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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Entry 160: 1982 Charlie Comes Home

We were waiting to hear confirmation Justin had become legally ours when our social worker called.   I wasn’t surprised to hear her voice.  I was a little surprised when she asked me to sit down for our conversation.  My heart immediately jumped to my throat.  I thought she was going to tell me we were losing Justin.  Instead she said his mom was about to have another baby and we were considered family because of Justin.  He was being offered to us.  Another baby was not my plan.
After hours of careful consideration and lots of prayers we decided we couldn’t handle another baby.  My life was so busy taking kids to school, picking them up, taking them to games, to church activities, shopping and everything else.  How could I possibly handle another one? 
We thought we’d made the right decision but God slowly, over the next few weeks, made us aware we had made a mistake.  We began losing sleep.  We became irritable.  We started feeling something was wrong or missing in our home. 
We had told our kids a new baby had been offered to us.  We told them we were considering it.  We hadn’t told them when we decided against it.  After a few days Adam asked when our new baby would be coming.  We told him we had told our Social worker we didn’t think we could handle another child.  Adam looked at Larry then at me.  With a very hurt and puzzled look on his face he asked, “How could you take away our baby brother and not tell us?”  We realized what was wrong in our home. We realized it was Charlie that was missing.   
Larry called our social worker and explained to her we’d had a change of heart.  Our whole family was in total agreement we just had to do everything we could to get this little guy into our home. 
Once a child is placed the county tries not to move him or her any more than absolutely necessary.  We were told because he’d already been placed, and placed in another county, we might have a hard time claiming him.  God started opening doors.  As it turns out Charlie had been placed in a Foster Home with an older couple who only wanted a child on a temporary basis.  The social worker assigned to him knew our social worker and agreed to help in any way to move this little boy to our county.  Within a few days we got word Charlie was to be ours.  What a relief. 
Like a lot of babies, Charlie was a surprise for us.  When he came home our hearts and house was filled with an unexpected joy.  Almost exactly one year after Justin came into our home Charlie joined us.  Charlie was three months old.  It meant another big escape from school for the three older kids. 
We arrived an hour early for our appointment to get Charlie.  When the social worker walked into the waiting room carrying Charlie, he said in a big booming voice, “We have a little boy here who needs a family.”  We all jumped up and started toward this stranger holding our new family member.  Larry reached him first and put out his arms to greet his new son. 
Larry gratefully took Charlie into his arms and turned him to be face to face so he could get a good look at this new little guy.  I’d bet not a full five seconds passed before Charlie got a funny look on his face and threw up all over the front of Larry.  In a flash Larry located me and quickly passed Charlie to me.  I cleaned him up and everyone took a turn holding our new baby. 
The family who had fostered Charlie was a Spanish family with several grown children.  Charlie had some medical problems when he was born.  This wonderful foster family had taken turns holding him around the clock for weeks until the symptoms had passed.  I will always be grateful to them because they could have given him drugs instead and they cared enough for Charlie to choose the same thing I would have chosen to help him through that time.
Charlie came home with everything he’d ever touched in his foster home including all the clothes he’d ever worn.  Taped to one of the bags of belonging was Charlie’s itinerary.  His day was divided into fifteen minute blocks with something marked in every block even if it was napping or sleeping for the night.  Along with this list was an alert warning that Charlie chokes a lot when he’s eating and that he throws up a lot after he’s eaten. 
When we were settled into the car with all five kids strapped and buckled in I opened the diaper bag containing Charlie’s food.  Inside I found several bottle of Gerber toddler foods such as lasagna and beef noodles.  To drink there was two empty bottles and four cans of orange juice.  Orange juice and chocolate are the two things my doctor told me never to feed a baby before their first birthday.  I figured maybe that was why Charlie was loosing his meals.  When I saw the toddler food it all made sense.  Maybe his foster family had been grinding the food up before feeding him but, either way; I put him on rice cereal and formula as soon as we got home.  He never had another problem eating or keeping his food down. 
Another thing included in Charlie’s belongings was a wonderful album full of pictures of Charlie from day one.  What a difference from Justin’s foster family. 
Adam was in first grade.  He had me bring Charlie to be his “share” on “share day.”  Charlie was too small to put in the middle of the circle of children.  I sat on a little chair holding Charlie.  Adam stood beside me.  As each of his friends came to look at Charlie Adam was proud to repeat, “This is my new brother, his name is Charlie.”  When Adam’s best friends came by he introduced them to Charlie calling them by name as if Charlie would understand him.   
Finally, our family was complete.