Bringing Joshua Home
Photography Credit: Chris Walcek
It’s 4:21 in the morning and I’m rocking a 4 pound premature, baby in my arms. He came to us after being in the NICU for 43 days. And now he is here, home with my husband and I. Looking up at me as if to say, “Is this my home? Are you my mom? Are you the one who will feed me, hold me and comfort me when I cry?” His eyes are already a sparkling blue and he has wisps of blondish hair. He looks nothing like me. Because he is not mine. There is not an ounce of my blood running through his. He’s someone else’s baby. I am a foster mom.
The foster care matcher called us on a Wednesday, “We have a baby named Joshua Isaiah and he needs a place to call home. ” The nurse led us down the aisles and aisles of babies in the NICU. I watched as mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and other loved ones surrounded each struggling baby. They held their babies hands. They brought songs, they brought stories, they brought religion and they got to bring their babies home. But, there was one baby without all of that. Without a single loved one to surround him and bring him home. I knew that tiny baby lying alone must have been Joshua. He was our little guy. We took him home 4 days later; just 4 days after that initial call from the foster care agency.
"We took him home 4 days later"
We had almost no time to prepare. There was no luxurious baby shower. No surprising gender reveal. No nine months to think about names, nurseries or which car seat we wanted. What the doctor said I’ll never forget. He said “More than anything this baby needs love now and the rest will come.” We knew we could give him that. We knew the rest of the stuff would come. The wonderful NICU nurses mothered Joshua for those 43 days. And those same nurse mothers made sure we left the hospital that day with a huge bag full of premie baby clothes so Joshua would have clothes to wear. Family and dear friends pulled together in the 11th hour to be sure that Joshua had a crib, formula, and diapers.
Day after day, month after month and finally a year passed as child protective service workers made their best efforts to help re-unite Joshua with his birth parents. Many people said “I don’t know how you do it, I would get too attached.” But we knew better. We knew babies need to get attached and they need to feel and know that we are attached to them.
"They need to feel
so that they can understand it..."
They need to feel love so that they can understand it and then attach again and again to others who they love and who love them. It wasn’t easy though. This little boy was starting to call me mom. The joy a mother feels when her baby first calls her “mom.” But, for me with that joy always came pain. Pain because for so many months I never knew if I would be his forever mom. So many times I was afraid to hear the phone ring because his caseworkers were actively searching for a relative to take Joshua out of our home and back with his biological family. Yes, I’m a foster mom and I knew that all of this could happen and we were trained for this, but still that pain is real and no amount of training can prepare you for that moment when a child you love is taken from you.
The months went on and our caseworker soon realized that Joshua’s biological mother was unable to care for him and his father could never be found. We hoped for closure, for answers and for Joshua to find his forever home. A year and a half later, the judge decided it was best for Joshua to stay in our family forever. I would never have been a mother if it wasn’t for Joshua’s biological mother. Together the two of us are his mother. One keeping him in her womb for 7 months and the other waiting for him to arrive. I’m sad that his biological mother and father could not keep Joshua safe and healthy, but ever so grateful to them for creating Joshua. I do remember one moment at court when I was talking to his biological mother. I’ll never forget the words she said. She said “I prayed for Joshua to find a family just like yours.”
"We adopted him on a glorious November day."
A day filled with such joy because in that moment we knew Joshua would have us always,
there would be no more fear of him leaving. A day also filled with sadness because his biological parents were not able to care for him. On adoption day we surrounded Joshua Isaiah.
Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and dear friends circled around him. We sang him
songs, we told him stories and we held his hand. Joshua Isaiah had finally found his forever home.
Things weren’t always this easy
That smile you see -
It wasn’t intended, it wasn’t expected
He was supposed to be home
with Mommy and Dad
But things didn’t go as we all had planned
Cries for a mother who couldn’t be there
It was all Too much for one to bear
No medicine to fix this kind of pain
Dear Lord please help me I’m going insane
But through each long night
We held on tight
Determined together to win this fight
And then one night
you called me “Mom”
I grew into your mother
And you, my boy became