Sunday, November 6, 2016

Building a Family: Part 3

It is an odd feeling, waiting for a call from CPS.  To be ready to help, but not wanting the horrors of child removal to be a reality.  Perhaps this is how paramedics feel?  Glad to be useful, but wishing their job to be superfluous.

The phone rang the first night of youth camp.  There was no possible way My Darling Youth Minister Husband would be able to leave.  I was single parenting it for our first placement.  My momma and sisters jumped into the deep end with me, heart first.  They came with help and clothes and love.  I could not have done it without them.

It was late when she walked into our home.  Silent.  Big blue eyes staring in disbelief.  Her caseworker was kind, but clearly ready for me sign the paperwork so she could go home.  Approximately four thousand signatures later, I was left with a shell-shocked four year old little girl.  To her, I was just another stranger on a day where strangers took her away from her momma.  Her home.  Her life.

Our first night was hard.  She was deeply traumatized.  Unable to sleep.  Fearful of being in her new room.  Was she scared of being alone or of the dark?  Had she never slept in a bed before?  Maybe she just missed home.  She was too scared to share her feelings with me.  The only way to calm her down was for her to be held and rocked.

Now, we are those parents who let our girls cry it out, so they would sleep through the night.  I also come from a long line of unapologetic "suck it up" parenting.  But not this night.  She did not need tough love.  I sat in our rocking chair with her that whole first night.  The same chair I rocked my two girls in.

I recall rocking and praying for them as babies with such hope and joy in my heart.  But rocking this child was so different.  My heart was breaking.  She had seen so much.  Experienced such deep loss.  My prayers were for healing and peace and comfort.  Heavy tears fell as I prayed for myself and my family to know how to love her.

Oh, to live in a world where there is no need for child protective services.  Until that day, people are needed.  People with open homes and hearts.  People willing to inconvenience themselves for the life of another they may never give their last name to.

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Tips for the First Night:

1. Greet the child on their level.  Shake their hand.  Look them in the eye.  They need to know you see them as a person worthy of your attention.
2. Introduce yourself and all household members (including pets).  If kids are already asleep or someone is not home, show them a picture of the person.
3. Tour the house with them.  Don't forget to show them the bathroom.
4. Offer them a snack and a drink.  They need to know you will meet their physical needs.
5. Paperwork can be done last.  Put the child first.  Many caseworkers will want to get in and out as fast as possible, but they are not the ones in charge.  This is your house, and your primary goal is to make a child feel safe.
6. Pray with all your might.  You are gonna need it!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Hannie--I remember that precious little one. When I met her she was still unable to attach to others, but for some reason she liked me. Very tentatively. And those precious blue eyes that said, "Who are you? Can I trust you? Will you hurt me?" Bruised my heart.

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