Once upon a time there was a foster-family-in-waiting. The family consisted of one mother, one father, and one teenage daughter. They had offered to provide care for school age children.
One day, the phone rang. The foster mother answered it and spoke quietly for a moment. “Honey,” she said to her husband, “what would you think of fostering a baby?”
“Well,” he responded, “I think someone would have to get up in the middle of the night. But that’s OK. We could do it!”
“Honey,” she said again, “what would you think of fostering TWO babies?”
“Well,” he responded, “I think TWO someones would have to get up in the middle of the night. But that’s OK. We could do it!” He smiled at his wife and paused for a moment. “Aren’t you going to ask about a third baby? There ARE three of us, you know!”
“No,” she said, returning his smile. “There are only two. They’re twins, six weeks old.”
With in a couple of days, the twins were installed in the spare room. The case worker who brought them to the home talked at length to the foster parents about the children and their circumstances. The mother was a high school senior, carried away with the romance of her sweethearts’ new military uniform. When her pregnancy was discovered, he had already moved on to a new base and new girlfriend. The young woman believed herself capable, with the help of her parents, of caring for a baby and continuing her education. However, when she unexpectedly delivered twins, she was forced to re-evaluate and made the difficult decision to place her babies for adoption. Her caseworker, believing she was doing the best thing for the mother, neglected to mention that it might be difficult to find a home together for twins. The children’s caseworker asked the foster family to consider this a “permanent foster placement” because “No one adopts twins, and no one adopts redheads, and no one but NO ONE adopts redheaded twins!” So, the foster family settled in and began learning to be a family of 5 instead of 3.
The little boy was a quiet, solemn individual. He was going to be a BIG boy! He was long, and hefty, with a long narrow face topped with dark lustrous red hair. His little sister was his opposite, with a petite frame, a short wide face with a smile from ear to ear, and bright fiery red curls. She “talked” constantly to him or anyone else who would listen, and laughed easily. The family grew to love them and looked forward to the years they expected to spend with the children.
One day, the phone rang, and the case worker told the foster mother to pack the babies’ things because they were being adopted. The foster mother was stunned, and handed the phone to her husband. He spoke quietly for a time and then his wife reclaimed the conversation. She asked questions about the adopting parents, their history, their experience with children...She refused to turn “her babies” over to an inexperienced person she had never met, and who had never seen the children and didn’t know anything about them. As she argued her points, the case worker admitted that there was merit in her position. After some finagling, a time was set up for the adoptive parents to meet the babies and the foster family so that information about the infants’ schedules and preferences might be shared. Conditions were placed on the meeting: the adoptive names of the children would have to be used by the foster family, and no identifying information could be given.
When the meeting day arrived, the foster family waited nervously for the adoptive parents’ arrival. The babies were dressed in matching outfits, and sat happily in their playpen, unaware of the drama around them. Finally the sound of a car was heard from the driveway and within minutes the doorbell rang. The foster father opened the door and the case worker entered, followed by the adoptive parents. The mother was first through the door, a petite woman with a short, wide face and a smile from ear to ear, with bright, fiery red curls. The father came next, a tall, hefty man with a long narrow face and dark red hair! After introductions, the mother talked freely and openly while the father provided “background quiet”. The foster family fell in love with them and saw immediately that they would be a perfect family for “their babies”. Against the “rules” of the meeting, the two families managed to privately exchange full names and addresses, although the identifying information about the birth family did remain confidential.
After the adoption, the families kept in touch. The adoptive family attended the foster sister’s wedding a few of years later, and later, still, the funeral of the foster mother. Although they lost touch for awhile, now that the adoptees are adults, they have re-established contact, and share visits and Christmas cards. The adoptees and their parents continue to look and act alike and have a good relationship. Everyone is happy that the caseworker was wrong about “no one but NO ONE adopting redheaded twins”!
HINT: Foster families are the forgotten factor in adoption equations. They provide care and love to children who are “between families”, and many times form very strong attachments to the children under their care.
Foster Care stories abound. We’ve all heard the good ones where the “foster placement” turns into an adoptive one because of the depth of love developed. We’ve also heard the stories of foster care givers who were “only in it for the money”. However, lets not forget that in the majority of cases the foster family walks a very fine line, nurturing and healing the child wounded by life and helping them to prepare for re-entry into the birth family or adoption by strangers.
I, for one, wish I knew the people who cared for me “between families”!
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