January 23, 2014

Great Expectations

The buzz of excitement in our home is so thick I can almost feel it!  A new little one will soon be joining our family, and we are all anxiously awaiting his arrival.  The older ones in the family are sorting through our large stockpile of clothing that we keep just in case - the assortment of sizes, seasons, and genders; and picking out the cutest ones they can find.  I am busy clearing space . . . in the dresser drawers for his belongings, in the kitchen cabinet for his bibs, bottles and baby food, and in my calendar for the many hours that I know his care will require.  His new papa is re-assembling the crib and re-installing the car seat – tasks he’s done so many times, he can practically do them in his sleep!  And the younger one keeps asking over and over again, “When is he coming?”  We are just like any other family who has a baby on the way . . . the arrival of a new foster child is a time of great expectation. 

January 9, 2014

A Tale of Two Mothers

Every time I hear the glass doors slide open, my eyes lift with a twinge of apprehension, wondering if it is her.   Because I had been warned that she would be here today, I have purposely arrived early for this appointment, so that I could check in at the front desk, fill out the necessary paperwork, and get settled in the waiting room before having to face her.

Inevitably, the doors slide open once again, and this time she storms in.   She takes one look at the child – her child - sitting on my lap, and scowls daggers at me before choosing a seat far enough away from me to ensure that we won’t feel the need for small talk.  I  mean, what could we possibly have to say to one another?  In spite of her strongest objections and denials of any wrongdoing, Child Protective Services has taken her child away from her and placed him in foster care.  In my home.  In a white woman’s home!  She is furious that I am caring for her child. Furious that someone somewhere considered me a more “fit” parent than her.  Even though she has never met me, in her mind I am the enemy.

While we are waiting for the child’s name to be called, I discreetly steal glances her way, trying to size her up and form an opinion.  I have been told that she can be confrontational and spiteful, so naturally I am wary.  She is smaller than I expected.  Short and extremely thin, with hands that fidget nervously.  Her tiny braids hang down her back and partially cover her face, a face that might be pretty if it wasn’t so clearly filled with anger.  I know the reasons why her child is in foster care.  I have heard about her faults as a mother.  I have little tolerance for parents who do not properly care for their children.  Why is she angry?  It’s her fault that her child is in foster care.  Even though I have never met her, in my mind she is the enemy.