My day started with a short drive up to Leavenworth with a teenage boy who needed to go to his probation hearing. I was supposed to wait and take him back to his foster home but after an hour the caseworker called to say he wasn’t going home, which means his hearing didn’t end well. I hate it when I get to know these kids and then things change and I don’t know what happened to them. I always hope for the best but it’s hard to let go. I drove home a little dejected and since I have been fighting a severe viral infection in my lungs for 5 days I was kind of looking forward to taking the day off to rest my body and give my mind a break from the heartbreaking stories these foster kids tell me almost every day.
I got a couple hours of sleep in before I had some outside chores to do and dinner to make but around 6:30 the cellphone rang again. Anna, the young woman who works the late shift in the transportation office was calling me about 2 little girls who just came into the system. I think Anna has me all figured out. She knows I can’t say no to little ones on their first day. I still felt like death warmed over from too little sleep and too much medication but I volunteered anyway. It wasn’t much of a drive, just Leavenworth again, but with a baby and a toddler I never know what to expect.
The biggest reason I always go for the new kids is a sense of urgency that I experience each time I get that call. I know these kids are probably traumatized from the whole process of being taken from the home, spending a day in the SRS office with strangers and then waiting to find out what happens next. I can’t even imagine how that feels. I figure the sooner I can get there and get them out of a cold, impersonal office building and into a loving foster home the better their chances are of getting through this tragedy. Anna knows I will drop everything and go immediately and I always do.
I wish I could say I have the perfect technique for dealing with kids in this situation. The truth is I have no clue and every kid is different. I just wing it and hope for the best. Tonight was no exception. The caseworkers at the office helped me get them into my car and handed me one plastic bag with diapers and maybe a change of clothes for each girl. It was a pretty obvious reminder of how little these two had going for them at the moment. They were both amazingly quiet in the car on the hour drive and it was nice not to be dealing with a crying fit.
I had arranged to meet the foster mom in Leavenworth and she was right on time. She and her husband, an Army Major, had been down this road before with kids this little and I could tell she had a big heart for kids. It’s always a good feeling when I know in my heart I’ve gotten them some place better. As I went to get the older one out of the carseat I could hear her uneasy breathing, the kind that’s halfway between crying and normal where each breath is tentative and worried. When I picked her up, she gave me that same look I’ve seen a hundred times. Her big brown eyes stayed focused on mine as if to ask, “So can I trust, YOU?” The one thing I have learned is to never look away at that moment and to think to myself, “Of course you can.” It must work because she laid her head on my shoulder and grabbed on to me like she would never let go till I handed her to her new foster mom. My drive home was a whole lot better than the one earlier in the day.
Here’s what I learned tonight from two little girls who I may never see again. Hug your children as often as you can because you may not get another chance tomorrow. I think hugs are God’s way of reminding each other how much we matter and that’s a message that should be repeated as often as humanly possible. It’s the simplest form of communication but easily the most powerful. Nothing else in our lives is ever going to make us feel better than those moments when two hearts are pressed together and love is expressed in its purest form. “Put a little love in your heart” and see how it makes you feel.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content