Our family has been extremely distracted by the addition of Nina. We have also been united in our feeling for her. My older daughters are now: almost 18, 13, 12 and 9 years old and very helpful. The fit is almost magical. Nina has been very deprived of almost everything a toddler needs for mental stimulation. By accident, our household provides a very rich environment for a two year old. I have most of Ivy’s toys and picture books. I kept things like wooden puzzles, blocks and a juvenile table and chairs. There is always a big sister to read to her, or play. My girls have a very important role in Nina’s sense of security and well being. I have taken two weeks where I have not scheduled any appointments for Nina because we need to nurture our family unit. As the flurry of activity settles and I am not meeting with social workers or going to the hospital with Nina every morning, Shari and I have a cup of coffee on the patio with Nina playing nearby in the yard.
I have missed my talks with Shari. Shari is my bonus; she is a foster child who needs the support of an adult and a family but she is also a friend. She is the adult child who astonishes you after the teen years with her mature reasoning and humor except that she didn’t belong to me when she was a little girl or a developing teen. I think as we are together, I would have loved her as a little girl. Shari needs to tell me something. Finally, I pause in my endless chatter and look at her, remembering she needed to talk to me. She looks me straight in the eye, somber. My first thought is that she wants to move. Our house is too crazy; too many temper tantrums, and now, a toddler. She can’t stand it, like the high school.
Shari says quietly but clearly: “I am pregnant and I am going to keep my baby.” I will not insult her by discussing her options. She has confirmed her pregnancy on her own, as an adult. She has clearly thought about this. I want to help her and support her in any way I can and that is what I tell her. We talk more about prenatal care, clinics, and the fact that we have to tell her social worker. We talk about the fact that she has almost completed high school with good grades and she must get her diploma.
I am so relieved that she doesn’t want to leave, I almost cry. I am sad that she will have so much on her plate so young, but I know Shari will care for her own infant. I don’t have to say a word. I tell her the name of the women’s health clinic Janet (a previous pregnant foster daughter) used and Shari leaves to go make an appointment. I know that she will get herself to all prenatal appointments and she will practice good self care. I will research additional services available to her because she will not be a foster child much longer and she's going to need a lot of help.