With every nook and cranny cleaned and buffed and polished, we were ready for our home visit and inspection. The social worker met with us for a couple of hours one evening. She talked with my husband and I and with each of the children about being a foster family.
We discussed parenting styles, conflict management, structure, daily activities, discipline. She measured each room of the house making sure that each bedroom met the qualifications for safety. She checked smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. She didn’t check for dust in the corners but there wasn’t any. Finally she asked for our references. And as she talked with each of them, they also were asked to give other references on our behalf.
It would be several months after we received our actual foster care license before we heard another thing. I thought foster homes were in such short supply that we’d get a call the day the ink dried on the license. It was not to be.
Then one afternoon in mid-July I got a call from a social worker I didn’t know, while I was at work. She wanted to know how many foster children were currently in our home. I told her that we hadn’t had a placement yet. That was to change with this call. After she gave me two names and a very brief overview of the situation I told her I’d contact my husband and call her back in 15 minutes.
I dialed. The phone rang. When he answered, I said, “It’s a boy and it’s a girl. We’ve been called to take a foster placement.” We had initially signed up to take teenagers because our own children were teenagers at the time. However, that wasn’t what we were asked to do. In fact, the girl was 18 months old and her brother was 27 days old. And they need an answer in less than 12 minutes. He could hear the anticipation over the phone. He said, “if you think we can manage babies, then alright.” I called the social worker back and said yes we could take this placement. She made arrangements to drop the children off at my office in three hours.
My teenage daughter answered when I called back. I told her we’d need the crib set up from the storeage loft. And the baby swing too. She was very excited and enlisted her two brothers to help set things up.
At 4:30 a car pulled up outside my office. A tall bonde young woman got out of the car. She gathered the children from the back seat and came inside. I was astonished at the situation. I knew that this day was some mother’s worst nightmare. I knew that these babies were in a terrible situation and needed a safe loving place to be. At 18 months old Maggie is a big brown-eyed, energetic toddler. She came inside the door and immediately clutched my leg, holding on tight. I reached around and lifted her up. The social worker put down the car seat. Baby Hunter was sound asleep.
The social worker sat down and gave me a very brief overview of the situation. A mid-twenty something mother of three with post-partum depression and issues with alcohol has voluntarily placed her two youngest children into foster care for 28 days. Her oldest daughter is with a grandparent. Our foster home is the closest to the mother’s home about 8 miles away. This will allow for frequent visits with the children. The social worker has allowed the mother to call us once a day to ask about the children.
That was it. The social worker thanked me for accepting the placement and she left. I gathered Maggie, the diaper bag and the baby. There was a houseful of love and curiosity waiting for us. And waiting they were. Three heads were peering through the livingroom curtains as I pulled in the driveway. Before I had the car in park, they were standing next to it. I rolled the window down and told them all to take a deep breath and calm down. My oldest son went around to the back seat and upened the door and unbuckled Maggie’s car seat. My daughter carried the baby inside. My husband arrived to carry in the diaper bag. His first words were,
“I hope you know what we’re doing.”