In honor of May being National Foster Care Month, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives is running a special series designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of foster care and adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
How Elijah Came Into My Life
by Melissa Probst, Wisconsin foster-adoptive mom
When I decided that I wanted to do foster care, I was adamant that I was only going to foster in order to give kids a safe place to live until the courts figure out what to do with their cases. So, I started the process: got more information, went to all of my classes, and was licensed. I met with a placement specialist and went over what age child I wanted, what I was willing to deal with, any illnesses I thought I could handle, etc. Only one day later, I was called about a little boy who was going to be put into my care. I went and got him a few days later for a pre-placement visit. Everything went well. Then, a few days after that, I was told his parents had done everything they were supposed to do and he was going home. Well, there I sat, confused and nervous.
The next day, I received a call that there was a little boy, Elijah, who had been in temporary foster care, and who needed somewhere to go. I was on my way back from a business trip in Indianapolis and my coworker was in the car with me. I was so nervous and ended up going on and on about the situation the rest of the way home.
When the day arrived for Elijah to come for a pre-placement visit, I was nervous and excited all at once. The doorbell rang, and my heart dropped to my feet. I opened the door and in walked this handsome little two-year-old boy and his caseworker. He didn’t say anything. He just looked around and took everything in.
We played for a little bit and I did manage to get a smile from him, but that was about it. I was in love. I could not wait to see him again! The next day I called his foster mom and we made plans for Elijah’s transition to my home.
Then I started preparing: I called the daycare to let them know of his start date, requested copies of all of the legal papers, got “kid food” in the house, bought diapers, etc. I was as ready as I would ever be! On Saturday morning, I went and picked him up. I walked up to the door and Elijah was standing at the screen door smiling at me. When I opened the door, he put his arms out for me to pick him up. I did, and he rested his head on my shoulder. (Now remember, he had only met me once before this!)
We got his things in the car, which consisted of a garbage bag full of balls, a few toys, a mix matched set of pj’s, one spare pair of pants, a few shirts, and a bag of candy. He said goodbye to his foster home and we were off. It was so quiet in the car. I thought, ‘I bet I know what will work,’ and I asked if he wanted McDonald’s. He nodded his head yes. So, off to McDonald’s we went!
When we got home, Elijah ran right to his room, which he knew from his one pre-placement visit. The rest of the day seemed a flurry of activity; a haircut, shopping for clothes and other necessities. We also visited the toy department and I told him he could get whatever toy he wanted. He pointed at the $1 bouncy ball. He was so happy with that ball! On the way home, I turned around and smiled at him at a stop light. He said “Mama,” and I turned around a cried a bit. I couldn’t imagine how scared, confused, lost, he was.
That evening, while Elijah slept, I sat by the baby monitor listening for any breath, whimper, or noise at all. Nothing. Was he scared? Was he okay? I went in to check on him, and he was out like a light! I sat down on the couch to think about how much my life had changed since nine o’clock that morning.
Part Two of “How Elijah Came Into My Life” will be posted tomorrow.