Today two people were carried out of my door and loaded safely into a white mini van and driven to a new home. All of their worldly possessions loaded in a cardboard box. All of the worldly possessions which they gathered over the last ten months. You see these two people came to Doreen and I ten months ago with the clothes on their backs, a few diapers, a stuffed animal and some formula. Kaylee was the ripe old age of 18 months, beautiful doe eyes always with a sheen of want. Jeremiah was just five weeks old, a new person ripe with possibility.
Doreen took on the role of the major nurturer seeing to their day to day needs. Food, clothing, fun, and loads of love. Arranging for early intervention for Kaylee who didn’t speak but expressed herself with what she obviously knew screams and aggression. Finding the right formula for Jeremiah and making sure he was safe and warm (love and cuddles not a problem in our family). She managed all their affairs with the State’s Division of Youth and Family Sevices (DYFS), with it’s overburdened workers and a Judicial system that minds trends in children’s welfare rather than minding the welfare of individual children. I made myself as domestically useful as possible which was extremely limited by my career since at the time of their arrival I was in rehearsal for the Broadway production of Motown, The Musical. I had been given the lead Stage Manager position on very short notice after my colleague had decided he could not continue with the project. It was a job that was often all consuming.
Our children, Olivia, Cooper and Ruby, presented both challenge and support in this journey. They loved the extra big family. Cooper and Ruby insisted on carrying Jeremiah everywhere and Olivia immediately took on the role of interpreter for Kaylee, she couldn’t be bothered with Jeremiah who’s baby status held no interest. The three of them were also immediately tortured by the attention that these two sweet babies took away from them. Suddenly there were bedtime books for Kaylee who after a book comforted herself by screaming herself to sleep. Cooper shared bedtime with “Jer Jer” which was tricky for a boy who relies so heavily on routine. Somehow all of these new challenges were muted by the joy we had as a family. Grocery bills skyrocketed, the ability to get up and go decreased by a good forty percent but still my family was happy and our two little additions were learning to smile and play. We were a family of five and thrilled to be so.
The next ten months continued to roll by with a family vacation to Myrtle beach, pool visits, park visits, fighting, friends visiting, braces, school starting, homework, day trips to farms, holidays, hospital visits for Jer’s less than impressive lungs coupled with a very impressive case of reflux, birthday celebrations, new cousin Benjamin’s arrival, Kaylee’s therapies to catch her up after a first year propped up in front of a television, and lots of bedtimes. There were a variety of mixed signals from the state regarding the fate of our foster babies. We had no idea if we were adopting or returning to family, we were just living in the moment. Then one day, about a month ago, we got a call from the children’s case worker. Kaylee and Jeremiah’s birth mom requested that her children be fostered by a foster family that attends the same church she attended. Doreen being the rational foster parent began the painful process of transitioning the children, speaking with the intended foster parents about the children’s needs and working through the paperwork with the state. Doreen was not only doing this for the two foster children but also for our three children so they understood what was happening. I lived happily in my bubble of denial, giving these two little babies cuddles and love as if they were my own. My brain listened to what was happening but my heart, which rules my life solidly, ignored all of the signs that were in front of me.
When I loaded that baby boy and girl in that car and watched my son Cooper give Jeremiah a final kiss goodbye I had to excuse myself, ran to my room and had a deep cry. The pain I felt was so intense and lingers in my mind. Kaylee and Jeremiah mean so much to me and because of that I need to move on with faith that they will be loved by their new family and grow happily. I do wonder as Doreen and I move forward fostering more of these angels that need to be loved how I will embrace them? Will I let my head be involved? Probably not. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.