Her bright blue eyes peered up at me. A look of confusion, as she was handed off at my doorstep.
“This is all she came with. Due to the pandemic, we haven’t been able to meet or get the documents in order yet, but I will keep you posted.” The worker shoved a plastic bag in my hands and left.
I ushered her inside. Her little legs wobbled through the door.
“Do you want a snack?” She nodded. Four years old, I’d soon find out she was never potty trained, lived on a diet of mountain dew and canned ravioli, and only knew the words “da da” and “ma ma”. Her mother and father fell into heroin addiction, and this was the second time this little one had been removed from the home.
My husband and I had tried to conceive for years. But it was not in our cards. Our church friends had become foster parents, and had given me a pamphlet from the department. My husband worked in substance abuse and mental health, having seen child after child go through the care system. I felt it was our destiny. After a year of a process, background checks, classes, applications, home checks, we finally had been approved; and not even two days later, a bright little girl appeared in our care.
Then I panicked.
I had never raised a child and immediately called my friend, Brianna.
“Knock, knock!” Brianna walked through the door with her six-year-old.
“Aww hi! Aren’t you just the sweetest little thing,” Brianna was a natural. She glowed. I wondered if I would ever have that glow..that mom glow.
“Did you check for lice? What did she come with? What’s her name?” Brianna started buzzing around. I hadn’t even thought of checking for lice.
“I remember when Miss Thang over here got lice from school,” she gestured towards her daughter, “Did you know they don’t send them home now? Kids getting lice, coming home, treating it, which is wicked expensive, to send them back and they get it again.” Brianna started looking through her hair.
“She only came with the blanket and this,” it was one change of clothes. There was no underwear, no diapers, no toys, no sippy cups.
“Well, don’t you worry Sam. I brought over all bunches of toys, and blankies, and.. Well I loaded the truck. You have a pen and paper?” Brianna was a talker. I grabbed a pen.
“Goldfish, sippy cup, maybe a couple different kinds of binkies. I can see her teeth are forward so she’s either a thumb sucker or still on a bink. We’ll work on that. Hmmm.. pull-ups get the overnight kind and the regular. I’d also say a size..” Brianna kept rambling off a shopping list as she floated around the house. She walked and put her clothes and blanket into the washer and continued to yell from the washroom.
“Where’s her car seat?” Brianna looked around.
“She didn’t come with one.”
“Add it to the list. The top of the list. I’ll help you install it when you get back.” Brianna paused. She could see my face.
“I know you are worried you don’t know what you’re doing. I know you’re scared you’re going to make mistakes and make wrong decisions. But that’s how you know.. well that’s how you know you’re going to be a great parent. If you weren’t worried, that would be a problem. Sam, you’re going to do great.”
Eight months later, the parents had lost custody and the social worker asked me and my husband if we were interested in adoption. Our foster care license was only good for short term placement. We moved forward with adoption and are so thankful that our long journey of watching this little angel walk through life is just beginning.
*Names and specific details have been changed to protect the privacy of this family.*