Christinaand Walt have been on call as a foster parent for several years now. Their current foster child, a six-year-old girl, is being placed with a suitable family member tomorrow. But, instead of a respite they thought they would have, Social Services has placed a six-week old baby with them. Without revealing too much about the child, I can say that his mother is unmarried, in rehab, and has an outstaning warrant against her. And it turns out that the man who claimed to be the baby's father isn't. The infant was just released after four weeks in the hospital for multiple drug addictions.
Christina and Walt work and both go to school, so Kitty and I provide day care. I've asked myself, what the hell are we doing? All the time muttering that I'm too old for this. Then I take a look at this child who had nothing to do with the situation he was born into. I see how Christina cares for the baby. I see Mark and Erin learning the importance of doing what one can to help make the world a little bit better. I see Kitty holding and rocking the child, singing to him. And I am rocking and holding the baby and soothing him. Our dog and Christina's dogs are instinctively protective of his young life. We all make sure that he receives the vital human touch that is so necessary. We also make sure that he gets his tummy time and aural and visual stimulation. In the grand scheme of things this may not be much, but it's what we can do.
The baby is sometimes cranky, and who can blame him? But he has been smiling at us. That smile means everything. I suddenly know that I am not too old for this, that Christina and her family -- and we -- are doing something worthwhile. We are a small, but vital, cog in a long line of people -- from the doctors and staff that treated a new-born's addiction to the social workers who are working above and beyond their paychecks -- who are trying to ensure this child gets a decent break.
We have no idea how long this baby will be with Christina, but he is part of our family now. And that's a good thing.