Few women know instantly if they are pregnant. For most women, waiting to find out whether or not they’re pregnant requires waiting between a couple of weeks and a month. As high-tech as pregnancy tests have become, most cannot accurately detect the pregnancy hormone before a woman has missed a period.
For women either especially eager to have a baby or especially eager not to, those weeks of waiting can be torturous. Every day is a question mark. Every free moment is a mental journey into the land of What-If. Those hoping for a baby try to hold down their hopes and quash their thoughts of pastel sleepers so as not to be too disappointed if it is not to be this month. Those praying not to be pregnant spend a month trying to assure themselves it won’t be—it can’t be. And yet their minds take them to a place where indeed it might be — and what then?
I have somehow joined this group. Not because I’m pregnant, but because we received a phone call from our past foster daughter’s mother. T is in foster care again, haven been taken from her father’s home where she has lived for the past two years since leaving our family.
Teenasia lived with us for over a year, and when she left, we promised both her and ourselves that if she would ever end up in foster care again, she would be as welcome here as our own three children are.
For a month and a half, Teenasia has been in a foster home with an elderly woman. For some reason, when she was taken from her father’s home, no one checked her records to learn about her year with us. I have spoken to her social worker almost daily since Teenasia’s mom called us, and the social worker and her supervisor have been trying to cut through the bureaucratic red tape to transfer Teenasia to our home. Hence the waiting. I feel like I might be pregnant with an almost-five year old. An almost-five-year-old whose past two years may have very well been more difficult than anything I will experience in my life. Knowing the signs we received before Jamie came as a foster daughter, Bill and I are looking for signs in this situation. We’re finding them.
Several days before her mother’s call, Bill had a dream that we adopted Teenasia. Both of us dream of her every so often, and I didn’t think too much of it when he told me about it. The morning following his dream, though, he went to give platelets. There, at the Blood Center, he saw an enormous picture of an African American girl who looked very much like Teenasia. Later, walking out of the Blood Center, he saw another photo, this time a close-up, of the same girl. When he got home, I asked him how it went. All he said was, “Something is up with Teenasia. Something’s wrong. I can feel it — we need to call her.” That day was Liam’s 8th birthday though, and we were busy with the party. The next day was my high school reunion, and we didn’t call then, either. Driving home from the reunion, though, Bill and I planned to call T the next day to set up a visit. Her mother called us early the next morning before we had that chance — called on my birthday.
The weeks that followed that phone call were (and still are) emotionally-charged. Bill started going to daily Mass to pray for T and for God’s will to be done in her situation. The first day he went, the first reading was from Jeremiah, all about lamentations of a hurt daughter. That same day, I picked up a newspaper I rarely read, glanced at an article and found it was about children just being in our care for a short time—that they belong to God and we should consider all children as our own. While Bill was watching Jamie in the kiddie pool section of a water park, a small African American girl walked up to him and after asking if Jamie could swim, said simply, “It took me a long time to get here,” and walked away. And the next day, I picked up a bowl at my sister’s house and noticed words on the rim. I tend not to like pithy sayings and got ready to make fun of it in my mind as I read it. “There’s no such thing as somebody else’s child,” it said. I put it down carefully.
With days to go until we find out if Teenasia will be moved here, there’s not much we can do except pray and wait. If she does come, she will come as a foster child. If she does come, she will likely live with us for awhile, only to be returned to her father after he once again completes the requirements needed to get her back.
I once wrote, when Teenasia lived with us the first time, that when Jesus said, “Love one another,” the words did not come with a guarantee that there would be a future with the ones we love. I wrote that Jesus’ commandment is a promise that love transforms, but is not a contract for a tomorrow with those we love. We’ll see if I can believe those words one more time. We’ll see how we do at living with the heartbreak of loving a child and then letting her go, once again. No matter what, our pain will be easier than what Teenasia will go through, and that’s what I plan to remind myself of, during the difficult days.
Am I pregnant with an almost five-year-old? I’m preparing, but with hesitation. I’ve bought some size-five clothes and some shoes, but not too many. We have a bed ready, but I haven’t cleared out drawer space yet. We’ve told our children she will probably come, but if it doesn’t work out, we’ll keep visiting her, just like we did before.
Preparing with hesitation, I have joined a group of women who wait to know if a child is on the way. A group of women who know that if the answer is yes, everything will change.