So, it finally happened...
About 13 months ago, Suzanne and I began taking our classes to become licensed as foster parents. In the meantime, we've had changes in career paths and future plans, and we looked for, bought, and moved into a new house--all of which caused some delay in actually getting our license. In July, we finally had all of our i's dotted and t's crossed and received our license and let our social worker know we were ready (as ready as we were going to be) to receive a placement of a child into our home for foster care.
Last Thursday, it finally happened. Actually, we got a call on Tuesday of last week that there was a newborn girl they wanted to place in our home. We quickly accepted, only to be disappointed when we received another call later on in the day that the doctors in the hospital wanted to keep the baby in care for a little while longer. So, we bided our time and we were happy to hear on Thursday that we could pick up "our" girl that evening.
I want to be careful here because there are some rules regarding privacy that I don't want to break. (That's why I'm not posting a picture here, though I intend to get an e-mail out to friends and family with some pictures.) She was born on September 15. We call her Grace (or Gracie), which is her middle name. She is a tiny little thing, though she was born at a healthy 6 lbs. Alhough she was born at full term, there were issues with her prenatal environment that caused her to come into state custody and our care. But for now, she seems to not be exhibiting as many symptoms as she might. She takes care of the three jobs children her age have: sleeping, eating, pooping. Oh yeah--she is absolutely beautiful.
We're following through with the plan for me to be stay-at-home dad. I'll tell you: being a parent, and maybe especially a first-time parent, is tough, and stressful. Gracie keeps me on my toes preparing bottles, changing diapers, replacing pacifiers, holding, rocking, and cuddling. And I'm never 100% sure that I'm doing things just right or giving her what she wants/needs. As tiring as it is, though, I'm glad I'm doing it. It's definitely worth it. Thankfully, since Suzanne doesn't work until this afternoon, she has let me take some time to get out of the house, so I'm at a coffee shop right now. And honestly, Suzanne does a LOT of the work whenever she's home from work.
We're not sure how long we'll have Gracie. The stated goal at the beginning of almost any foster care placement is reunification of the child with the parent. Mom has a lot of work to do in order to get her life settled, but if she does what she's supposed to do, it is very possible--even probable--that she could get her daughter back. Also, there is a potential "kinship placement" for Gracie, which means there is someone either in the family or a friend of the mom who would be willing to be a foster parent for her. If that happens, Gracie could be moved within a few weeks. If she eventually goes back with mom, that could happen within 6 months to a year and a half. If neither of those happen, we would hope and plan to adopt her, and she would be ours forever.
If you are a person who prays, I'd love for you to pray for Gracie. Pray that she would grow healthy physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Pray that God would always take special care of her and would eventually bring her to Himself in Christ. Although we are not allowed to baptize her, I believe it is not a theological stretch to hold out the hope that children in the care of Christian parents have a special place in God's economy of salvation (Acts 2:39, 1 Corinthians 7:14). I'd love for you to pray for Gracie's mom. Pray that she would find a way to develop the discipline and skills necessary to become a responsible citizen and parent. Pray that she would have the best interests of her children in the forefront of her mind. Pray that God would draw her to Himself in Christ, for she truly needs a change of her heart and not just her habits. And I'd love for you to pray for us. Pray that we would develop wisdom as parents, nurturing Gracie in all those ways I mentioned above. Pray that we would be instruments of grace in the foster care system as we interact with the team and mom. Pray that we would not get so busy in the process of parenting that we forget to rely on and turn to our Father in heaven for the strength and guidance we desperately need. And pray that in the midst of much uncertainty, we would remain ever thankful for the blessing that each moment with Gracie is.
boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."