As I sit at the computer station catching up on charting I hear one of the babies I’m assigned to care for starting to whimper; which quickly escalates to a wail….he’s awake again. I head into his room to find him lying in his bassinet frantically rooting for his pacifier. As I pick him up to soothe him I can feel his little body twitching….he is absolutely miserable. I rock him until he finally starts to relax and drift back off to sleep.
I have experienced this scene far too often in my 16 years as a NICU nurse. Babies with a condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (or NAS) caused by illegal (or legal in the case of methadone) drugs used by mamas while their babies are growing inside of them. It can take them weeks to withdraw and they often need NICU supervision and medication to help them get through it. And then when they are well enough to go home they don’t always have a safe place to go.
Watching this play out time after time was a large part of the reason that my husband and I started down the path of becoming licensed foster parents. We had been thinking and praying about it for awhile and felt like God was calling us to play a part in children’s stories….particularly babies born addicted to drugs. With my medical training I knew that I could meet a need and help them in their healing process.
We became licensed in July of 2014 and on Thanksgiving Day of that year we brought home our first foster daughter, sweet baby A. She had been in the NICU for about 3 weeks with NAS. Our experience with her was amazing and we were not only able to care for her needs and watch her grow but we were able to witness a family reunified. Her mama did such an amazing job with the hard work she needed to do in order to get her baby back. Baby A went home to live with her mama when she was 9 months old and we are incredibly privileged to have a relationship with her and her mama to this day.
We are learning so much on this journey as we continue to foster; God is opening our hearts to see people as HE sees them….with unconditional love and acceptance. To see that birth parents are more than what a piece of paper says about them….and that EVERYONE deserves a second chance.
The most common thing I hear about foster care is some variation of “I could never do it…. I would get too attached!”. Do we get attached to our foster children? Yes! Is it hard to say goodbye when they leave our care? Of course! But can we handle this sadness? By the grace of God I say emphatically YES. These children SO deserve our whole hearts and all of our love. We are giving them the chance to learn to attach which is vital to their health as they grow up. Please hear me when I say it is SO worth it.
What about you? How can you get involved? Whether it be supporting those who are “in the trenches” of foster care all the way to taking first steps to becoming licensed yourself. There is a place at the table for you!
Here are a couple of my favorite resources relating to foster care and adoption:
The Foster Parenting Podcast: this podcast isn’t super active anymore but I listened to every episode when we were praying about starting this journey. Lots of great information!