June 2016. SUNDAY evening.
I was in the middle of making supper – a stir-fry – and my phone bleeped with a Whatsapp message. When I saw who the message was from – a hello, how are you, IF friend-but-not-close friend – I imagined it maybe being a request for photographs at a child’s party or something.
The message was to ask if we would consider fostering a little boy long-term, with the possibility of adoption depending on, you know, life. I froze. My first thought, honestly, was, Should I even tell DH (dear husband) about the message? She wrote that it was a family member who was in communication with her and that she had thought of us straight away, and should she send a photograph through, or not? This was over about 10 minutes of messaging. I did tell DH. Well, actually I walked through and gave him my phone to read for himself. Yes, say yes to a photo, DH said.
The photo loads. The mop of light blonde hair, the pale blue eyes looking out questioningly, the little point of chin tilted at the camera. There was no way we’d say no but, yes, we needed more information on the hows and whys and wheres. Very quickly, the Case Worker’s name and contact details came through.
I phoned the CW and explained who I was and why I was phoning. Confusion at first as she thought I was phoning from “an organisation” – I don’t know why. She took my number, phoned the family member to confirm I was who I said I was, and called me straight back. He is healthy and loved and possibly hyperactive (no diagnosis),she said. She could arrange a meeting the very next day.
I arrived at work intending to have to cancel the CW meeting as I wasn’t able to organise a stand-in for work with such short notice. My boss had, though. The stand-in he’d organised was a client’s daughter. Her name was the female version of the boy’s name. Totally got goosebumps. Postponed the meeting by a couple of hours and off we drove. It was a 2 hour drive – easy traffic and no bother at all.
CW met us alone at first and filled us in on a little bit of his history. What a short life – two and a half years – to have experienced the upheaval and difficulties that he apparently had. Young mom with addictive tendencies and no ability to have the responsibility of raising her child. Grandmother with emotional issues who could not cope with guardianship of the boy. Were we ready to meet him? Oh, yes.
Little bucket of Duplo/Lego blocks in one hand – quickly emptied onto the CW’s desk and built into two little towers before the CW’s offer of a sweet grabbed his attention. Those same pale blue eyes from the photograph, the little chin and chopped blonde bangs. He was beautiful. He was calm. He was playful. We – me and he – had a ‘moment’ when DH was talking to the Grandmother and the CW had stepped out to let us all talk. I drew a little picture on some note paper and whispered something about it to him. He responded in a whisper too. My heart was so happy. We had an hour with them altogether – much questions asked (on both sides) and a better understanding of the situation.
We left with the knowledge that the CW was going to email our local welfare department while we were driving on our way home, so they could begin their various security and home checks on us. Because his birth mother was out of contact and her whereabouts unknown to the CW, it was basically decided that, once the red tape and court documents were complete, we could return to collect this little boy. We spoke a million words and spoke no words at all, all the way home. It was awesome to see DH so firmly committed and excited/concerned/over-the-moon about having this little person in our lives. Meeting him opened our hearts up to wanting to protect, love, teach, and absolutely envelope him into our family and our lives. Not just because we’re childless but because of who he was, because of what he’d experienced out of life so far, and because of what we wanted him to experience in his future.