The Call. Capital “T” capital “C”. I feel like we have been officially initiated into the world of foster care. Two and a half years after our first conversation about adopting from foster care we received our first Call. I know I should keep the outcome until the very end to keep you scrolling through my paragraphs but that’s a bit cruel for the people closest to us. So I will begin by explaining that yes, we received our first Call, but it was not The Call for us.
On Friday morning I had the rare chance to have a conversation with Mr. Something before we both left for work. Generally he is already out of the house by the time my eyes are squinting open. He asked me if I had heard anything from Licensing Rep 3 lately. Our Tiny Human Project had once again settled quietly into the corner of our lives, not quite ignored, but unnoticed for some time. It’s like when you call for your dog because you realize that the house is quiet and you haven’t seen him for a bit, only to discover that he’s been sleeping quietly under your chair the whole time. I told him that I hadn’t but I was meaning to email her to ask about getting the hours I spent on my CPR certification put on record with the agency. That was it, we were on our way, but it was the most we had discussed it in weeks.
Cut to about an hour later. I was well on my way to work and my phone rings. I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t answer it. (Being introverted I seldom answer my phone when I do know the number if I’m not mentally prepared to have a conversation. It’s a thing. Look it up.) A few minutes later I noticed that the unknown number had left a voice message. I selected it and a voice filled me car, “Hi, Mrs. Something, my name is Important Guy I supervise Rep 3 at Your Agency and I was hoping to get in touch with you guys as DCFS has two kids that we would like the two of your to consider being placed with you…”
*Ding* Text message from Mr. Something, “Call me when you can”
Sure enough, Mr. Something had answered the call from Important Guy and spoken to him about the children that had been in DCFS custody since the night before. As he filled me in on the details my mind reeled, I’m pretty sure I blew a stop sign. Lesson one from this experience: Next time PULL OVER! Luckily I was close to work, parked, and hunkered down in my car as he filled me in. The age of one of the siblings was perfectly in our decided range but the other was very very young, practically brand new. Our home isn’t even set up or equipped for an infant considering that we only have one kid’s room. (Our state doesn’t allow infants to share rooms with older children, even siblings.) Also, details about their home situation left us and Important Guy feeling like this was a solid foster case and not likely to lead toward adoption.
Even with those two major strikes against the case for us, my heart twisted in ways I didn’t know were possible. There was the shock in knowing that Mr. Something and I were making a decision to potentially change our lives forever there on the phone in our respective work parking lots. Even after two and a half years of preparing for this moment I never once realized how far away he would feel if The Call came when we weren’t together. I’ve imagined through the logistics of it, who could watch my students as I step out to discuss the details with Mr. Something on the phone, where in my building I could duck into to have this most private of conversations, etc. But the enormity of making this decision without being able to hold his hand, look into his eyes, read his feelings and emotions beyond the words he’s saying was like a blow to the gut.
Lesson number two of this experience: We are completely in tune with each other. We were exactly on the same page with every thought about this case. In step beside each other despite being 25 miles away. Mr. Something said he’d call Important Guy back and let him know of our decision. I hung up the phone and let the silence of my car surround me.
Now, I’m not a very religious person, spiritual, yes, but not religious. However, as I sat there and began to cry I also began to pray. I prayed for those two sweet children that had been taken from the only home they knew the night before. I prayed to calm their fears knowing that the first stop after being taken from home is the hospital for full body examinations. I prayed for their mother and the one single decision she needed to make to get her babies back. In an instant their story blazed into mine like a sudden lick of flame coming to life from quiet embers long glowing among the coals of our Tiny Human Project. I felt their warmth and I felt their hurt.
As I collected myself and prepared to go into my building, to face a day with twenty one children that got to sleep in their own beds last night, I was absolutely overwhelmed. But there’s no room for personal drama when you’re a teacher. (Especially on a day when an outside provider was coming in for an hour to observe you and a particular student.) In a complete fog I joined my colleagues in the teachers’ lounge for our traditional Friday breakfast together and quietly told my teammate what had just gone down. Not eating, I pulled up a text for Mr. Something and typed, “I wish I could hug you.” When my phone started to ring. He was calling me. I ducked out of the noisy lounge and back into the classroom.
“I talked to Important Guy and even though it’s not how DCFS operates he was wondering that if he placed the infant, would we take the other?”
My stomach fell to the floor. Very early on Mr. Something and I decided to be open to siblings because all too often they are separated to make them easier to place or adopt. We were horrified by this and vowed to work against that practice. Now here we were, dealing with our first Call and we were being asked to take part in that very situation. I couldn’t possibly care for a child knowing that their sibling could be with them if only we had been prepared differently or felt differently about a wider age range. Thankfully he wasn’t officially asking us, it was only an “if… then…” In talking to Important Guy, Mr. Something shared a bit of our background, our preferences, our story. Although told otherwise many times, we were worried that this first “No” from us would be a strike against us, but Important Guy explained that he would rather us be honest about what we are comfortable taking on instead of saying, “yes” out of guilt and having a failed placement. We like Important Guy and I have since saved his number so next time I will actually answer his call.
Shortly after the students arrived and my life began to settle into the familiar busy tempo of a second grade teacher, a student from my teammate’s class came in with a yellow sticky note. On it she had written, “No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.” -Someone Wise. I tacked it to the bulletin board by my desk like a shield to strengthen my resolve and turned to face my day.
After a long, exhausting Friday, I finally came home to Mr. Something and we got to have the moment that we both desperately needed earlier in the day. We ordered a pizza and prepared to settle in on the couch for an evening of hockey. My phone rang and I glanced at it. Instead of a number I didn’t recognize it simply said “No Caller ID.” Okay, sketchy. Probably some salesperson calling from the other side of the world. I silenced it. “Haha, wouldn’t it be funny if they were calling to give us more kids!”
Hmm, No Caller ID left a voicemail.
“Hi, this message is for Mrs. Something. This is Some Girl from Your Agency. I have a placement for twin very very young babies so I’m just calling to see if you are willing to have them placed with you…”
We had to laugh. It was slightly ridiculous. I’m now a bit afraid of my phone because as of Friday, every time it rang someone was trying to give us babies. No babies was the original thought that even lead us to this journey. Everyone loves babies. Those babies were snug and warm in someone else’s home by Friday night, I’m sure of it. As for us, we were asleep by 8:30.
Although on the surface, nothing has changed, I feel as if we have arrived at a new place. We worked through our first (and second!) calls for placements and even though they weren’t right for us, we grew, learned, and will be ready for the one that does change our lives. In the meantime, please don’t call me, texts are just fine. 🙂