Jade and Lori
A #OneChildNow Story
“Ohhh great…” Lori grunted to herself. She knew exactly what this phone call was about. There’s only one phone call that ever comes in at 1am in the morning. Placement.
“Just don’t answer it” Lori’s husband grunted as he turned over to the other side. He was obviously only half awake but he also knew exactly what the call was.
“I don’t know…should I ignore the call?” Lori thought to herself. After all, she already had two foster kids at the house. Yes, she did technically have another bed, but that’s only because she had two boys who could share a bunk bed. Two kids were her max. But Lori had a strange feeling. It’s not the first time she had been called to take in a foster child when she was at her max, but it was never at 1 am in the morning.
“They must be desperate,” she thought.
“Hello, Mrs. Phillips?” the voice said on the other line after Lori grunted out a “hello.” Her voice was still groggy.
“Sorry to wake you, Mrs. Phillips, but…” Placement began to say on the phone.
“How old is the child?” Lori interrupted. The voice on the other line paused to let out a deep breath.
“Her name is Jade. She’s four years old.”
“Well, my file states I’m only taking ages 1 – 3. Plus I already have two boys…” Lori started but was then softly interrupted.
“I am aware of that. You are the last person we’ve called tonight.” The voice softened and Lori could tell that she was this placement call’s last hope.
“The truth is that Jade has been in foster care for about a week now and I have used every home I’ve got. She’s been in a different home each night. If I don’t find a home, Jade will be spending the night in my office. So, I thought perhaps we could at least give her a bed and I’ll pick her up first thing tomorrow morning.”
It wasn’t the first time Lori heard this story. This scenario was often the case. She had said both “yes” and “no” in the past. Sometimes, they bring the child over and don’t pick them up until almost three days later. It’s just the way the system works sometimes.
What Placement didn’t know was that earlier that day, Lori was exhausted from a near-breakdown from the children she already had. The last thing she wanted was to deal with someone else. And an older child for that matter. Lori knew she was in the right to refuse another child.
But then Lori remembered.
She remembered the night she had to sleep in the office when she, herself, was a foster child years ago. She remembered the feeling of no one wanting her—no one extending even a bed to sleep in. Yet, truthfully, Lori didn’t become a foster parent because she, herself, was once a foster child. She became a foster parent because she believed no child should ever be taken from a bad situation and not be given the chance for a better situation.
“Lord, give me the strength” she prayed to herself right after she agreed to take the child.
Jade got to the house right after 2 am. Lori was not looking forward to the morning. While Lori was happy to help this child, she was also exhausted. She just needed to get the child in, get the child to bed, and then try to get whatever sleep the night would still allow.
Jade walked in. Quiet. Unsure of the surroundings.
Lori had two rooms. One for a boy and one for a girl. She had an empty room and bed because she had two twin boys who were sharing the bunk bed. Naturally, this room was decorated for a girl.
Jade walked over slowly to the bed, climbed in, and began to pull the covers over herself.
“Would you like me to tuck you in?” Lori asked Jade.
Jade looked at Lori but didn’t answer. Lori was a bit puzzled. She was pretty certain Jade understood her. “Why the pause?” she thought to herself.
“Where will I be tomorrow?” Jade asked in a soft, sweet, innocent voice.
“I’m not sure, hun…” Lori stopped herself. Jade was on the verge of tears. This little girl was so overwhelmed.
Lori wasn’t the “I-must-save-the-world” type of person. She was compassionate but also knew where to set boundaries for her and her family. She became a foster parent because she wanted to. Not because she felt guilty. But this was not guilt that Lori felt… This was pure concern. This child obviously had a story. While Lori wasn’t certain of the situation Jade came from, she knew that the most traumatic experience she’s ever faced was right now – in the foster care system.
“You’re staying right here, sweetie,” Lori answered Jade.
Jade didn’t go anywhere the next day. She stayed with Lori another four months before being reunified with her parents. Jade came from a home of unfortunate circumstances, but her parents loved her very much and worked their case plan very well.
Twenty years later, this story was all that Lori could think about as she sat next to her new best friend, Jade’s mother, as they both watched Jade walk down the aisle in her beautiful, flowing wedding dress. Even after the reunification, Lori and Jade’s family had become very close and she and Jade shared an unbreakable bond.
As Jade walked towards the front of the church, Jade caught Lori’s eye and winked at her playfully. “I love you, Aunt Lori,” she whispered.