In 2014, the Hubs and I embarked on a journey – to become parents. We decided to go through certification to become foster parents through what can be best described as an obstacle course from hell.
Parenting classes were held in Newark, twice a week from 6 to 10 p.m., then a long drive home after putting in a full day of work. Then the “checks” began. Background check, home inspections, well inspections, fire safety inspections, physicals, health certificates for our pets, letters of recommendation, financial reports, and continuing education classes. It seemed once we had everything completed, there was another task, chore, or form needing completion. It was seemingly endless and frustrating. The daily news stories spewed forth tragic tales of babies and toddlers being killed or abandoned to die by parents who had no interest in those precious lives. I was filled with rage and anxiety.
We filled out the 20-page form asking us about what kind of child we would be willing to accept. Age range? Ethnicity? Skin-tone? Disability? Terminally ill? Pregnant teen? Fire-starter? Sexual abuse survivor? Sexual abuse perpetrator? Mental-health issues? If you ever want to feel like a heartless creep, complete this checklist. This form, along with the documentary “Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child,” made us question our sanity. But something kept telling me it was the right thing to do – so we pressed on.
We had stated on our parenting applications we were foster to adopt. We did not want a revolving door for kids, we wanted – forever. We also requested a little girl under the age of three.
When we received Princess Buttercup, a perfect and beautiful six-month girl, I thought every blessing I had ever asked for had been given. We loved her completely and freely. We thought she was going to be our forever girl. Nine months later, she left our lives and was returned to her mother. We have not seen her since. That Mother’s Day, her mother told me to never contact her again, because we were painful reminders. We went through the next eight months in a haze of grief and sorrow. We took down the crib, bagged up clothes, toys and books.
We eventually decided to not pursue another child. We just did not think we could deal with that loss, nor could any ever replace our princess. The very next day, a caseworker called and asked if we would consider a baby boy. Like a coward, I left that decision to the Hubs.
Thankfully, he said yes. I sped from the office, driving straight to the hospital, where I was directed to the maternity ward (who knew we had one.) Our caseworker and the Hubs were calmly sitting there, waiting for the nurse to bring Sparky out. In the next moment, this tiny shriveled being arrived in a carrier. He was all sharp cheekbones and wrinkles with skin so delicate, I thought it would tear. He had on a tiny knitted cap and a sleeper that some kind souls had made and donated to the hospital for children who had nothing. I dropped to my knees, bawling. It was grief, fear, love and a fierce protectiveness streaming down my face and onto my shirt. I couldn’t stop.
That week, we slept on the floor next to his crib. He was our son. Our days were filled with all the moments and emotions every parent experiences, but they were underlain with fear that we could possibly lose him.
His story goes on from there, but this week brought a new chapter. On Tuesday, we formally adopted him. It has taken more than two years for this to happen in our five-year journey. My heart is full.