She called me today, like she does every few months, to tell us how she’s doing and ask about the kids. She always calls from a different number, but for ten years now she has remembered mine.
She used to spend holidays away from the group home with us, and we loved her so very much… but we told ourselves we weren’t ready to start a family, so we continued to spend holidays and weekends with her until she was moved to a group home too many hours away.
Today I got to tell her about our new baby! Baby number three, another girl! She was excited and laughed, asked some details about the baby and congratulated me. Then she broke me with one quick question: “Miss AK, why when I was young you didn’t want all those kids?”
Holding back tears, I responded, “I think about that often, and I so wish we had been ready back then.”
“Y’all did so good with me, I woulda thought you were ready.”
I wish we had been, and truth be told, we talked about it a lot… and if we’re really being honest, we could have been ready - we had room, we loved her tremendously… but we were scared. We were still fairly new to marriage and Louisiana, we couldn’t see past what our lives looked like right then and there.
Several years after she moved, she was back in south Louisiana and we got to see her again and introduce her to our first daughter. She was 16 by then. She sat across the table from us, asked us a question, and answered it before we had a chance to respond. Since that day I have not been able to get these words out of my mind:
“Today my worker told me how many placements I’ve had since I been in foster care. I was really shocked. Do you know how many he said? Fifty eight placements.”
Fifty. Eight. Placements.
Between the time she was eight years old and that visit. Eight years. Fifty eight placements. And zero families willing to commit to love her and call her their own for the rest of her life. Zero. Please let that sink in.
And don’t assume those years had no effect on the outcome of her life. She’ll be 21 soon and since we’ve known her she’s been in and out of jail, back and forth from foster home to group home to shelter, aged out of the system, been rejected by family, suicidal, used illegal drugs…. She calls when she’s doing great, she calls when she’s in jail, and she calls when she’s feeling depressed. I’m so grateful she calls, I hope she always calls for the rest of her life. But even more than that, I wish we had been ready. She was worth being ready for.
Are you ready?