In March of last year, my dear friend and fellow foster mama left me a voicemail one evening explaining that she had a new placement and was wondering if I could care for the child for a few hours the next day while she was at work. I called her back and accepted with a flutter of excitement and nervousness in my belly, then I lay awake into the night anticipating meeting this baby in the morning.
My husband and I were new foster parents; we were just licensed the month before and had not yet had any placement requests. Despite our training, we had little idea how the system worked or what to really expect as we became involved with caring for foster children.
That first day with Baby Girl was effortless. I wore her in my infant carrier as I went about the house. My three sons talked to her in sing-song voices and admired her petite ears. Every time I glanced down at her, she was studying me, drinking me in – this new person with a gentle voice and soft body to snuggle into. And I drank her in too – her shiny hair, taffy cheeks, and the tiniest hands and feet I’ve ever seen on a babe.
From day one, we were friends.
I asked my foster mom friend right away if I could be the one to care for Baby Girl when my friend was at work or otherwise needed a sitter. She agreed, and this little one was part of our weekly lives for the next nine months.
We rolled a blue ball during tummy time and tipped a rainstick back and forth.
We walked to the playground on a spring day and watched a faraway jet plane cross the sky, leaving behind a wispy trail of white.
We snuggled at dusk on summer evenings, her eyes rolling back in her head as she finished her bottle.
I bathed her in our sink, and when she got bigger, in the tub where she pedaled her feet and pounded her palms on the water’s surface. I sang her “her song” each time we were together—her eyes brightening with the opening melody.
She unloaded the bookshelves and tore the ornaments off the Christmas tree and stuck her hands through the baby gate a hundred times to get kisses from our puppy.
She has been so much a part of our lives this past year – a natural fit in our lively household of small humans and critters.
But our time with her is drawing to a close, as we knew it would. Baby Girl is being reunified with her birth mama soon.
Not many children are deeply loved by three mamas in the first year of their life, but she was. She was loved by her birth mama who was working hard to be reunified with her baby, cherishing their visits and trying to do everything right. She was loved by her foster mom who took her into her big, noisy family and exposed her to laughter and joy and the richness of life. And she was loved by me, the part-time mama who held her close in the carrier, who pointed to the sky and the leaves — the mama whose cheeks hurt from smiling whenever we were together.
The love from three mamas and all of our people will go with her into the future – love and earnest prayers and tears of joy and gratitude.
What an honor it has been to be one of her people – to care for her and laugh with her and watch her grow this past year. We have poured so much into her, and she has returned it all and then some with smiles and snuggles and clapping hands.
Baby Girl will probably not remember us, but we will never forget her, and I know in my innermost being that this love has mattered for all of us.
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*Featured image via Flickr