Going through the process of becoming foster parents was not difficult at all. We took classes, filled out paperwork, had a home study and received our official titles of Mom and Dad Foster Parent in just a few months. Once that was done, we figured we would go on with life as normal while we waited for the girl’s adoptions to finalize. Looking back, I now realize Child Protective Services probably saw us coming a mile away and set the trap catching themselves two wide eyed and bushy tailed parents. Seriously, after going through all the training, how could we not use it to benefit some little kid? How much trouble could one little temporary kid be, right?
Our first few foster children were very young, under two and with us for short terms: the first for two weeks and the second for a few months. It was so wonderful to be able to love these little ones during such a difficult time in their lives. Being able to comfort a small, scared child and see them eventually smile and laugh was worth the pain of any goodbyes we would say later. Then came Lizzie.
I received a call from a social worker one morning asking if we would take a thirteen month old baby girl. She didn’t eat, only drank bottles of formula, wasn’t walking or talking and had just begun crawling. I was told she did not smile, play with toys or show much emotion. She lacked socialization and would need special services to learn how to interact with others. The placement had the possibility of lasting as long as a year. The social worker knew we did not want to take any long term commitments, so he promised if we would keep her for just a few weeks, he would be able to find a long term foster home by then. I called Bob to get the ok and called CPS back agreeing to the placement.
As I loaded our five children into the van, each one was buzzing with excitement over the new baby we were on our way to pick up. I explained that it was only for a few weeks and there were some things they needed to know. I went through the checklist of known issues with my kids just as the social worker had done with me. Of course, there were lots of questions, most of them I had no answers to. We all agreed we would just do our best to be kind and loving to the new baby, trusting that God had a plan for her life just like He had for each of ours.
Once we got to the office, we were taken to the holding area where we would wait for our caseworker, David, to return with the baby. Before leaving the room, he explained her name was Liz and that it was important we remain fairly quiet when he returned with her. He was concerned she could be overwhelmed by six of us attacking her with kisses like we were known to do. We all promised to wait quietly and follow his lead.
When the door opened and I saw David standing there, holding the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, I was not shocked by my kid’s oohs and ahhs. Liz was commercial baby perfect in appearance. David stood calmly, holding this little piece of life that stared straight at me, giving no reaction to anything around her. As he entered the room and sat down, placing her on his knee, Liz squirmed to get down. Once settled on the floor, never once taking her eyes off me, she crawled as fast as any baby I had ever seen straight into my arms. Picking her up, I couldn’t help but cover her with kisses unleashing the other kids from their confinement. Within seconds, our new little short term placement was covered with kisses, head and belly rubs. Though she never smiled or cried, she accepted it all in stride. We left before David could wipe the look of shock from his face.
Within two weeks of bringing Lizzie home, she was eating regular table food, laughing, walking and beginning to talk. This kid never needed special services. She just needed a plain, old family to love her to life. Two years after bringing our “short term placement” foster baby named Liz home, we made it her permanent forever home.
Lizzie Ann Hansen is turning twenty years old in five days. I still remember the first time I held her in my arms, like it was yesterday. It scared me, because I knew from that moment, she was in my heart to stay.
Lizzie Ann Hansen ~ 2008
Three boys. Three girls. We were so done. Our quiver was more than full, it was overflowing. Until.....