Foster care was the UP part of being put up for adoption.
The up-for-grabs, up-in-the-air, upsy-daisy part. The part in the story that was neither here nor there.
The long Hail Mary that took me from lost to found, relinquished to claimed.
It was a blank that my mother filled with gratitude, a) for the foster family, who took such good care of me and put me on a schedule and taught me how to smile at strangers and b) for the agency, especially that nice Miss S. who handled things so well. The way my mother talked about foster care made me feel special, pampered, as if I’d been at a spa. For this I am grateful. Maybe I should’ve just stayed in foster care my whole life with all those adoring fans.
Foster care was cloaked in mystery for a good reason. It was the place where all the magic happened, where I was transformed from a curse to a blessing, from a nightmare to a dream come true. It was in foster care that one story was erased and another written. You see, in order to be adopted, all traces of the Other Family had to be washed away. The good and the bad. With each bottle, each diaper change, each nap on my tummy, I became less who-I-might’ve-been and more who-I-was-going-to-be. The centuries of genetic desire and frolic that went into making who-I-might’ve-been were null and void. Thrown out with the bath water. More suitable parents would be found. They had probably already been found! They were probably waiting by the phone, their hearts on stand by, arms at the ready, for their baby to arrive.
But it was in the best interest of every one involved to make the future parents wait just a bit, four months to be exact (six for my sister), until everything was secure and all previous claims banished.
Of course the window was kept open during those four months, just in case the Other Family had second thoughts, blood being thicker and stickier than the ink of adoption. Yes, if they chose, for what ever reason, not to relinquish their claim, the window would remain open, but not forever! Each day it closed a little more.
Here’s your bottle, baby!
Upsy daisy, baby!
Foster care was the slow severing of the umbilical cord— are you sure you don’t want to change your mind? Last chance….Because once the window was shut and the papers signed, the baby would be G.O.N.E.
Bye bye, baby.
With the finality of a death.
Only there would be no grave to house the grief, no little sprig of hair in a locket to hold, no christening dress to clutch to your heart, no little bonnet, no scent of new born scalp, no photos even, because adoption is not a death, it is life! It is hope! It is love!
Bye bye, baby.
A window shuts. A door opens and in come Mom and Dad.
We got the call from that nice Miss S. and she said, she had a baby for us, a baby girl… and here’s were the story begins. Again and again. Forever and ever, amen.