I'm continuing to catch up on our foster journey so far before blogging in the present.
We were licensed in early May and got our first call later that month. We decided to say no to that placement, as it was for a boy several months older than Rhinoceros, and we had decided to maintain the family birth order. It was hard, though, and I still think of this toddler who was exposed to meth and how he might be doing.
The day after the first call, we got our second call. The first call was urgent: it's 10:30 pm and we want to place him tonight, though other agencies were seeking families as well. This time it was in advance, and a bit uncertain. A baby had been born that would be coming into foster care, but they were still trying to make a relative placement happen. Later I learned that the case was only offered to our agency because the mom had had parental rights terminated on her two sons. We had absolutely no reason to say no to this newborn baby girl (and B rolled his eyes at me at the idea of me saying no to a Hispanic baby girl), and waited overnight to find out if we would be called to pick her up or not when she was discharged.
We got the call to be at the hospital ASAP, especially because they were hoping to avoid confrontation with an upset relative. This thankfully did not happen, but it was a trip to the hospital I would never forget. The agency offered that one of their social workers meet me there to support me, and I'm very glad I took them up on their offer as a brand new foster mom. Awkwardness from beginning to end, even in asking for directions at an information desk but not being able to say the name of the mother of the baby, because I didn't know it. All the nurses on the postpartum floor were staring at me. But I met up with the social worker and filled out forms and waited in a conference room. A nurse wheeled in little Pterodactyl in all her newborn sweetness in her bassinet. She was swimming in a 3-6 month sleeper. The nurse was having a tough time with the whole ordeal emotionally, and I'm sure she overhead much more of the whole story than I know to this day. Then I was told that the birth mom was asking about me, who I was, and wanted to meet me, know about my family, etc. Her older children are in a relative's care, so foster parents were new territory. Though new territory doesn't begin to describe meeting a woman who gave birth to a child three days ago right before that child would go home with me, against her wishes. I didn't have to agree to meet her right then, but I took a deep breath and said that I would. I introduced myself, said I had two sons, and trailed off immediately as I looked at the young woman before me, tears quietly streaming down her face. She should have been celebrating, cradling her new baby with family and friends gushing around her. This was all wrong. "I just want to help however I can." It was quiet a little longer, then the social worker had me walk back out.
A chat with the doctor and a car seat check, and we (the social worker and myself) were on our way. And we were a sight. I had bought a convertible car seat that was good for newborns, not a bucket seat, so a baby couldn't be actually carried in it. So, the social worker carried a car seat, and I carried Pterodactyl in a blanket. No woman in a wheelchair or proud dad carrying a bucket car seat with a baby inside. Not to mention the racial mismatch. Everyone gave us a look. I wanted a sign that said, "I'm not stealing this baby!"
And she came to live in our home, our first foster child.