Foster Parenting In a Word

By Sandra Clark

“Hello. This is Sofia from County Foster Care. I’m calling about a baby boy.”

My phone goes off with the recorded blast message whenever there’s a new child needing a home. An eighteen month old girl with visits twice a week. A seven year old boy with no visits at the present time. A sibling set of four, ages ten, seven, six and four months, all girls. Sometimes I get as many calls in a week. Sometimes over a month. It varies.

There are direct calls too. After hours, as I’m getting my own kids to bed or occasionally at 2:00 AM. “Sandra, there’s a baby here in the offices with a worker, could you take him?” In the background I can hear him: frantic, guttural newborn yelps making it hard to concentrate. “He’s hungry, and he’s never taken a bottle before.” Something sinks, while something else rises inside of me; I can’t articulate either. I can only feel it.

“Okay, I can be there in twenty to thirty minutes,” I resolve, committing myself to the unknown.

I’ve done it four times now. (And written about it here and here.) Plus pinch-hitting for a few other foster parents as needed. I wanted to say that by this point, almost a year in, it would be comfortable and I’d feel experienced and capable. I waited for that feeling to come, that my feelings wouldn’t be so unfamiliar, so unable to be articulated. It hasn’t happened. There are too many.

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