It was a weird night to begin with. Willow, who consistently goes down around 7:45, wouldn’t stop crying. She wasn’t sick or teething and there was nothing ‘wrong’ - she was just wide awake. We both went in countless times over the course of an hour to comfort her, and finally we gave up and just got her out of bed. She toddled around the living room, completely exhausted and very uncoordinated, but still not wanting to go to sleep. It wasn’t until about 9:45 that we finally put her back in bed and, after a little crying, she gave up.
Not 5 minutes later my phone started buzzing and I saw it was our social worker. I quickly showed Nathan and we knew what it meant - a placement call was coming. It wasn’t our first call, but it was definitely later than we expected!
She explained the situation to us. There was a middle school aged boy who needed a home for just one night. We were the last people she called, since we had decided during the process that the oldest child we would be open to right now is elementary school aged. This is for a lot of different reasons which I won’t get into here, but she knew she was asking a bit more of us than she wanted.
She told us about his history and his family - he was currently in the foster care system - and asked if we would take him. Just one night. I was a little wary, since I’ve heared of the ‘just one night’ turning into a whole lot longer for some families, but it was almost 10pm and he needed somewhere to go. Nathan and I talked about it. There were a lot of reasons to say no, and a lot of reasons to say yes. It felt like a pretty impossible decision, and one we had only a few minutes to make.
We prayed, stared at each other for a little bit, and finally decided we would say yes to one single night. I called our social worker back and she drove to his house to pick him up. Nathan fell asleep but I laid in bed, wide awake, praying nearly the whole time. About 2 hours later, after midnight, I got a text saying they had arrived.
We went downstairs and opened the door to a little boy whose demeanor was completely disarming. I’ll call him Isaiah for the purpose of this blog, but that isn’t really his name. He was sweet and kind, polite and respectful. Nathan showed him upstairs to his bedroom, and Isaiah proudly told Nathan he wasn’t scared of the dark. He got ready for bed, turned off the lights, and went to sleep.
Downstairs, I started signing the pile of paper work our social worker had brought. Even though it was only one night, we still needed to fill out everything the same as if we were keeping him for a month or a year. I learned so much just looking through the papers, and I was left with so many questions about how things are handled and why they are handled that way.
Exhausted, we crawled into bed around 1:30am. Willow had woken up several times up to this point, but thankfully she didn’t ever disturb us because we were already awake. Oh the irony!
The next morning I had to wake Isaiah up pretty early so he could get to school on time. I wasn’t sure how the wake-up would go, but it was very smooth. He was understandably exhausted but didn’t drag his feet and got ready pretty quickly. Because Willow had such a crazy night she slept in pretty late, so Nathan and I got to spend some two-on-one time with him. It was such a gift. He is a hilarious, fun-loving kid who was a joy to be around. He still has big dreams for his future, which I find absolutely amazing considering all that he’s been through. We laughed, danced in the kitchen, and got to know him for a short while until the social worker arrived to pick him up.
Just like that, he was gone. If he had needed another night somewhere we would have offered it to him, but it turns out he didn’t. I’m thankful that he went to what seems like a pretty good situation, which I’m pretty sure is not how we’ll always feel about the outcome.
Our first placement, Isaiah, was a gift. We were extremely tired but very grateful for the time we spent with him. I still pray for him regularly and think of him often, and his name will forever be on the wall in our house that chronicles the children who will be in our home, whether 8 hours or 8 months or 8 years. I have no idea what’s happening next - we did get another call, the placement just didn’t work out - but our first foray into foster care was a sweet experience that I know I will never forget.