Five years ago this month, we welcomed our second baby, a boy, into our home.
“Baby Z” was two weeks old. He was strong and scrumptious. Though we only had him for two weeks before the county placed him with another foster mom, his mark on our family is permanent. Something changes in you when you’re responsible for someone this fragile.
A few months earlier, we had provided a month of respite care for “Baby F.” Even after two biological kids, I still consider her my first baby. The moment we met is crystalized for me. Forty-eight hours after her mom gave birth, her social worker brought this tiny human to my house. She set her in her car seat on my couch, handed me a small bag of clothes, a few bottles and gave instructions to feed her every three hours. That was it. The social worker left and it was just we three.
Someone just brought a baby to our house and left her with us.
Though we’d been pursuing and preparing for this moment for more than a year, we felt the change right there. Our hearts cracked open wide to let another part of this world have its place. We didn’t know it then, but that’s when we started preparing for our recent trip to Uganda, to visit Abide Family Center.
Our experience doing foster care* included excellent training, caring and responsive social workers, and biological parents from diverse backgrounds with varying degrees of willingness to participate in family preservation with us. During the training, we latched onto the idea of fostering as a process of restoration. We would do our small part in a larger effort to keep children safe, but ultimately place them back with their biological families when at all possible.
Keeping children in their families is possible so much more often when there are people who believe that’s the best thing for them, and are willing to do the hard work to make that happen. Now, I’ve never been accused of being an optimist, but maybe you could call me a “hope-ist.” My stubbornness grabs on to the good things that should be in the midst of a fallen world and just will not let go. So when I see people like Megan and Kelsey, the founders of Abide, go all in to keep families together, I’m shouting, “Yes! This needs to happen, all over the world! How can I help?”
To be continued…
(PS. I’m going to drag this story line out so you feel like you’re sitting with me in Uganda, waiting for the dinner we ordered an hour ago and we’ve just been chatting away!)
*I wrote extensively about our foster care experience on my old blog. If you’re interested in reading about it, you can do a search over here for posts with the label “Foster Care.”