I have been writing this letter in my head for almost 14 months, and it's time to put it on paper, because within the next couple of weeks you will be going to be leaving us to go live with your forever family. You won't remember anything I tell you now, and I don't know if I will ever see you again to tell you these things.
Some day I'm sure you will ask your Mom and Dad about your birth parents, because people always wonder about that. But, I don't know if it will ever occur to you to ask them who you lived with before you came to live with them. I've been choosing pictures lately for your Life Book, and I've picked a few that have me in them, holding you. I have to admit that I want you to notice me in those pictures, and ask who I am. "Is that my real Mom?", I imagine you asking, wanting to needle your adoptive mother. "No", she'll tell you, "that was one of your foster parents".
Foster homes are sometimes in the news in a bad way. You hear about kids being "shuffled from foster home to foster
home", and you might wonder whether that happened to you, since you won't remember it. Even in the "good news" stories you hear about people who have fostered hundreds of children over decades, and as adults we wonder how they can be devoted. As a child you might wonder whether they had time to love and care for them all, or whether it was a revolving door of kids, interchangeable like the shoes and backpacks that get handed down from kid to kid.
I wanted to tell you how it was with us. My husband - we called him your Uncle Mike - and I had only been foster parents for less than a year. You were our second placement, and you were our first baby. They called me on a Wednesday and said "We have a infant born yesterday, and he's being discharged from the hospital tomorrow". They told me how much you weighed - over 8 pounds - and that your Apgars were 9 and 9, which meant you seemed pretty healthy in the first few minutes after being born. They asked "Does that sound okay?", I said "sure!" and ran around the rest of the day, excitedly telling family and friends and running out to the grocery store to buy formula and a sleeper that I knew would fit. I picked up bottles and clothes from one friend, and another friend dropped off diapers and other stuff she knew I would need. I was SO excited to be having a baby to hold and love and feed and take care of.
You came the next day. Your worker brought you from the hospital. You were wearing a yellow sleeper and hand-knitted hat, and one of those cozy things that zips over a carseat, since it was February, after all. You were sound asleep in the carseat, a tiny bundle of brand-new person. Your worker and I had lots to talk about, and eventually you woke up and started crying a little bit. I picked you up and you stopped, so I kept holding you in my arms. Before your worker left she stressed how important it was for you to attach to me, so that you could transfer that attachment to another mother later on. I looked down at you and said "I think we were attached the minute I picked him up". I decided that I would be your Auntie Kay, because someone else someday would be your Mom, and I didn't want to take her title.
I hope the Life Book tells the story of the next 14 months better than I could in a letter. We took you everywhere, not just the park and the library but to parties, concerts, and restaurants. You met the entire extended family on both sides, because you were with us for a whole calendar year and got to go to every family celebration, whether it was a summer weekend at Uncle Mike's Mom's trailer or Christmas at my parents' place. Everybody thought you were just the cutest thing, and wanted to hold you. We loved you just as if you were our own baby, and you didn't spend a single night away from us until you had your first overnight with your adoptive family.
My son is 15, and I do remember what it was like when he was born and he was a baby. If I ever had doubts whether someone could love an adopted child or step-child in the same way they loved one that was biologically theirs, you cleared them away in a hurry. You brought so much joy and life into our house. Even the cats, now, seem to kind of wander around bored when you're not here. Fostering is incredibly difficult and we aren't likely to do it for long, so you will likely remain the one and only baby we fostered, the cute little guy whose picture will be on my piano, frozen in time, forever six months old.
If I can convince you of one thing through this little piece of writing on paper, please know that you were loved. You were loved so much, every day, from when you were only 35 hours old. All those days you can't remember and might worry about, you were held, cuddled, and cared for. My son loved you and called you his "cute little baby fo-bro". Uncle Mike might not say it out loud, but I know he loved you. Most of all, I loved you. I don't know how many years will have passed before you read this, but rest assured that if I am living, I love you still.