You get a call. You get whatever details are available (they’re usually quite few, and they may be wrong). You accept. Now what?
The time between the placement call and when we met the babies coming into our home has varied quite a bit. With our first baby, referred to here as Sweaty Spaghetti, we got notified about him Thursday, and picked him up Saturday. For Baby #2, Little Rascal, they called us about him around 1pm, we went and picked him up from the office at 2:45pm the same day. Our newest addition, yet to be nicknamed, will have given us a little over 24 hours to prepare to meet him.
Regardless of how long we may have until we pick up our next placement, I tend to follow the same steps. First, there is the paperwork that is emailed to us that we sign, scan and email back to the social worker. This paperwork proves that we have a legal right to care for the child, and usually has a few more details about the child’s case. I appreciate the information, but have learned, even with only a few placements, that it is either overly-vague or incredibly daunting, and the real story might be quite different. There’s a certain fluidity when we say yes. We know we are saying yes to a set of known facts, but moreso we are saying yes to all of the unknowns that come after that. And there is certainly no shortage of those!
Next, since all of our little ones have been baby boys, preparing our home physically for them has looked much the same. Check what size diapers we have, pull a few outfits out of storage in a couple sizes, pack our diaper bag. Pull the bottles out of the cupboard, and put them back in the basket on the counter. I do as many chores as time allows because I know that my home will suffer as we spend time getting to know the new little one in our home. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming and tidying up. Then, if we have time, comes a grocery/target run. Pick up snacks that are easy to eat with one hand, a can of formula if we know what the baby is currently eating, and bottle nipples or pacifiers in the correct size/style if the new placement differs from the supplies we already have at home.
I love to feel in control. Look at the laundry piles disappearing! Clean sheets are in the crib, diaper bag is packed. I’ve got it all together.
Well, sort of.
But behind the scenes, each new placement unearths a huge pile of feelings and questions. I feel excitement over being invited into a precious child’s life, eager to meet him and get to know his story. I worry that he will have needs I cannot meet, areas of care that I am not equipped to handle. I wonder if his parents will accept me, and how much conflict there will be between the state’s plan for his future and what I might think is best. I worry that I am in over my head. I worry that I’ve already fallen in love with him, and I haven’t even met him yet. I brace myself for the questions, appointments, assessments and visits. And then before we know it we hit the ground running.
Here we go again!