The Waiting Game by John E. Stack

Back in January, I posted a writing about having to say goodbye to “Bill,” the baby boy who is now a toddler that we have in foster care.  Bill came into our lives when he was two months of age.  He was born at 26 weeks, was 12 inches long and weighed about one pound twelve ounces.  He was the smallest baby we had ever seen, much less taken care of. 

We knew that he was extremely attached to my wife and I and that placement was going to be difficult.  He had been in our family for around eighteen months and we were also very bonded to him.  Bonding is very important to a newborn.  If they don’t bond with a caregiver, then it will be almost impossible for them to bond with an adopted family.  So, the children we have in foster care are treated just like they are one of our own.

Now it is the middle of June.  Bill has now been with us for 23 months.  Every month when they were supposed to have the case heard by the judge, it was continued until the next month.  And continued, and continued.  Last month the courts shut down to close out the year and for vacations.  Now his court case is supposed to happen in July.  I can’t mention the particulars, but Bill will reside in our home until the court makes a decision.  This will be around six more months.

No one seems to think about the children who are put in this type of situation.  Not only do they lose contact with their birth families, but then they have to be separated from the people that have been their family since they left the hospital. 

Bill will not accept the change so easily.  If the courts cared about the welfare of the children, this mess would be resolved within about twelve to fifteen months.  Much after this, the baby will suffer trauma from separation and feelings of abandonment.  More than likely Bill will have to undergo therapy of some type to make it through the full transition.

People believe that babies do not remember things that happen because they are so young.  Not true.  We fostered a newborn baby girl for about 10 days until she was placed with her adopted parents.  We had received her at three days. Around a year later we were invited to her one-year birthday party.  Her mom got her up from her nap after we arrived and explained that she was starting to be afraid of strangers, so not to be disappointed if she started crying.  As soon as the baby heard my wife’s voice, she lifted her head and went straight to my wife.  She had remembered my wife’s voice a year after she left our home and she was only two weeks old at the time.  Yes, babies remember.

We’ve thought about adopting Bill, but we don’t believe that would be fair to him due to our ages – we are both in our sixties.  That would also mean we would need someone to take legal responsibility for him if something were to happen to us.

So, again we wait.  We wait on a court system that is not really concerned about the children as long as they are in a safe place. Our home is a safe place, but not a permanent safe place.  Also, to adopt Bill would mean that we would probably have to stop foster parenting, and we do not want to do that, yet.

I just wish that the court system would hire enough judges so that cases would not have to be continued multiple times. I wish they cared about other’s children like they care about their own.

Right now, I’m frustrated.  Frustrated at the system.  Bill has brought a lot of joy into our home.  He is funny and a lot smarter than most think.  Do I regret any of it? No, not in the least.  We fully believe that we are doing exactly what God wants us to do.

Have you ever considered being a foster parent or adopting?  I encourage you to check it out.  It is a tough job, but the blessings are uncountable.  Pray about it and take a step out in faith.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure. Also, to be released sometime this summer: Cody and the Great Zoo Escape, and Secret Lives (of middle school teachers).  


Filed under John Stack, life, writing

7 responses to “The Waiting Game by John E. Stack

  1. I have enjoyed reading from the inside out, with this post. Very enlightening. Perhaps, rather than to hire more judges, the system will be properly revamped with integrity, towards humanity. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. an incredibly moving piece of writing. my mother and father used to foster children in Scotland, long before i was born. it has a huge impact on the foster parents and the entire foster family. apparently, my older brother had said ‘mom, why do our babies always have to go away?’ – it’s a life-affirming experience (according to my mom) and a life-changing one. enriching, and heart-wrenching. but you must remember that you are, ultimately, doing good for the little babies. it’s just this fucked-up Draconian system that doesn’t seem to support human life and its worth. thank you for sharing. you are good people xx much love, from Scotland.

  3. It’s a wonderful thing you do for children, John. At 40, when I realized I could not get pregnant, we thought about adoption, but the cost was prohibitive for us at the time. We never thought about foster care. During the eighties it seemed to have negative connotations. Now, after hearing some of your experiences, I wish we had thought about it more deeply. One of my regrets is that I never had a child of my own. I hope you and your family can at least stay involved in his life which would help him. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts.

  4. You are so right about everything. Here in Massachusetts it is the same. And adopting a baby? That is far too long of a reply. Where is the interest of the child? -Jennie-

  5. The system hasn’t changed in favor of the child during my lifetime. I’m 73 now and was in the foster system until I was 4 1/2. It took me years to adjust to the constant shuffling from foster home to foster home–7 in all.
    I applaud you and your wife for the wonderful work you do. You are a true blessing to “Bill,” and all the other children you have fostered. Bless you!

  6. Whatever happens, he’ll remember he had a good start in life. Just wish the system would put more effort into building on that start. No wonder you’re frustrated.

  7. My daughter adopted my Chinese granddaughter when she was 18 months old. Prior to that she lived with her parents for six months before someone told the govt. (At the time they were only allowed one child) So, at six months old they placed her in an orphanage. At twelve months old she was put in a foster home in China. At 18 months old my daughter and her husband went to China to get her. They spoke no Chinese and the little thing was terrified. In the beginning, the little darling would wake up screaming in the middle of the night. She is twelve now and a happy, bright, loving child. My daughter keeps in touch with the mother and foster parents. My granddaughter said she doesn’t remember much, except she always felt loved. God bless all of you foster parents that are good, supportive, loving and kind to these sometimes forsaken children.

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