Once all the boxes have been checked, all the hoops dutifully jumped through, there comes a wait.
It varies for everyone, depending on your availability for number and age groups. Our family focuses on newborn/infant placements. While it hasn't been possible for us to have a large family with our fertility challenges, we're really good at the baby phase. Our lives are set up to absorb the shock really well.
I've been self-employed as a contractor for over a decade. I work for my dad and a few of his business partners. My work life is very flexible and able to hit the pause button if I need to because of other life circumstances. I can accept or decline contracts at will, sometimes I don't have much work for months at a time, sometimes I work every spare hour I can squeeze out of the nights and weekends. It's fluid. For the last decade, it's always seemed to ebb and flow perfectly with our family's financial and time needs. It's been an exercise in careful budgeting and trust in the lean times and saving and planning in the flush times.
This unusual balance allows our home to be a place that newborns can weave in pretty readily. Sometimes I'm working enough that we need a few days of daycare coverage each week, but mostly, it's okay if I can't get anything done during the day for six weeks until daycare is possible.
Many times, babies coming into the foster care system do so for a short time while extended family arrangements are ironed out. Being the stopping point on the way back to family gives everyone a little breathing room to figure out what's best.
Most times, there's a component of drug exposure with newborn placements that requires intense physical care. It's rare for a baby to be pulled from a mother's care without some kind of drug exposure because they're just starting out together, and few things can indicate such an early need for intervention, other than drug exposure (previous neglect or abuse histories with older siblings would be another reason).
Right now, our country is in the grips of an epidemic. Opiate addiction means some states have more babies with exposure history than homes to put them in. These, and other drugs, profoundly affect the neurological, digestive and nervous systems. Concerns can range from profound brain anomalies to poor circulation and food allergies.
In the case of many of these exposure borne differences, nurture changes the baby's world. Constant and vigilant services, therapy and care can make a change in the baby's ability to heal and develop that changes the trajectory of the rest of their lives.
This is why we wait for babies. Not because we think they're the cutest, or we don't want to handle other traumas, but because we've discerned this is the mission God gave us with our unique gifts. Our lives can expand to babies who only sleep 45 minutes at a time because their nervous system is so damaged. We have the resources and the support network to advocate well for early intervention therapies.
So, when we wait for a placement, our home is open a little longer than it might otherwise be, but we wait, with a certainty that God uses our gifts in perfect synchronicity with the special needs of a newborn foster placement.