A letter to my son’s mother

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We don’t talk, you and I.  You asked for my number at the first visitation, and, at the encouragement of the case workers, I politely declined to give it to you.  I left that first visit and started sobbing.  We had only had your son for a little more than a month and the love I felt for him was so strong, the fear of losing him was so great and I couldn’t not verbalize that to someone.  So I called the person who knows me best, my own mother.

When people ask me about him, I delicately dance around why he’s in foster care.  I’m sure to emphasize that he was born perfectly healthy and it’s based on circumstances that happened well before his birth.  But still, it’s easy for people to vilify you.  And I’m sorry I haven’t done a better job of defending you.

It’s so easy for us to cast judgement.

“How could she?!”
“You shouldn’t have kids if you’re not responsible enough to take care of them.”
“Clearly, you can provide for him better than she can.” (Definitely guilty of thinking this one myself.)
“No one’s heard from her?  How can you be a good mom if you’re not even following up about your kids?” (Yep, guilty of this too.)
“I hope he stays with you, he came into the foster system for a reason.”

But recently, I’ve realized the people who say these things (myself included) come from pretty supportive systems.  They have family and dear friends to whom they can turn when the going gets tough.  I can name at least 10 people Ian and I could move in with if things got really rough.  If anything ever happened with our nieces or nephews, a number of people from our families would be stepping in to care for those children as their own.  My mom drove eight hours to watch him for a day.  My mother-in-law bought us a box of clothes and burp rags and always wants to know how she can provide for us.  Friends brought us dinner and clothes.  My coworkers threw me a foster care shower before we even had any children.

What I’m trying to say is our support system is strong.  It’s fully intact.  We have people in our lives who fill us up when we’re feeling empty.  We have people who encourage us.  We have people who love us and speak life into us.

I don’t know what you have, but I imagine if your newborn son went to the home of complete strangers, your support system isn’t fully intact.  And I’m sorry.  I wish you had people in your life who “stood in the gap” for you.   I wish I knew how to be one of those people for you.

You’ll likely never read this, but if you do, I want you to know a few things:

1) He is loved.  I know it wasn’t your choice, but it has been one of the single greatest joys of our lives to care for your son.  He is healthy, he is so happy, and he is loved.

2) You are strong.  Remember that visitation where we were both early and we chatted alone for a few minutes?  You told him I was his “other mommy.”  You are brave and understanding and filled with love.  And in a moment where you could have made it known you were his mother, you instead made it known that I was also his mother.  I wish you knew how much confidence that gave me in the first months of motherhood.

3) You are loved.  I hope by your family and friends, but also by us.  Whatever the outcome of this, I hope one day we’ll have a relationship where we have each other’s numbers.


It’s been a minute


Where to begin…

(I’ve been updating Instagram pretty regularly, so if you follow me there, this is likely a lot of repeat info.)

In July of last year, we were just putting the finishing touches on the kids’ room.  So much has happened, but I remember being in that season.  We were eager to complete our home study, and then we were eager to be approved, and then we were eager to receive a placement call, then we were eager to receive the right placement call.

It all felt like it was taking forever.  But finally, in September, we were approved foster parents!  Right off the bat, we received a couple of calls for kids who were older than what we’re currently comfortable with.  Then there was a long dry spell.  Finally, in the middle of November, we received a call for a 2- and 3-year-old brother set.  We jumped at the opportunity to be their parents, and then almost as quickly that ended by our my choosing and by absolutely no fault of those sweet boys, but that’s a story for another day.

Then a week later, on December 1st, we received a call about a 4-day-old baby boy.  Would you believe we actually said no at first?  We were still a bit traumatized from the first placement and needed to tie up a couple of loose ends in our personal lives.

We were both at work, and the placement worker called me twice and texted me about this baby boy before I had a chance to call her back.  I texted Ian, but before he and I actually had a chance to talk, I called the placement worker back and told her we still needed a few more days and we couldn’t do it.  As soon as I hung up with her, Ian was calling me.  We talked.  We didn’t know if we’d ever get to experience the newborn phase of life after dealing with infertility and the PATH classes hammering home that getting a baby is next to impossible, and here we were being given the opportunity to parent a perfectly healthy newborn.  I asked him if he felt like I could actually be a mother after our first failed attempt, he reassured me I’m capable of being a fantastic mom.

So, minutes after telling the placement worker “no”, I called her back.  My heart was pounding in my chest, not knowing if she had already found another family for him.

“Hey! It’s me, Colleen, again.”

“Hi, Colleen.”

“I know I just told you we couldn’t take him, but have you found a home for him?”

“Not yet.”

“Ok, we’ll take him!”

She let me know his caseworker would pick him up from the hospital and bring him by later that evening.  I made sure everything was in order at work and I gleefully and anxiously made my way home.  Was this really happening?

And then reality started to sink in.

We had a crib and a changing station.  We had no diapers, no burp cloths, no bottle, no baby clothes.  How much do you feed a newborn?  How often?  What do I do about his umbilical cord?  How do I know if he’s sleeping enough?  Can he sleep too much?

Thankfully, I have some really wonderful mom friends who were able to coach me through some of those first moments.  One particularly kind, generous friend Amazon Prime’d us a care package with the essentials.  I don’t know what we would have done without her gift.

And with the reality of the situation came tremendous heartache.

Our rejoicing came at a terrible loss for our foster son and his mother.  They lost each other after 3 days out of the womb together.  Mothers and children aren’t designed to be separated from each other so early on.  Every day, as my love for my foster son grows deeper, so does the ache of knowing his beginning.

But regardless of the heartache and our lack of preparedness, we still signed up to be a safe place and a loving home for this sweet boy for as long as needed.  And about four hours after we first heard of him, his case worker pulled into our driveway and brought the tiniest nugget of a baby into our home.


And over 5 months later, Bubs is still here.  He is such a joy to have in our home and bring so much richness to our lives.

We still don’t know how long we’ll have him, and adjusting to that uncertainty is a constant struggle.  But we have him tonight, and we’ll likely have him tomorrow night, and we try as hard as we can to live in the “now” and enjoy the time we have together.