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).