Our local Baptist Association was hosting an Easter egg hunt for foster families. They were kind enough to include prospective foster parents in on the invitation. I was relieved when I pulled up and saw two other couples from the GPS (foster care certification) classes. I was a newbie and totally felt like it. Seeing other newbies I could band with turned down the awkward dial.
Foster mom's were pulling up in minivans and SUVs with multiple kids of different races piling out. As I watched little ones toddle around with Easter baskets bigger than they were, I began to think about how real this whole thing was becoming. These were actual souls, no longer case studies or statistics. Here were babies and preschoolers and big kids who had found a safe haven in the homes of loving families. They were protected. And happy. And doing normal little kid stuff. The weight that we might be embracing one just like them in a few weeks settled like a heavy quilt. Just warm. And not burdensome.
I stayed for only 45 minutes knowing I had another normal little kid event to attend (Titus' first game of the season!) then started saying my goodbyes. Several social workers from our county were there that day, and on my way out one asked if she could talk with me.
If you've read previous blog posts, you might assume nothing would shock me at this point. I should expect the unexpected. We all should. We serve a mysterious God who is a master plot-twister. And that day, He did it again.
"Beth, we got a call yesterday. There was a baby born Friday who we will have to take into care on Monday. Would you and Nathan be interested in fostering this baby?"
One heartbeat. Eyes bulging.
The easiest and quickest yes I've ever uttered.
I vaguely remember asking if it was a boy or a girl, but at this point my IQ had dropped dramatically and I was having trouble forming sentences. A baby boy, she said.
EEEK! A baby boy!
I got a few other details. But that was it. My brain was trying to compute a baby boy joining our nest. THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. I don't even remember saying goodbye. And I definitely forgot to get her cell number. Did I buckle my seat belt after I got in the car? How do you start this thing?! Tee ball, game, Beth. Get it together and drive! You can wig out later.
I remember zilch about the drive to the ball field. Except that about half way there I started questioning my memory.
Did I hear her correctly? Did she mean this Monday? As in not tomorrow but the next day!?
I speed dialed my friend Machelle who I hoped and prayed was still at that Easter Egg hunt. "Machelle, this is Beth. Is Felecia still there? Hallelujah. Could you ask for her number. Wait. That's weird. She might not want to give me her personal number. Would you give her my number and ask her to call me as soon as she has a chance? It's REALLY important. Great, thanks!"
Cause that didn't raise an eyebrow at all.
As I walked toward the ball field from the parking lot like a zombie, another thought struck me.
Maybe I should have asked Nathan about this.
I stared at my son in all his cuteness playing ball and my husband rocking the coach role, but mentally I was elsewhere. Trying to figure out what the heck was going on up in here. We were only 8 weeks into our training. A baby boy was moving in? On Monday!? By my estimation, this whole scenario was at the very least 2 weeks earlier than I had expected.
I should stop expecting.
Those games only last about 30 minutes. Hallelujah, amen. Because I needed to talk to my husband NOW. The teams shook hands, kids came by for snacks. I did the, "Great job, Titus!" spill. Nathan gave me the "How did it go?" eyebrow raise.
And then I lowered the boom on his orderly and predictable world.
Something about sharing the news with Nathan forced reality to set it. And with reality came the excitement. You've heard of nesting. I went into hyper-nesting. My mind racing with what all needed to be done. I had a crib. But that was the extent of the baby gear at my house. No bottles. No car seat. No changing pad. No nothing. I had enjoyed 36 weeks of preparation for my two biological babies. I was looking at 36 hours at best for this one. How was I going to get everything I needed in 36 HOURS?!
Shortly after we left the ball field, I gave my friend Katrina the news. Three hours later she bust up in my driveway, SUV loaded down with baby gear. Later Calli came with even more stuff. Bless the hearts of mom's who keep everything and are willing to share! They totally tended to my heart with their generosity and prevented wide scale panic since I was down to around 30 hours at that point.
The next day (Sunday) was a blur. I didn't talk about our news much to church members. Quite frankly I was beginning to wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing. It was a packed day from beginning to end which left no time for hand wringing or anxiety. We just did life. With the knowledge that we could be gaining a family member the next day.
Monday morning came. Titus out the door to school and a kiss to Nathan on his way to work. I remember him saying, "Call me if we have a baby. I'll come home."
I love that guy.
I performed the worlds fastest house cleaning, dressed Anna and dashed to the grocery store for FORMULA and DIAPERS. By 11am I was home wondering if this was really going to happen.
Shouldn't they have called by now? If nothing else but to confirm I would be home? Maybe they decided to take him to someone else. What is the protocol for this sort of thing?!
At 1:45 pm, the phone rang.
"Beth, what's your address? We're on our way to the hospital and then we'll be straight over to your house."
WITH A BABY, YA'LL.
It struck me then. That fragile three-day-old wee one was being picked up by strangers, only to be transported to a stranger's home, to be cared for by strangers.
Begin heartbreak. And tears.
30 long minutes went by before I heard Gracie barking alerting us to outsiders on the premises. It was raining. One social worker was holding an umbrella over the other as she tried to maneuver the carseat out of the car. I ran over and bounced around them like a chihuahua. Eager to help but not wanting to take over too quickly.
And then he was under my roof. In my living room. And I got my first look.
No words. Just big, deep emotions.
The stranger transport people stayed about 20 minutes. As my friend Jenna described it, having appliances delivered often demands more ritual and paperwork. I signed nothing. Knew nothing. Save his name. And the immediate, overwhelming desire to nurture and protect this tiny one.
How long that role would belong to me was a mystery. A great unknown that would dominate my thoughts in the days to come. But that first night with him brought one certainty. He was now a part of us. Our history. Our story. And we were a part of his.