When I was first married, I never knew that once I started having children I would always be in a state of expectation. For all the firsts: flutters, kicks, rolls and stretches, and that’s long before a baby’s due date. Once they were born, there was always a next first thing. And even though they don’t need our constant help or supervision, our grown children keep us in a state of expectation, waiting for their next steps in adulting.
About two and a half years ago our grown daughter started yet another adventure, one we honestly sat back and watched to see if she would follow through. Not that she doesn’t stick with things, but part of finding what to stick with involves trying things out, and there had been a number of experiences she had tried and decided to leave behind.
All that spring and summer we had been hearing about the new adventure: taking classes that would allow her to become a foster mom. We listened with interest, because we had gone through seven long years of infertility after our first two children were born. We had started to talk about fostering when we were blessed with more children, so we never pursued the idea of fostering or adopting.
That fall, as her classes drew to a close, we had to start seriously considering what this would mean for our family, to have foster babies coming in and possibly back out of our lives.
This was not something we were prepared for.
My husband and I and our three teens still at home had not gone through six months of classes, hearing and seeing and reading all the ins and outs of what to expect when you get a call in the middle of the night asking if you can be at the hospital within an hour to transport a newborn to your home. For an indefinite time.
We were, by then, living with a sense of expectation. But I imagine that was nothing compared to the anticipation our daughter was feeling.
The classes were done, and she was told she would be certified probably by Thanksgiving. This was getting real.
I joined with some of her friends to shower her with the practical things she would need to be fully ready to welcome a baby to her home, and the sense of expectation mounted. Without the swollen ankles, the ever-urgent bladder, the heartburn and the trouble finding a good position in which to sleep. This was on December 4. A full week and a half past our “expected” ready date of Thanksgiving.
And three days later our world changed forever.
But we didn’t know it until December 10, when the call came, and since my phone was silenced, older daughter facetimed younger daughter and we didn’t know what we were seeing at first.
A car seat. With a baby girl, born December 7, 2016. In my daughter’s car. Can you run by the store and get this specific formula on your way over mom? Yes, yes! And the mad dash to meet this wonder, this surprise. It was really happening.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
I knew we were expecting an exciting adventure. A plunge into the world of Children’s Services, with fingerprinting and background checks, trips downtown when I had spent most of my adult life avoiding driving there, and the chance to hold and care for a newborn again while our daughter worked and the baby got old enough to start daycare.
It felt a little like venturing into the wilderness because of all the unknowns. And we certainly hoped we would be able to provide refreshment and nourishment to a child who needed to be cared for, physically and emotionally.
What I wasn’t expecting, what took my breath away and what still undoes me every time I think about it, is this love. This fierce, all-consuming tsunami of emotion I did not expect to have for a stranger’s child from the moment I first saw her.
Nothing had prepared me for grandfostering.