I worry about my future foster child.
We're nearing the end stretch of the qualification process, which means that in a manner of weeks or months, the child who will be placed into my home is going to be forcibly removed from their own. I worry that they might not be doing so well right now. That an ugly situation is coming to a head.
The whole process feels like it's taken forever (since July!), but I am calm because I believe God (my conception of it) is guiding us to the one specific child who needs us at a specific point in time. I hope he/she is warm. I hope he/she isn't hungry or scared.
The funny thing about not knowing who your child is is that it makes it very hard to prepare. We have a bed, and a dresser, but we can't purchase any clothing. We don't know if we need a crib or a bassinet. I've been pushing for bunk beds so we can take siblings if the situation arises, but it's been pointed out that I may be getting a bit ahead of myself.
We got a dining room table and are practicing eating there instead of in front of the television. Every time I use a four-letter word, I get admonished. "No more cursing in the house!"
The cat seems to think that we've been fixing up the back bedroom for him. He now stretches across the bed in there for naps. Sometimes I stop in the doorway and just look around, imagining the child who will live there. We refer to him/her variously as "the pea," "Little shaver," and "the friend."
I hope he or she isn't in pain.
You don't realize just how gendered the world of children is until you start trying to prepare for the arrival of a child whose gender you don't know. I went to Target to purchase curtains and I got excited by the sign announcing "Kid's rooms!"
I can't buy any of the darling miniature clothes I coo over at our local MiniMax, but I'd be able to purchase something here, I thought. Some small item to make the room feel welcoming.
I wandered through one aisle:
Then the other:
This child is most likely coming to us already gendered, already into pink or blue or sports or princesses or dinosaurs. And that'll be fine, but in the meantime, I don't know what to purchase from these strictly divided aisles. I don't know what this kid is all about.
There's a lot I don't know. I realized the other day that while I've been trained to deal with grief and loss and acting-out behaviors, I don't know small things like at what age kids start bathing themselves or what appropriate bedtimes are for different age groups.
When the kid arrives, there's probably going to be some frantic Googling going on. Most of our friends have children under 5, so we'll be the ones blazing the trail if the kid is older than that.
We'll figure it all out, I presume. I hope right now our future foster child is taking baths, is sleeping in a bed.
In the meantime, the only thing we purchased (besides a set of curtains) is a little piggy bank in the shape of a dog, which we stuffed with a few starter dollars. It sounds silly, but the dog just felt right.
Of course, my future foster child won't really be "mine," in the permanent sense of the word. I'm very clear on the first goal of foster care, which is ultimately to reunite the child with his or her family.
I will work toward that goal, when we get there. When the child is safely removed from the conflict and the parents are getting the help they require. But whatever the current situation in the family, it's escalating. So for now, I worry about my future foster child.
I can't wait to meet him (or her).