I remember the first time I met my children as if it were yesterday. I didn’t know they were my children then. I just knew they were someone’s children. Someone’s children who were coming to my house to stay for a little while. Maybe a few days, maybe a month, maybe a year. The thought that they might stay forever hadn’t even crossed my mind.
I walked out to the minivan to meet them. The caseworker was holding the little girl in her arms. I was instantly surprised by how tiny she was. She was so much smaller then what I had pictured a one year old to look like. She looked at me and smiled a big gummy baby smile. I looked around for the 3 year old little boy. He had already made his way to the front steps and was ready to go inside. As I approached, he quickly opened the door for me. He didn’t make eye contact as he stood there with one hand in his mouth so that he could suck his thumb, and the other hand firmly holding the door. “Thank you!” I said to him as I passed, to which he starred down harder at his feet. I could sense his nervousness, and hoped he couldn’t sense mine.
When we got inside I felt lost as to what to do next. There were a few things the caseworker needed signed before she left so we sat down at the table. “Do you want a snack?” I asked the little boy. He didn’t look up from the ground, but walked over with his hand outreached. I placed a small container of goldfish in it. He put the other hand up. “You’re hungry for two? Okay.” I handed him a second container. He slunk away to the other side of the room and started feeding his baby sister. Ugh of course. He wanted to make sure she got a snack too.
The caseworker left. I spent a few minutes staring at the children as they sat in the corner motionless, surrounded by a pile of crushed goldfish. What was I supposed to do next? Why did I become a foster parent anyway? What was I doing? I was completely and totally overwhelmed. “What do I do with them?” I whispered to my boyfriend as if I had never interacted with a child before. “Um, they’re kids. Why don’t you try playing with them?” He suggested. Oh right. Kids. Toys. “Uhhh, do you guys want to play with
something?” I finally asked. No one responded. I took each ones hand and led them to the bedroom. The little boys face lit up the second we entered. He went straight for a Buzz Lightyear action figure.
Something he clearly recognized. “You like Toy Story?” I got a small almost imperceptible nod. “You do huh? Me too.”
The days started to go by. Slow at first as we got into our groove. And then with lightning speed. Soon a month had passed. Then a year. The shy little boy wasn’t so shy. The tiny baby girl wasn’t so tiny. Our caseworker came by one night to ask if we planned to adopt them, should the case go that way. My boyfriend and I weren’t originally planning to adopt. We were planning to be foster parents.
But somewhere along the way, we had fallen in love with these two. We would support reunification if that was what happened, but if it didn’t, we were ready to officially be a family. I still think about that first time my children walked through the door. Two little people we had never met. Two little people who would change our lives. We had no idea that someday we would be their parents.
And yet here we are, 6 years later, a family.
Erin is a former foster mom, but now just a regular mom (birth and adoption). She works in post productions and blogs about her transracial family’s journey through foster care, adoption, birth, and parenthood, at No BOHN’s About It (follow her on Facebook and Twitter).