Foster Care, Foster Love

Tracy laughs these days when she recalls her very first placement as a Children’s Friend foster parent.

“They called me at work and asked if I could take a newborn. All I heard was that a baby needed a home,” Tracy recalls.

She agreed to the placement immediately, then panic ensued. It was 2 p.m. She was at work, and her home was not baby-ready. She left the office early and got the place ready before Baby Benjamin arrived.

Like many new parents, Tracy marveled as she watched him sleep. She took countless pictures of his little expressions. “He was just so adorable,” she recalls. “On the first day, he grabbed a handful of my hair and looked right at me.” It was the beginning of a very special bond. 

Benji went everywhere with her in those early days, and their bond grew stronger. But little did they know, another special bond would soon develop.

The first time Tracy met Benji’s birth mom, she said: “Your baby is loved, and he is well cared for. Go do whatever you need to do.” 

Clara, the baby’s mom, remembers that day, too.

“I wasn’t thinking, I was just in ‘go mode.’ All I could think was ‘Oh my God, I just want my son back.’  You hear all these scary things about foster care, but Tracy just had my best interest at heart.” Tracy treated her respectfully, Clara said. “She didn’t have to ask my permission for things, but she always did.” 

As they got to know each other better, Tracy saw that Clara had nobody to lean on, so Tracy became her support system.

Three months later, a judge ordered reunification. Clara had not had any unsupervised visits at that point. One was arranged, and it went well. Another was planned, and the judge said that Benji was to remain home at that time and not be returned to Tracy’s care. 

Clara quickly became overwhelmed caring for her baby. “I wanted him back,” Clara said. “But he hadn’t been with me for three months.” 

Tracy reassured her, “We’ll work this out.” She began taking Benji for a day or overnight, allowing Clara to go to her own appointments. Tracy would sometimes pick him up from daycare since Clara had no transportation. Their bond grew stronger.

Together, they navigated the pandemic, working through their fears for Benji’s safety. The two women did errands together, including pediatrician appointments and grocery shopping. At first, Tracy would show Clara what to do. Then she backed off and watched Clara manage it herself, once her confidence grew. Within two months, Benji was at home full-time, and Clara felt she had the tools to be a successful parent.