One Day the Telephone Rang and Life Changed
By Dierdre Littlefield
I was a Sunny October afternoon and I was at a playground watching my five-year-old son hang out with his pals when the cell phone rang.
That’s odd, I thought. As foster parents, sometimes we’d get calls requesting overnight housing for a foster child. But this call was from the adoption department.
“Sit down,” the social worker said.
What is going on?
“Can you take a one-week-old baby? In an hour?”
The baby, who had been born substance-exposed, was six weeks premature and weighed just four pounds. The worker had called me in hopes that I could care for him while his mom got healthy. If his mom didn’t improve, then the baby would stay with us and have a luxury that very few children in foster care experience—one placement.
Fear gripped my chest.
“I have to talk to my husband,” I said, hanging up the phone.
“You’ll never guess what that was about,” I told the two friends who had joined me at the playground.
“Oh run and go get him!” squealed the baby-loving friend, jumping up and down.
The other just looked at me, uncertain.
Each expressed exactly what I was feeling inside.
I rushed home to ask my husband, who was mowing the lawn. I have never seen him count so fast, speeding to the age he would be at this newborn’s high school graduation. Then he smiled.
“Of course we can take him,” he said.
We were both scared of how our biological sons would react to this baby. What would we tell them if the little guy had to leave? What if we got too attached? But our fears were not as strong as the desire to give this brand new baby a loving, stable home—whether it ended up being a temporary haven while his mom got well or a forever home.
We decided to jump in and let faith lead the way.
Within the hour, that beautiful baby was delivered to our door. He was tiny and frail, but oh-so perfect. Our home was suddenly filled with so many emotions; the love we felt was immediate, overwhelming, and contagious.
He was my third baby but it felt so different and scary because he didn’t actually belong to me. And, I felt totally unprepared. My sister and I even had to google how much food to feed a preemie. The social worker had brought me some diapers and a can of formula, and his biological mom had sent a few outfits along with his bottle. I managed to dig out my portable crib. But that was all we had.
The next morning I woke up with the intention of doing some new-baby shopping but was met with a surprise I could not imagine.
“Oh my goodness!” My eyes widened at what was before me.
Neighbors, friends, and acquaintances had heard of this precious new baby and dropped off everything he needed: diapers and wipes, onesies and clothes, a carrier, and even a carriage. I was embarrassed accepting these gifts, especially since I was unsure whether or not I would be able to keep the baby.
“This baby deserves the best!” many assured me. And they let me know that these were not gifts for me but for him—whether he stayed in our town or not. This still brings tears to my eyes as I remember it. I will forever be grateful for the love and help my community extended to me that first week.
The entire experience was not an easy process, but it was definitely worthwhile. Almost four years later, we did adopt that little boy. Now he is a mischievous, capable, funny young man who we cannot imagine our lives without. The lessons he has taught my family and me are endless, just like our love for him.
Dierdre Littlefield is a mother and freelance writer and blogger.