Monday, December 18, 2017

What It's Like to Be a Foster Parent When You Get the Call

{As a foster parent I have gone through this on seven occasions and each time I get incredibly nervous with the necessity of quick decision-making. Not every home would go through these feelings, and maybe I'm a bit dramatic, but these are mine. I cannot share details on the ministry or the children in it's care, I can only share my own thoughts...and I have a few.} 

What it's like to be a foster parent when you first get the phone call.

The red light on the answering machine was blinking. I knew what it was. I mean, it could have been my mother-in-law – the only one who regularly leaves us messages on our machine – but more likely it was The Call because it's Thursday. Thursdays are the day when the placement team in our city meets to match up children who need a home with families that have rooms available and are the best fit for the children. Most of our placements have happened on this day of the week.

Before checking the message I gave myself The Talk.

Louise, what is the plan? We just said goodbye to our last baby a few weeks ago, are we ready for another? We're in basketball season, it's going to be so busy with Gary coaching and Kai playing. You're going to be caring for another little boy for a few months, can you handle two babies? You were loving sleeping in finally, can you give it up? Weren't you wanting to start running again? What would Gary say? What did he say when Baby went home? Remember, when you call them back, ask your list of questions about sleep, special needs and expected visits. Don't commit right away. Don't feel pressured. Tell them you have to talk to your husband and get back to them. Oh, life could be easy right now. How much should we stretch?

I played the message. A sweet baby girl who sleeps well. No other information.

Time for the Other Talk.

God, is this the child you want in our home? Can we do it? Will it be too hard? What if it's too much, what would we do then? What about our plans to travel across Canada all summer–we need 6 weeks at least and we can't do that with a baby. I know they say she sleeps but I've heard that one a time or two! I know that there are other foster homes open and available right now, is she meant to be with us? God, is this your plan for us? Yes? No? Yes? No? Why can't it be clear? I need to hear an answer.


I texted Gary: Call for baby girl. Thoughts?

Silence. He's at work.

I knew I had some time because they were in the meeting for the afternoon. I work Fridays so I texted a fellow foster parent to see if she could babysit if need be. Phew, she could. I went up to the spare room and looked through the clothes that I have for a baby girl. Not a lot. I would need to get some. And bottles. And formula. I have size 3 diapers, what size would she be in? Why did I get rid of all my baby stuff? We're always told to purge and declutter but then it seems like I need half of it down the road again. Fostering was never in our plans until four years ago though. Not my fault for letting so much go!

Gary texted back: How long?

Me: Don't know yet. Waiting for phone call with details. She sleeps.

Gary: I guess? Are you ready?

I made The Phone Call.

It's always the same woman who contacts the foster parents when making a placement so we get straight down to it. Some details are provided. Usually there is little known and this case is no exception. Timeline unknown. A sweet baby girl? I suddenly feel that if this is our last placement it would be a good one. A sweet baby girl. I feel myself leading up to the "Yes" and it escapes my lips before I have a chance to confirm with Gary. Done. She will be coming tomorrow after work.

The knots in the my stomach subside. The decision has been made.

Friday comes with a sick daughter and me staying home from work. Can I bring a baby into a home full of germs? Likely she won't be immunized and often kids first coming into foster homes get sick in the first week or two because of suppressed immune systems due to the stress they have been under at home and in the transition. I should make meals. I should clean. No, I should rest.

There is a knock on the door. In just a few seconds I will meet the newest little love of my life. It could be anywhere from easy to a truly difficult situation for an undetermined amount of time. Unknowns are hard. The door opens and my heart melts immediately – this has only happened once before as sometimes it takes a little longer. Five minutes later I have signed a piece of paper and waved goodbye to the social worker while I hold that sweet little girl in my arms.

And then comes the Final Talk before my heart takes over.

Louise, be so careful. What if this is The Loss you can't handle? Maybe don't fall in love with her. No, no, it's not healthy for either one of us to hold back, let yourself feel what comes. You've done it before you can do it again. Just look at her.

What it's like to be a foster parent when you first get the phone call.

She flashes me a huge grin. Wow, that was fast! I respond with my own. A piece of my heart lights up and it's too late. We're on this road again and it's so worth it. 

To love at all is to be vulnerable. – C.S. Lewis


As always, I'd love to see you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please pin here for later:

What it's like to be a foster parent when you first get the phone call.

This post is inspired by a word prompt of the week which was LIGHT. Several other writers have contributed and you can find their work here:

Shannon Lee Blog
Discovering Parenthood
Robyn Roste


  1. Such a well written post from your heart!

    1. Thank you, Carol! Hope I got the feelings across :) Happy birthday to your son-love that photo you shared

    2. He was born right around the time I am writing this - he was born at home! He arrives home tomorrow evening for the holidays - always good to have him here!

    3. Oh wow! What a nice arrival—I’m assuming a Home birth wasn’t the plan? Have such a wonderful holiday with your family. Merry Christmas!

    4. Actually the home birth was planned - I had a history of very quick, easy labours and deliveries! A very Merry Christmas to you and your family too!

  2. This is so beautifully written! I love hearing your heart through this process. Praying it is a very special placement for you all :)