Parents

When we became foster parents we explained our understanding of the job to our social worker.  Theo said, "We are Motel 6.  We leave the light on."  Our job was to provide a safe place until they could go to the nebulous somewhere called home.  We were excited to participate in this noble endeavor.

At the end of May, that same social worker called to say we had officially received our foster parenting license.  After a short pause, she added that she would like to offer us the chance to be a respite home for 10 days for a 20 month old boy.  Before she could finish my heart was screaming "YES!"  She said he'd been in quite a few foster homes and was quite difficult to handle.  His current foster parents were leaving the state for job interviews and couldn't take him with them.  Heck, I thought, we can handle anything a 20 month old could throw at us for 10 days.  Theo and I quickly agreed to take the job.

Since the little boy had been moved so frequently, DCS felt it best if we visit him a couple of days before we took him.  We arrived at the foster family's house to find an amazing tank of a bald-headed boy.  He looked more like 3 or 4 than 20 months.  His smile was infectious and he ADORED Theo.  

I called my Mother that night and told her I was in love and scared OUT OF MY MIND.  How am I going to handle being a revolving door when I fall in love with the first child in the first five minutes?  For two days I pined for the boy I barely knew.  I pined for a boy I was destined to care for for only 10 days and then send him back to another foster family and then later back to his birth parents.  

At last, we picked him up at the other family's house.  He knew what suitcases meant and leaving by himself with strangers.  He was hiding under an end table in the hallway, making himself as small as possible.  He screamed and raged but there was nothing he could do to prevent this.  He was miserable.  

He had the only thing that comforted him in a little baggy he would continue to hold onto for weeks and months after that: food.  He kept dry cereal in a baggy at all times.  Food was the only thing that when available could reliably make him feel comfortable and safe.  

His head was shaved because he'd had head lice and that was how his previous foster parent chose to treat it.  Two weeks before this, he underwent surgery to place ear tubes and clip his tied tongue.  He had a raging sinus infection that took 8 months of antibiotics to clear up.  

He had lived in his first home until about 1 year of age, experiencing severe neglect.  Then he was placed in foster care with two older siblings and then separated from them.  He bounced during the next 8 months into so many homes that DCS didn't record them all on his official paperwork.  One social worker later told us it was more than 20 homes.  

But when he came to our home for 10 days, he laid a claim on our family.  The other foster parents got the out of town job and decided rather than move John twice, they would let him stay with us.  So we would be his port in the storm until he went home to live with his biological family.  Over two years later, that option became unavailable and we all agreed, he was already living in his forever home with his forever parents.  

Since then, we have had the opportunity to foster a few other children.  While they were all wonderful and amazing and I was sad to see them leave, none of them broke my heart.  My spirit must have known he was my son the moment I saw him.  Despite my painful willingness to set him free, this butterfly chose to stay.  

Thanks for choosing us, John!


Angela (HsvScrapGirl) said...

I can't imagine John not being a part of your family. The first time we met him we knew he was meant to be your son. There was never a doubt about that.

Carissa said...

That was so beautifully written. :)

Mary said...

You are such wonderful parents. My heart is with you.