Today marks the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, which everyone knows, but in my house it’s also the anniversary of a special day that was sad and tragic for my daughter, but also exciting and happy for my family. On April 15th one year ago I kept looking at my phone at work, telling myself that a watched pot never boils. I just had a feeling, however, and sure enough, that afternoon I had a voicemail from the licenser, asking me if I was interested in fostering a one month old girl of mixed race with drug exposure. Knowing nothing else, I got tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I called back with shaking hands and said yes, absolutely. The CPS worker was sitting in her office with this tiny girl and was eager to get her to me, but I was in the middle of a 12 hour shift, an hour away. In case you don’t know, legally you can’t leave your patients without another nurse assigned to them.
Luck would have it that another nurse came in an hour early and agreed to take my assignment. I told the CPS worker that I would meet her at my house at 7pm. I pulled in right behind her! It was unseasonally warm, and I was only wearing my scrubs, not even a sweatshirt. I peered into the backseat of her car, and there was this tiny little Asian/Latino looking baby. I was so surprised, I had been expecting half white/half black like my last placement. She looked so Asian, and you never see Asian kids in foster care!
I had no idea if her birth family would work hard to do what they need to do and get her back, like Moose’s did. I was fully prepared to support them in that. I had no idea if she had medical problems, if she had any issues from her drug exposure, if she would stay for a week or a year or forever. But I did know that I loved her, wholly and completely, from the moment I knew she existed, just as I had loved Avalon from the moment I knew she existed.
The next few days were a struggle for both Jo Jo and for my mom and I. She had a poor appetite, she struggled to sleep, and she had a massive night-long crying jag. It took about a week, and then suddenly she turned the corner and adjusted well. I struggled with the strangeness and suddenness of being a grieving baby loss mom one minute and holding and loving a new baby the next.
We will never “celebrate” Gotcha day, as it was a day that marked failure for a struggling birth mother, and grieving and loss for my daughter. Nevertheless, it is a day to be remembered, a day that was the start of our family, the beginning of my relationship with my daughter.