As it grew in our home, the snow in December turned to the mud of April and the sunny days on the beach at Martha's Vineyard in June. We have documented every milestone in the hope that one day he can look back on his time with us and know that it is full of love. He took his first steps and said his first words and found out how toys, body parts and emotions work.
The primary goal communicated to us in our nursing training courses by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families [D.C.F.] was to make every effort to reunite the family. Children in foster care should find a way to reunite or adopt. Foster families are intended to be a temporary safe space while the biological family creates its own safe space for the child to return.
Foster parents have to maintain the balance of being the de facto parent of the child and loving the child as a whole, and giving each other emotional distance, knowing that the child can leave at any time.
As part of the reunification, I dutifully packed the baby's diaper bag for visits and met his social worker in the parking lot of the D.C.F. Offices to drop it off for an hour or two. He would return home and smell different and wear clothes that were too big but chosen by the woman who had carried him in her womb for nine months. She couldn't give him much protection or care, but she could show up for an hour at a time and give him love.
These visits became more sporadic and then non-existent, and the baby was temporarily placed with us for a year and a half.
Periodically, I would receive notifications, both electronically and via email, that a review was scheduled and I would either report on the baby's progress or forward that information to our social worker for presentation. And then we got a letter in the mail from D.C.F. Asking if we would consider adoption.
This letter was a formality; We had decided months earlier that despite the great love we felt for him and the knowledge that we would be asked, that we would not adopt. We had taken on this great responsibility of being a bridge between his past and future life and not being his ultimate goal.