Called to a Montana Adoption
April 29, 2011 at 11:15 am my phone rang. Child Protect Services (CPS) was on the phone, a sweet voice says to me, we have a baby boy, he is 4 months old and just arrived via law enforcement. She tells me he was found in a known drug house, no one there knew where his parents were or much about him. He has an obvious eye infection and is “super adorable”.She asks if we can pick him up at the CPS office. We drop everything and excitedly head home to grab a car seat and some clothes. We had been licensed foster parents for less than 24 hours. You see our license arrived the night before. After many hours of training, home inspections, background checks and several months of waiting for it all to come together we finally were realizing a dream, to be foster parents. To help. To rescue. To love. We had somewhat Pollyanna views that we would “save” a child, this child.
We arrived at the office around 1:30 that afternoon. I'll never forget seeing my son for the first time. He was sleeping in a car seat, dressed in red Christmas pjs. The social worker said his clothes he was found in were so dirty they had to throw them away. He was so big, blonde hair and startled blue eyes. Each little noise he cried and twitched. Many thoughts raced through my mind. How could someone just leave him? What had he been through? Who had been caring for him? We knew so little. The social worker handed us a bag prepared by volunteers. It contained a knitted blanket, a few diapers, a bottle and a pair of pajamas and some paperwork, we knew his name and birthdate and we walked out guardians to this baby.
We headed straight to the doctor’s office because his eye was swollen shut with infection. He was weighed and measured, given vaccinations because he had not been seen in 3 months. He was big for his age and so jumpy. After a stop for medicine, formula and some clothes we headed home. It was not 9 months of pregnancy and hours of labor that brought this baby to us, the journey was longer and more arduous for him and us, but none the less we were a family. We instantly loved this little being. We would protect him and call him our own as long as we were lucky enough to have him.
You see the states number one goal after removing a child from their biological family is reunification. Reunification. That word is repeated over and over in training. Reunification. As foster parents we pledge to care for children, bring them in and love them. Watch them hit their milestones and grow up. You bond to them and them to you. All the while knowing that at any moment the call could come saying this child will be returned. Back to who knows what or who knows where? It’s a slippery slope. Your heart is on the line every day. The risk is great, the potential for loss very real, but at the heart is this child. The child that may be with you for a few days or for their entire life. You never know.
For our family, this little boy, became our forever son. 425 days later he was ours, a Myra. The road was filled with moments of pure joy and moments of pure terror. I imagine much as it would have been if we had given birth to him. William S. Burroughs said it best “There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve.” To me, this illustrates fostering perfectly. There are risks, but also great rewards.
What do I want people to know? According to AdoptUSKids.org there are over 104,000 children in foster care in the United States, of these kids more than 20,000 children age out of foster care without ever being adopted. Sit on that number for a moment. 20,000. Being taken away from your family and moved from place to place can leave children with a feeling that they cannot count on anyone. These kids want one thing, a family. Studies show that even a short time in a loving safe environment can impact a child’s entire life. It’s risky, no doubt about it. Messy too. Your heart is at risk 24 hours a day, but imagine the difference that one person can make. For our family, it’s been the greatest miracle. We started this journey thinking we would “save” a child, little did we know that the child, our child, saved us.
For more information about becoming a foster or foster to adopt parent visit www.adoptuskids.org/.../how-to-foster
Contributed by Julie Myra