We have a new little face in our home again.
Two year old Little O came to stay with us last week.
As a foster family we never know when the phone might ring with a social worker on the other end asking if we are willing to care for a child.
Wednesday it was just going on lunch time when I grabbed the phone and saw the word “Unknown” flash up on my screen. During school hours this means one of two things; the school or Children’s Aid.
As it is Christmas Break I had little doubt who it would be.
I smiled and took a deep breath before answering.
My heart sank when I heard his name.
I felt like crying as I listened to her explain what was once again occurring in Little O’s life.
I pictured his face and the way he constantly asked for Grandma and “blankie” the last time he was with us.
I remembered the happy chattering but also the anxious tears.
We had said goodbye to him after one short week, hopeful that home could be a safe place for him with the extra supports and supervision put in place.
I had packed extra clothes, my phone number and my best wishes to his family, hoping we could support in whatever way necessary but I hadn’t heard from them.
Would we take him?
Poor little O.
Yes, of course we’d take him.
We’d love to take him.
I closed my eyes a brief moment, whispering gratitude that just a short week ago I had called our social worker to tell her we’d like to be available over Christmas.
There was no doubt in my mind the strong urge I’d felt then, was due to this very situation.
It is so much better when a reoccurring placement can happen in the same home.
After talking to the social worker to confirm that Little O was, indeed, coming today I spent the next few hours tidying up the house, preparing a bed, making a list of questions to ask the social worker and throwing in some laundry.
I have learned to do these things (when there’s time) so that I can spend the next couple days focusing on settling in the child without worrying about cleaning, laundry, etc.
It’s not essential, it just makes it easier for me to relax and focus on what’s important.
If I was preparing for a baby I’d also try to squeeze in a shower and nap.
By 3pm they are walking in the front door, and there is Little O.
He is cuddled up close against his social worker’s shoulder and holding on to a blanket, though not one I recognize.
In a clear plastic garbage bag in the social worker’s hand I spy the precious “blankie” I remember from last time.
I get a hint of a smile from him as I kneel down in front of him and say hello.
When his questions become fixated on the special blankie the social worker quietly tells me it needs to be washed, thus the isolation in the plastic bag.
I take the bag in hand and tell him we’ll do that first so that blankie will be clean and dry by bedtime.
Reaching out for his small hand we go back the hall together to the laundry room while the social worker dashes out to get his belongings from the car.
She apologizes when she returns with just one small armload of belongings.
He’s come with almost nothing but the clothes on his back; a pair of green, fuzzy footed pajamas.
I assure her we’ll be fine, as the last time he was here he and my son had worn the same clothes interchangeably. I was quite sure they could do the same thing again.
She stayed for a few minutes; going over paperwork, giving me her contact information and settling him in.
While she was there my husband and children came bursting through the door, smiling and exclaiming excitedly.
Little O smiled and shied away briefly, but soon my daughter’s animated chatter was more than he could resist.
He took her hand and trotted off toward the toy room.
His social worker took the opportunity to slip away after a quick goodbye to Little O, who didn’t react , and then it was just us…the newly expanded version of our family.
Little O has settled in remarkably well.
He remembers us from a few months ago and has slipped easily back into routines.
He is sleeping well and slowly starting to eat; the first night he refused to eat any dinner or snacks which is not real uncommon for a child settling into a new home.
There have been some minor growing pains for us all as we adjust to a noisy, high energy two-year-old in our home, but its really been quite easy so far.
Mostly it’s doubling things I’m already doing with Karter.
Double the diaper changes,
My children often need extra attention when a new child enters our home, so it takes extra patience and grace for all…including myself.
A week in I am reminding myself to be patient with some chaos as we all adjust,
take extra time to pull my daughters close,
snuggle Karter when I get the chance,
and bump a few things off my to do list.
I am reminding myself that it’s ok to feel frustrated when things don’t run as smoothly as normal and not to panic when I get sneaking feelings of regret at our normal being disrupted once again.
I am slowly adjusting to a new volume level in our home.
Little O is full of energy that comes pouring out in singing, laughter, and yelling across the house!
We had family Christmas celebrations with my parents and siblings on the weekend so Little O of course came with us.
I am so thankful for family who buys extra presents, sets an extra place at the table and finds extra room in their hearts for one more little boy.
Little O loved every moment of Christmas and was absolutely thrilled with his present.
He won us all over with his ecstatic cries of,
“Open presents! Open presents!”
We don’t know how long Little O will be with us but we are praying we will love him the best that we can for as long as he is here with us.
We are praying we can be a part of healing for his family and that the social workers involved in Little O’s case will have wisdom to know what is best for him and his family.
We invite you to join us in praying for Little O and his family.
I love to pray the verses from Jeremiah 29:11 over the children in my care, particularly when I don’t know all the circumstances of their lives or what is all going on.
It helps my heart rest when I remember that God has good plans for them; plans for good and not for evil, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give a future and a hope.
These things I pray confidently, knowing that no matter what life may bring God has the ability to redeem brokenness and pain into something good.
We love you Little O!