Submitted by Alissa Rieth, foster parent with KVC Kansas
The main goal of foster care is to provide a safe, temporary home for a child while his or her birth parents overcome challenges. This winning story, part of our Annual Story Contest, details the amazing relationship that a mother formed with her infant son’s foster mother.
The phone call came on a cold January morning. My head swam as the KVC worker rattled off the details. Bradley, a two-month-old baby boy who had severe medical needs that would require frequent doctor’s appointments, had been removed from his home and needed to be placed in a foster home.
“Can you pick him up right now?” the KVC worker asked me. This is how our story began. I had no idea what I was in for or what might lie ahead. But I was all in.
When I met Bradley, the nurses warned me that he was not very interactive. He hadn’t smiled or cooed in the week he had been there, so I wasn’t ready for what happened when they put him in my arms. I looked down into his beautiful deep brown eyes and said, “Hello, baby boy.” He broke into a huge grin that brought tears to my eyes. The nurses stood there in disbelief.
After five days of caring for Bradley, I was with a case worker in the lobby of a KVC office waiting to meet his mother for the first time. I was a bundle of nerves not knowing how she would react to me or to her baby. It’s difficult to put into words what it was like to meet Rose that morning.
As she excitedly rushed in to see her son, I was amazed by her beauty and the depth of kindness in her eyes. She ran right up, pulled me into her arms and whispered, “Thank you for taking care of my baby. I have been praying that he would be safe and loved. Only God will ever repay you for what you are doing for my family.” We both immediately started to cry.
I learned that Rose had been trying to support her four children for a very long time. However, an incident occurred in her home while she was at work that resulted in Bradley becoming injured. As a result, he was rushed to the hospital and soon all four of her children were removed from her home.
Those first few visits were difficult because Rose was only seeing her baby for one hour, twice a week in a small meeting room at a KVC office. However, with the wonderful help and support of her case worker, she had soon completed all the things she needed to move the visits to her home for longer periods of time. It was during these visits that Rose and I began to form a bond and to build a lifelong friendship.
Twice a week I brought Bradley to Rose’s apartment for visits. She would have tea brewed and ready for us to share, and she couldn’t wait to hold her son. Over those cups of tea I would fill her in on new things he was doing, like how he was sleeping and what we had been up to between visits. We also talked about what next step she was working on to get her children back and how her job was going. At times we even shared our feelings about the whole process and how these circumstances were shaping her faith as well as mine. I watched as KVC walked along side her to complete each step in the process. There were times when she was frustrated but also times when she was grateful for the help and knowledge that she was receiving.
On the summer evening of the day that Bradley returned home to his mother, our families came together and shared a meal in celebration of their reunion. We ate, told stories and continued getting to know one another better. As the night drew to a close we stood in a circle – two different families, two different cultures – and prayed for the future and also in gratitude of all God had accomplished through this little baby.
I had Bradley in my home for almost seven months. He is now an extremely happy and social nine month old boy who loves to squeal and give kisses. He is close to crawling, and all of his injuries have healed. He is a delight and a miracle – all rolled into one chubby package. He has brought so much joy and happiness to our family, and he brought two people together that otherwise may have never met. Because of this sweet little boy, Rose and I have forged a friendship built on trust, love and a shared faith in a God of beautiful miracles.