August 12, 2014 began like a fairly regular day.
I got Grant and Isabel off to school and headed to work.
Shannon was out of town doing a week intensive for seminary at Duke.
I sat down at my desk and the phone rang.
The caller ID indicated it was DFCS. The voice on the other end was the head of the department. She said, "Mrs. Baxter, I know you said you would take a child four and under. What about zero?" I nearly choked. Zero? What did that even mean?
I asked, "Zero? Does that mean newborn? Does that mean a baby is on the way?" My questioning in part was due to how weird her phrasing was and the fact that you are told repeatedly in your foster care training classes not to expect an infant. I was thinking we'd get a call for a one or two year old at the youngest.
She said, "Four days old. He needs to be picked up from the hospital today."
I asked the questions they tell you to be ready to ask and found out that the baby was a boy of African American and Hispanic ethnicity who had two older siblings in care in another home. He would be in care for a while.
And with that information, I explained that Shannon was out of town. I was at work. We had absolutely nothing outside of a pack n play for a baby and that I would need to call her back.
I sat at my desk and trembled. Then, I cried.
Of course we'd get a call when Shannon was out of town.
Of course, it would be for an infant. We hadn't had one of those in our house in over five years!
Of course, I would feel a deeper peace to move forward with something than I had ever felt in my life -even though there were too many logistical pieces to solve.
I got to work making phone calls. I texted Shannon (he was in class, remember?) with something like, "Call me. Now." I talked to my co-workers who talked me off the ledge, helped me work through the logistics, and encouraged me to follow that still small voice in my heart that was saying, "Yes."
I called my mom who I'm pretty sure thought I was crazy and told her I was going to pick up a baby from the hospital later that afternoon.
"Can you come spend the night? This is big. He's going to be here for a while."
Of course, she came.
I notified friends who had been praying for us throughout this journey. They helped to soothe my nausea and quaking heart. They brought excitement and joy. They made plans for soccer practice and after school for Grant and Isabel.
As I was getting all this together, I realized, "Oh no! The kids can't find out they are getting a new sibling from someone else. It has to be me." I looked at the clock. It was 1:57pm. The school didn't allow for check outs after 2:00pm. I had to be at DFCS by 3:00pm. The school was close. I could make it.
I flew into the front office at 2:02. I asked to check out Grant and Isabel. The admin staff gave me the evil eye and went to tell me the rules. I blurted out, "I know. I'm sorry. We are getting a foster baby. I have to be there at 3:00. I have to be the ones to tell the kids. I really need to get them."
They, of course, obliged. I tried not to cry for the millionth time.
I told the kids we were getting a baby and that I was taking them to the church where various people would shuttle them around until I got done. God bless them. They seemed cool with it. They asked, "What's his name?"
I had no idea.
I headed downtown and finished filling out our paperwork at DFCS. We hadn't even fully become legitimate foster parents. Shannon could come in when he got back and do his part.
They sent me to the hospital where I met his caseworker and an investigator in the lobby. I think at this point I asked his name, but I honestly can't remember.
We walked to the nurses' station where they explained I was there to pick up the baby. They escorted me to a small, dimly lit room where I waited and talked with the investigator.
Nurses kept coming in and telling me thank you for coming. They were worried about him and were happy to know he had somewhere to go.
Others came in and asked if I needed bottles, diapers and formula. Yes, please. I had nothing. They loaded up a hospital diaper bag full of all the essentials to get me through the night.
Another one brought me one form to sign. One piece of paper to walk out of the hospital with this child. That part is still unbelievable.
I looked and there was a lone car seat with a small diaper bag sitting in it. His birth mom had brought those with her for him. The straps weren't set right for an infant. I asked if I could get the car seat ready. The investigator and I worked on it together.
Then, the door swung open and a nurse rolled in a babe wrapped in a swaddle to this small, buzzing room. There he was. Just laying there. I could barely see his smooshed face.
We continued to talk. He started to whimper. I asked if I could pick him up.
After all, he wasn't mine. I didn't know the rules.
They said, "Yes."
I held him and that was it. It was all over in that moment. I was attached and there was no turning back.
I put him in his car seat, grabbed my bag full of goodies and walked to the car. I strapped him in, took a deep breath and said, "Alright, Asante, let's go home."
I called my mom. She was almost to my house. Praise God. That had been quite overwhelming and I needed a hug.
I came home to my dining room table piled with baby clothes, diapers, and all the things you need to get started. This moment is why it's good for your friends to have keys to your house. What a surprise!
My mom and I got to work on getting the pack n' play set-up. I couldn't for the life of me remember how to do it. I looked at her and said, "I feel like I'm losing my mind."
We quickly reflected on how I had just crammed what most people do in nine months into about five hours. I decided to give myself a little bit of grace.
We got it figured out and settled in for some snuggles with our new little guy. I remember holding him and thinking, "Wow, I'll remember every part of this day for the rest of my life."
Our friends brought the big kids home. Other friends came over to visit. He easily met about 20 people that night.
It was beautiful. It was the body of Christ at work. It was holy.
I came across this company called Goods and Better recently. They sell merchandise that carries messages about foster care and adoption along with supplying for the needs of children in foster care with each purchase.
They recently released a shirt that says, "Yes, I get too attached." I had to get it.
I was too attached from the start and so were all the people that love Asa.
Too attached feels a lot like the way of love.
Too attached feels just right.