Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Meeting Joseph

"So who have you got for me?" I asked our placement worker.

It was the same as it was the last time I talked to her. She Jesse and I to take on cases that Jesse and I were really not prepared to deal with. I said no to case after case that she told me about. Let me tell you, some of the cases she described to me broke my heart and it was hard to say no but I knew we needed something easy and straight forward to ease us back into foster care.

Carol gave a big sigh (she did that a lot when she talked to me) and said "I just don't think I've got anything for you right now. You're really going to need to consider ..... hang on a second. Ok, I just this second had a file sent to me that might be right for you. It's a three week old boy who will probably only need to be in care for a month or so. He's in emergency shelter care right now but his social worker is pushing for a quick placement. Both parents are involved and working towards getting him back. His name is Joseph"

"We'll take him!" I said.

Not 15 minutes later I got a call from a woman named Sabrina. She introduced herself as Joseph's social worker and explained that Joseph had some health issues that made her want to find a home for him quickly. She further explained that she wanted to be sure she found him the right home so she was going to be meeting with me and two other foster parents to decide what was the best place for him. I loved Sabrina right away for being so involved. We arranged for her to bring Joseph by the next day so that he and I could "meet" each other. I have to admit that I was excited.

That next day I was a bundle of nerves. A few minutes after the time Sabrina was scheduled to be at our house she called me to tell me she was lost. She was close but she kept missing my apartment for some reason. I went out into the parking lot so that I could look for her car and wave her over. Two minutes later Sabrina pulled. I waited on pins and needles as she maneuvered a battered looking baby carrier out of her car. I couldn't wait to get a look at Joseph.

As Sabrina walked over to me she said "You must be Jennifer! It's so nice to meet you! This is Joseph!" When she got over to me she held the baby carrier out for me to take and I got my first look at the Joseph. He was tiny. His little arms and legs were lost inside a sleeper that was about six sizes too large. All I could think when I looked at him was "I can't take care of a baby this small! I'll break him!"

Once Sabrina and I got inside she began to fill me in on Joseph's story. His mother was 17 and she had not know that she was pregnant until she had gone to the ER for sever stomach pains and she was told "Surprise! You're in labor!" Both of Joseph's parents were considered to be mentally retarded, his father more severely so. Joseph was in care because a week after he was born his mother took him to the hospital because he wouldn't stop spitting up. He was severely dehydrated and admitted to the hospital. His mother never came to get him and CPS took over. In spite of this the social worker who was handling Joseph's case before it was turned over to Sabrina assured her that not both of Joseph's parents wanted him back and were working hard to make that happen.

The difficulties in Joseph's case were that first off, he suffered from severe reflux. It was so bad in fact that there was a surgery scheduled for two weeks from that day to try to fix whatever it was that was making him spit up so much. Second, as a result of his inability to keep formula down and the complete lack of attention that had been paid to him for HIS ENTIRE LIFE he had been diagnosed with failure to thrive. A home health car nurse would need to visit him three times a week to weigh him and monitor his general condition.

As we wrapped up the meeting Sabrina told me that she was going to meet with the other foster families and would let me know the next day which one she had chosen for Joseph.

I looked at Joseph. He turned his head and I could see that the back of his head was totally flat. My heart broke thinking that this poor baby had probably spent his entire life laying flat on his back. Joseph's eyes were serious and dark. They looked like they belonged in a little old man and not a three week old infant. I wanted to cry when I looked at Joseph but instead I blurted out "Sabrina, don't take him to those other families! We'll take him! I don't have any other kids so I can give him complete and undivided attention. I don't work so it will be easy to schedule nurse visits and doctor appointments. I think we would be such a good foster home for him!"

Sabrina looked surprised but after a moment she laughed and agreed. The plan was set then. She would take Joseph back to the emergency shelter home for that night and she would get all the proper paperwork done so that Joseph could come to our home the next day. I was excited that Joseph would be coming to us but I was bummed out that he had to spend another night with the people who couldn't even find something better fitting than a 6-9 month sleeper for an infant who weighed only six pounds.

As soon as Sabrina left with Joseph I called Jesse to tell him the news. "It's a just a short-term placement" I said "but I think it's going o work out really well." Recalling that phone call now makes me laugh. There's no such thing as "short-term" when it comes to foster care and I didn't know it then but this time? We were in it for the long haul.


Sam said...

I've heard of stories where the mother didn't know she was pregnant until she ended up in labor but I just cannot fathom it. How exciting that you got Joseph at only three weeks old!

Kate said...

This story is so great! I can't wait to hear more...

Robin said...

I am loving this story. Thanks for sharing it!

Beany said...

You're doing an awesome job telling this story.

Laggin said...


Lovin' it.

kik said...

This is so interesting and very well written.

I think you will be glad to have it all written out.

Lucky Joseph!

karla said...

I to am with kate. I cant wait to hear more. I check everyday to see if you have written. I have children of my own, have never adopted but your story is sooo great to hear. I love reading your blog as well. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful expierence of your lives:)

Jen said...

sam - sometimes I even forget he was adopted because it seems like I've known him for his whole life.

kate - More is coming soon. Now we're getting to the good stuff.

robin - I love this story too and I'm so glad people are enjoying it!

beany - Thank you. Remind me to pay you back for the cars you picked up for Joseph.

laggin - Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it!

kik - I think it will be a nice thing to share with Joseph some day when he's able to digest it all.

karla - Thank you for your kind words. Adoption is a wonderful thing and I'm really enjoying sharing that with people (although the story has been a bit of a downer so far huh?)

Jozet at Halushki said...

Wow! This is a wonderful story!

And I was looking at the drawing below. The "Oh snap! spider drawing made me literally laugh out loud. What a kid!

Anonymous said...

I have a story very similar to yours. But I got my "Joseph" at 9 days old, straight from the hospital. He will be 25 in August. Margie

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just read your previous post and laughed out loud. Yes, at your. Sorry. :) Margie

Smiling Mom said...

All right. I'm hooked. Must.know.more!!

wheelsonthebus said...

That was just beautiful.

Jen said...

jozet - That picture cracks me up too.

margie - Hooray for adoption stories! And it's ok tolaugh at me. Everyone else does it.

smiling mom - OK, just for you I'll throw another chapter up today.

wheelsonthebus - Wow. Thank you. That really means a lot to me because I really respect your voice as a writer.

nell said...

Still so good! I miss this when I'm away.