Nine years ago today I was at work when the phone rang. The call was from the lovely social worker who had done our home study when we applied to become foster parents. My husband and I had just finished her MAPP Training classes the night before. We were now official foster parents.
“Judy, we have two little sisters who we are desperate to keep together,” she said. “They are 5 months old and 17 months old. Would you take them into your home?” I immediately called my husband and phoned her back. “Yes! We would love to open our home to two little sisters.”
“We’ll drop them off at your house in an hour,” she said. “They’ve already been to the doctor and are ready for placement.” “Can I have two hours?” I asked. “I don’t have car seats, high chairs, a crib or any diapers. I need to go pick up my daughter from school. We’ll go shopping on our way home.”
I picked up my 12 year old daughter and told her she was going to be a big sister in a few hours. We drove over to Toys R Us and walked toward the Diaper Wall. Luckily there was a woman standing there who looked like she knew what she was doing. I hadn’t been the parent of an infant for 12 years. I turned to her and asked, “Five months old and seventeen months old?” She smiled and told my daughter to go get another shopping cart. Then she guided us through the store, loading us up with all of the infant/toddler products we needed to welcome the girls to our home. Luckily I owned a specialty toy store so the Play Room in our house was ready and waiting.
We arrived home and removed all of our bags from the car just in time. We looked up and saw the social workers enter the driveway. My husband’s car drove in a few seconds later. We walked up to the social worker. She asked my daughter to open the door for a gorgeous little seventeen month old who looked
up with a bright smile and big brown eyes. “Mom, I think I just fell in love,” I heard as I opened the door on my side of the car and looked into the face of a beautiful little five month old baby girl.
That moment in time is frozen in my memory, just like the births of my 27 and 21 year olds. Memorable and life changing, joyous and profound. On that day nine years ago, I began a new life’s journey with two beautiful little sisters as my teachers and guides. Along the way, my life has been tremendously enriched.
As I watched the girls horse back riding last week, looking so strong and confident in their saddles, I remembered all of the times we said goodnight to the horses when they were little. I remembered the day we went to Drumlin Farm and they fed the skunk a worm they dug up in the potato patch. I remembered the way they leapt into my arms as I stood in the swimming pool, making chocolate chip cookies, and all of the baths they took in the kitchen sink.
As we celebrate this nine year anniversary I am filled with gratitude for the girls, their family, and all that they have taught me. They have inspired me to bring innovation and change into the world of child welfare. They have encouraged me to think outside of the foster care box. They have cheered me on as I raise money to create new national models, collaborate with others to launch innovative programs, and encourage the world to find their lives worthy of investment.
Tonight when I see the first star in the sky, I will send up a wish for all of our children who experience foster care – a wish that they will each have caring adults in their lives who are paying attention to the lessons they have to teach us.Then I will send up a prayer of thanksgiving.