January 12, 2008

The Babies

Sitting at my computer attempting to shake off my day in foster care, I linked to this picture. It felt shockingly familiar! I am always a drama queen but there was something gripping about the babies...most did not look unhappy. I do not know the photographer, but the picture was powerful and I began to cry. There they were!! OUR BABIES, barely out of the womb....abandoned, neglected, drug exposed and tossed in the the bureaucratic bucket, called foster care. But it was the little shark in the bucket that frightened me, the unnoticed tiny enemy. There are so many little enemies that can hurt a child in care, inadequate bonding, delayed health care, undetected developmental problems....the list goes on. Hopefully everyone does their part to avoid the sharks in foster care.

It is time to reign myself in! So I replay the words of a foster parent I spoke to earlier. "Oh Mrs Ginny, she is the most precious little baby girl, she was my little blessing when they brought her to me yesterday!" Ms C explodes with delight! I ask about the three older girls in her home, their parents' rights have been long ago terminated, they will never return to their families. "They just adore her! Oh , if you get a chance, will you tell her mama she is being loved and we are taking very care of her! Oh how I wish my other girls could have their mothers too, but just isn't so." She says sadly.

Then I remember another baby. He's the big baby in the bucket. I can see him smiling. From the moment I sat him on my desk, he conversed with me, cooing, laughing...really talking in that unknown tongue babies use, but usually not at 4 months!! So bright, so smart! I paraded him around to the development and fiscal depts, everyone oo..ing and ah..ing over this precious baby boy. But it was only as I engaged him did he really respond, otherwise he looked with caution at everyone.

"Buddy..I have to say good-bye to you now," I sat him on my desk again and gently ran my fingers over his tiny fro. "You have a great visit with your mom, I know she loves and misses you! You are going to have a good life, you will grow up to be a good, strong man...." I pulled him close for one more hug, "You are going to go far in this world Buddy!! I just know it" I passed him off reluctantly.
Having four girls, we had lots of baby dolls. Most were loved initially when new and novel but eventually cast aside naked in a toy box, under the bed or left outside. From time to time I would gather them up, redress them and tuck them back in baby carriages, doll beds and chairs. But I often thought they were happiest whether dressed or naked when they were in one of the girls' arms being loved and cared for. I pray our babies in the bucket will find loving arms too.

January 3, 2008

Baby it's cold outside!!

As I stood waiting for the train this morning, shivering in the bitter 30 degree weather, I was remembering those mornings in Elverson, PA. Mornings like today bring back memories....

On cold mornings long ago, I would jump out of bed and throw on a trench coat and furry slippers. Quietly, I'd slip downstairs, turn the furnace themastat from 55 to 65 and let myself out the back door into the bitter winter air. As the biting wind whipped my nightie around my knees, I'd gather my coat and tuck it between my legs to keep it from blowing around. Swinging the ax over my head I quickly split a small pile of wood and carried it through sliding doors into our family room.

It only took minutes before I'd kneel warming my hands over a roaring fire! First rays of morning sunshine never appeared on those days as I awakened the girls from their beds piled with blankets. Sleepily they'd dress for school and the first ones downstairs could sit right on the raised hearth drinking their cocoa before the dancing flames of the fire.

But my well built fire that delighted my children, died by mid-morning, chores had to be done and gloomy skies filled the windows that day and perhaps many days after that! After we moved to Florida my dad once left me a phone message.

We haven't seen the sun for 17 days!". he bemoaned in great dismay.

Today as the wind whipped around me, I wasn't in my nightie on the train platform, though I was just as cold. I smiled listening to Floridians discuss the weather, there is no in-between when cold weather hits Florida. It is either hated or loved. For me, it's not the temperature but the sun that shines almost everyday in South Florida that warm my heart.... and those memories of long ago. It is also the incredible sunrises and sunsets we see daily that keep me going, and makes me so grateful to live in South Florida.

Yes..."Baby..It's Cold Outside"....but here in South Florida, it's not gloomy!