This is the exciting part, as anyone counting down the days until a baby’s due date can attest. The thrill of eliminating clutter and barely used gym equipment doubling as clothing racks, to make space for a new family member. Deciding on a decorating theme, shopping in previously unexplored isles of your neighborhood department stores, the list goes on and on.
After much internal debate, I’ve decided on an aviation theme for two reasons: The first being that it is very easy to find boyish decor when searching for aviation related bedding and adornments; the second, because his prospective father is a pilot, however distant and unaffordable that hobby has become. Revisiting old maps once used to navigate the open skies above the mountainous terrain of my rural hometown, now pieced together to form the majority of Northern and Central California, proudly displayed above a cherry-stained crib. That, and two hand-made wooden airplanes, a Corsair and a Cessna 310, mark the beginning of a slow and methodical transition into baby boy land.
Across from the crib where a power-rack once stood, lies a toddler bed made up in navy blue linens, a matching diaper changing station next to that. In the opposite corner, two matching dressers filled with onesies from newborn to 18 months. There is no guarantee this baby will be an infant, so I need to be prepared for anything up to three years of age. My collection of clothing and diapers reflect that readiness.
In my bedroom, there is a co-sleeper filled with newborn clothing, toys, and accessories. The living-room holds an assembled Pack-N-Play, and an Eddie Bauer (the pride of the collection) high-chair stands in the dinning room in the place where my mini-bar once lived. My 16 year old Lagavulin and 12 year old Glenlivet now occupy the vacant space of my range-top cabinet in lonely solitude, symbolizing the changing of a single man’s bachelor pad into an even cooler, age appropriate bachelor pad for two.
From the licensing side, I’ve attended 3 out of the 4 required classes and completed the first of 3 interviews. I am expecting to be licensed by early to mid November, and waiting for placement with the possibility of having a child by Christmas. It is a long-shot and a time frame my Social Worker has cautioned me from hoping for too strongly. And then there’s the other possibility, and the most sobering reality I am forced to come to grips with: I can meet all the requirements, have the perfect child placed in my care, love him as my own flesh and blood, and end up having him reunified with his birth parent(s), never to see him again. The idea of this has caused more than one restless night’s sleep.
Here’s the reality: Fulfilling the dream of holding a baby of your own, only to be pried from your grasp through the process of reunification, is a very real possibility. One that I sincerely hope I never have to experience, but am fully prepared for. If the only solace I can take from this is the knowledge that during the time he was in my care, he was fed, cared for, and loved, than I can live with the hole his departure will most certainly leave. Ultimately, there is nothing more grounding for a child than the knowledge, for him, that his parent(s), imperfect though they were, chose to fight for him; The knowledge, for me, that he won’t have to go through life believing he didn’t matter to the people who should have loved him the most. The knowledge of those two facts make this reality bearable and the emotional risk acceptable.
But there will be many tears shed. That is my job as his foster parent. His job is to enjoy care-free bowel movements, make messes with his spaghetti, and ensure that no member of his household gets more than two or three consecutive hours of sleep.
It should never be the concern of a child, whether or not he or she goes to bed hungry or struggle to stay awake because his parents fought all night in the next room. It should never be the concern of a child that they look presentable in public or that their health is being properly monitored and attended to. It should never be the concern of a child, whether or not they have a clean, warm place to sleep or whether that place will be with people he knows, or with complete strangers to him. It is the right of every child to be a kid, free of those concerns. Free to jump in puddles and color outside the lines, without the fear of abuse.
If those conditions are met, than I will be grateful for my time with him and excited for all the possibilities his future holds.
Until next time…