Waiting – Our First Night in Foster Care
March 29, 2017
Just like any normal day, I woke up then my twin sister, Amanda, and I ate our favorite rainbow, off-brand Fruity Pebbles. We wore our identical charcoal grey and black tie-dye t-shirts. The car ride to school was quiet but our day quickly ended up being far from normal. We were summoned from our classes by heavy hearted principals and interrogated by firm-lipped police and social workers. There was little sympathy for the disruption in our routine, the morning dragged on and on.
After what felt like an eternity of questions, the afternoon finally came. Our only cheerleader in the stands for our volleyball game was publicly pulled away by the police and principals. The replacement cheerleader, our social worker, wore a tearful smile, with dark eyes that frowned. Everyone in the gym stared as she and police greeted us after the game to drive us home for the very last time.
When we walked into our childhood home, our pet cockatiel croaked in the sunroom, disoriented by the commotion. Police swarmed the house and we were advised to gather two weeks of clothes and to be swift; we needed to leave quickly. The dogs were out of sight, hiding in the abandoned, broken down busses and cars that were covered by ivy in the woods beside the house. I cried for all of the dogs, cows, cats, goats, and birds that we were leaving behind and might never see again. I cried because I was not coming back to my childhood home. And I cried because I was grieving the loss of the only family I ever knew.
We were ushered into the stiff backseat of the police car filled with stale smell of cigarettes; our cab into to the unknown. The forty-five minutes of nervously asking every imaginative question you could ask a police officer ended up being the highlight of our day. When we finally arrived, we lugged our two duffel bags and backpacks into the sterile office of the department of social services, where more strange faces greeted us with more probing questions. Questions that went on for hours.
I think it was after midnight before it really started to get silent. The social workers in the other room continued to make calls, inaudibly, as Amanda silently dissolved into the virtual realm of social media and I anxiously rested on a nearby couch. We were waiting for a home for the night. I counted the clicks of seconds in the corporate wall clock, although that clock seemed to be screaming at me, it still wasn’t as loud as my heartbeat, which doubled the seconds. It shook my body and riddled my mind, why are we still here, what is going on, does no one want to help us?
We learned around 3:00 a.m. that they had finally found a family to take us for the night. When we pulled into the family’s long gravel driveway, the smell of manure and chicken excrement flooded the car, gagging us. We pulled our emotions together as we were warmly greeted into a silent house with only a couple of dim lights still on. A kind woman introduced us to our bedroom, where we lay down for three hours of rest on the carpeted floor with pink Cinderella themed toddler sized comforters.
Children and teenagers are removed from their families and homes for a variety of unfortunate reasons and often are left waiting, like we did, for a family… if they even get a family at all. Teens have the hardest time finding a family, so: What would it take for you to say yes?
UMFS is actively searching for families who are willing to take teens in need into their homes. If you’re interested in learning how you can help a child who needs a safe home, please visit umfs.org/foster or call 855.367.8637 to learn more about taking the next step to becoming a foster, foster to adopt, or emergency/respite foster family.
Blog by Foster Parent Recruiter Andrea Miller