It has been seven years since my husband and I became a foster home, now known as Resource Parents. Three years ago we had settled in with our two now adopted children and I had an itch to step back onto the front lines of foster care. My agency must have known, as one night I received a phone call. “Are you available to take a seven month old baby? He’ll be ready in a few hours.” Was I? Was I?! Yikes, a few minutes to answer. My children are toddlers, I didn’t have baby stuff. But I would do it. Yes, we could provide a home.
Luckily that child had found another emergency home by that time. But I had said yes, so the social worker asked if she could put me on her emergency placement list. “Is there a need?” I asked. “HUGE!” was the reply. Alright, we were doing this. A few days later my phone rang again. An almost two year old needed a safe place to spend the night. They were trying to locate a grandparent. Could I meet him at the local emergency room? Sure! I was on it. I felt nervous, but excited to meet this little being. How would I know who he was?
I showed up at the ER. He was easy to spot. A man sitting with a tie, briefcase, name-tag and coffee joined by a small child who was severely under-dressed for the cold night air. Within a few hours I had learned that this child was not going to be an overnight visitor, he would be staying an indefinite number of days. He was not a stranger to the hands of foster care, this was not his first rodeo. He let me hold him and clung to me during his medical exam. His innocence worked its way into my heart and soul. Yes, I would keep him safe for however long was needed.
Two hours later we pulled into my driveway. It was now after midnight and the stress of the day had knocked the energy out of this guy. He was fast asleep and slept through the transfer into our home. In the morning this little sweetie awoke, terrified, alert, silent. Strange home, unfamiliar caregiver, noisy children bouncing around with excitement.
All this guy had was a too-large tank top, a too-small pair of shorts, and one sock. It was raining. It was apparent that I needed supplies, quickly. I had no choice but to load a recently traumatized babe up in my car and drive to no less than three stores. We needed diapers, socks, pajamas, shirts, shoes, pants, jackets. He was unfamiliar with home cooked meals. A trip to the grocery store next to figure out what this silent being might eat. He had to be hungry, it had been 18 hours at least. Juice, granola bars, oatmeal. His face lit up. Into the cart they went.
Hundreds of dollars went into getting the basic items for this little one. Yes, Resource Families do get a stipend and some reimbursements, but it barely covers the cost of the child’s care and often does not arrive for weeks or months. Yes, this money came out of our already tight budget. Yes, I was pinching pennies and only bought the necessities. Yes, this child was worth it.
How can Our Village Closet help? Our vision is to help offset these upfront costs to taking a child into your home. I imagine a place where a Resource Family can go and have access to needed supplies. I imagine a space that is welcoming, calm, inviting. I imagine a Resource Parent and child being met there with warmth and understanding. A place to connect with others walking this walk. A place to access resources, find specialty supplies, vent, cry, rejoice. A place to feel at home and accepted as you come. Our Village.