I remember receiving what must have been a dozen phone calls over the course of a week… just waiting for a placement. I distinctly remember becoming licensed mid-April and wanting to wait a few weeks before opening our home to accept placement. Our anniversary is at the end of April and we thought, “Well, this might be our last date night for a while,” so we took it! And with Mother’s Day right around the corner, I honestly didn’t think I would be up to celebrating my first Mother’s Day in this new-to-us world of fostering. So, we chose to set the date for the following weekend in mid-May.
We waited… and waited… and waited. I thought, “Surely, there is a child out there for us. During training classes, we heard nonstop about the great need for willing families.” Our placement preferences were set fairly wide, with the exception that we wanted to set our age range to infants.
One week, and saying yes to multiple infants, felt like forever. The baby who finally made his way into our home was a boy we said yes to on a Friday morning. They informed us he was just a few days old, but born prematurely and drug-exposed, and needed to stay in the hospital one more night due to feeding issues. We were looking forward to driving out to the hospital Saturday morning to pick him up!
Thankfully we already had all the baby necessities on hand. The nursery was stocked, bottles were washed and sterilized, and the car seat was secure in the car. We hardly got any sleep Friday night anxiously waiting for the call that would come Saturday morning to let us know he was being discharged. But, nothing. We heard nothing.
We figured we would wait it out through the weekend before we said yes to any more calls. As I said, many calls came, we said yes to most, and we NEVER heard back from any of them. Most of the time I had to call to see if a child would be arriving at our doorstep or not.
Finally, on Monday afternoon, a full week after being on the list for placement, we received a phone call from a social worker. “Hi, baby boy is being discharged from the hospital in an hour. Would you like to come pick him up or have us drive him to you?” We opted for them to drive him to our house only because we were right in the middle of grocery shopping and the hospital was about an hour away. We chose to take the extra time to get home, put groceries away, and make sure we were ready to welcome this new little baby into our home.
And just like that, about an hour later, two social workers and a little 5lb baby showed up at our front door. They walked in, handed us a care package from the hospital that contained a couple packs of 2oz formula bottles with twist-on nipples, a couple burp cloths and a blanket donated to the hospital by a group of volunteers who sew items for babies, some other miscellaneous items, and the best part of the package – HOSPITAL DISCHARGE PAPERS! If you foster infants and you can get your hands on these – it’s like being in possession of gold bricks. This gave us a boatload of information and answers to questions we (and many health care professionals) had!
They were in our house all of two minutes dropping off his belongings, placing him in our arms, and moving on to the next case. It literally felt like the stork passed by our house that day and just dropped off a baby at our home.
Being new [foster] parents, this was extremely overwhelming. We had a brand new, teeny, tiny, premature little stranger in our home, and instructions to simply care for him until a caseworker reaches out to us.
First, we stared at each other, and back at him… and back at each other… and back at him. We chuckled as we said, “Well, here we go!” And within ten minutes we were head over heels in love with this newborn baby. Full head of black hair and all.
We wrapped him in a swaddle blanket we had on hand and loved on him until help could come! And by help I mean one the best parts of our foster tribe – my mom! That first week home with this new baby we called both our moms a couple dozen times and since my mom lived close, we asked her to come over often in that first week! I can assume this is very helpful to most new moms, regardless of how the little baby comes into your home.
When my mom got off work, she and her husband came over. I honestly can’t even remember if we ate dinner that night. The guys stayed home while my mom and I ran to Target for baby boy preemie size onesies. Our nursery was stocked with just about every size onesie, in gender neutral colors, except for size preemie. I didn’t anticipate the possibility of getting a baby that small. We picked up few matching burp cloths and a couple pacifiers, then hurried back home to the little baby waiting for us. We finally got that nasty spit-up filled onesie he came to us in off and gave him his first bath. Boy was I glad to have my mom there! Everything you do with a small baby is intimidating as new parents. We stuck him in that warm bath and he SCREAMED! I was certainly startled by it and did not expect that reaction to a nice, supposed-to-be-soothing bath. We gave him the fastest bath ever and wrapped him up tight in a towel and got some fresh jammies on him. We swaddled him right up again and just held him the rest of the evening.
He slept in a bassinet in our room that first night. This little guy had a lot of feeding issues as a baby, and that first night caught us by surprise when we were finally brave enough to try laying him down for the night. Shortly after we laid him down he began projectile vomiting and choking. We quickly grab him, flipped him over, and cleared everything from his air passages. We couldn’t get Adam’s mom on the phone quick enough (one of the other best parts of our foster tribe!). She is a nurse and, at the time, working the night shift at the hospital so she was our nighttime go-to for “Parenting A Newborn” questions, and with the crazy quick traumatic experience we all just endured she was the one we wanted to get ahold of for reassurance we did everything right and we were capable to keeping this baby alive.
Again – all the pressure of caring for a newborn, who’s not yours, in foster care, and is very tiny. Pressure. Before we knew it, we had survived our first night as foster parents, and so did baby boy!
Once we got into a routine, we felt much more comfortable. We loved on this baby and put into practice all that we had learned about caring for a drug-exposed newborn. I was thankful we were prepared with most of our baby essentials, and some other miscellaneous items especially helpful for fostering an infant in foster care. Click HERE to see our previous post on what we had on hand for fostering newborns.
Are you a foster or adoptive parent? Check out these Foster Care and Adoption Resources you can print to help your family stay organized and to help you document the important facts, memories, and milestones in your child’s life. These resources can be printed right from your home computer and used instantly!