Something I Miss

What I miss is someone and not something (although there are many somethings I missed from his absence). In September 2004, Herr Winter and I were foster parents. We planned on adopting foster children and had already had two babies come and go since July. I was at home when I got the call that an eight-week-old baby boy with a broken leg and arm needed a foster home.

I probably accepted the placement before I called Herr Winter to be sure he wanted to accept the child into our home. Not more than a few hours later the Case Worker arrived at my home with the saddest baby I'd ever seen in person. I was struck by an awful smell that reminded me of rotting flesh and I had to focus most of my energy on holding back dry heaves. He looked like a crusty, dried up potato and he didn't make eye contact or seem to have much life in his eyes. 

Before the Case Worker left I found out that he had a fracture of both lower leg bones just above his ankle and his humerus was broken. The leg had already healed enough to not need casting but his arm was ace bandaged to his abdomen. When she left I felt panicked and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I felt like this child needed more than I was capable of. 

I couldn't think of anything other than getting him into a bath because no baby should smell the way he smelled. I filled the sink with warm, soapy water and started undressing him. As I unwrapped his arm (I had received essentially zero medical instruction for his care), it flopped in a way that reminded me of a fish out of water. He cried in pain and I cried with him. I made him a promise that I would never let him get hurt again and I swear he understood me. Our souls connected in that moment and I knew I would fight for his life as only a mother can.

It took nearly two weeks to get him to smell like a baby. I hadn't realized when he first arrived that he had severe eczema and with his arm bandaged the way it was, his skin literally was rotting.  I did research to find out to care for eczema and got all the best products I could find to repair his skin.

His arm healed very quickly and he began pulling his arm out of the wrap after less than two weeks. At the follow-up appointment with the Orthopedist, we found out his injuries didnt stop at the broken arm and leg. He also had 7 broken ribs. All the breaks were at different stages of healing which meant he had endured significant abuse over a period of a couple weeks. All before he was  two-months-old.

In that moment, finding out he had ten broken bones, I felt my chances at being his mother were very high. Herr Winter and I did everything that was expected of us as foster parents and we fully integrated him into our lives. Although he continued having fairly regular visits with his birth parents, we felt there just couldn't be any way he would leave our care. 

Boy were we wrong! We fought for him for 2-1/2 years before the judge released him back to his parent's care. We were devastated. So much had happened in the time he had been with us that made us think he would remain with us. His case was unusual and we did everything we could to protect him from the dangers he faced with his family. The stress we were under during the time he was with us was tremendous but we have so many wonderful memories of times we shared with him.

He is going to be a teenager this year and it is so amazing to think if I wanted to (and was brace enough) to contact him, I only have a little more than five years to wait. He is always in my thoughts and is a presence in our home through pictures we have displayed in our home. Foster parenting is a tough gig but so needed because any difficulties foster parents face is tenfold for the child. If you have it in your heart to be a part of the foster care system, there are many ways that aren't quite as demanding on your emotions as being a foster parent.

That's putting the cart before the horse, though. We're here to get you married. Please contact me today to schedule a complimentary consultation. I'd be pleased to guide you through your wedding ceremony.

Rev Jessica Winter