Trusting My Instincts
A Tiny Little Girl
I had three foster daughters and my birth child. They were eighteen, thirteen, twelve and nine years old. The eighteen year old (Shari) was seven months pregnant and had chosen to keep her baby. I was helping her in her quest to become independent. The thirteen year old (Lea) was in middle school, and my twelve year old birth child (Ivy), was in the sixth grade. At that time, my twelve year old and thirteen year old were close friends and allies. The nine year old girl (Mona) was having many struggles and was soon placed in a higher level facility that could care for her better than me. The younger girls idolized Shari.
We were cleaning up after dinner and the girls were watching movies and relaxing as they did on Friday nights. I received a phone call from the mother of one of my previous foster daughters. Her name was Linda and she wanted to bring her two year old granddaughter over due to some family crisis. Normally, I didn’t take temporary babysitting jobs, but I sensed that I needed to do this.
Within less than one half hour, a crying toddler was in my home. I was sure she was simply overwhelmed by family conflict and all of my girls trying to win her attention. The grandmother left fairly quickly and I picked up this terrified little girl. She had big dark brown eyes and glossy raven black hair. She also had hundreds of little bugs in her head. A bath was prepared and our little girl (Nina) was put into the bath which seemed to sooth her. Her hair was lathered up with lice shampoo and as she sat in the bath, I sang silly songs and took her hand for a game. She gasped and pulled her hand away from my grip. After observing her more, I realized she was favoring her arm. I also noticed a nasty, painful looking diaper rash. We had no clothes or diapers. We scrounged around and found outgrown clothes and I called a neighbor to borrow a safety seat for the car. One of the greatest challenges of a single foster mom is the lack of a “back up” adult. Children in the foster care system can never be left unsupervised and always must be under the care of a certified provider. My parents were my backup and I wasn’t ready to tell them I had a toddler. We all went out into the night to buy diapers. I cautioned everyone to be careful of Nina’s arm. Ultimately, Nina fell asleep in my bed with me, her bottom buttered up with ointment. The next morning I called the grandmother to let her know that there was something wrong with Nina’s arm and it needed medical attention. The grandmother became tearful and said there wasn’t anything she could do and in fact, she was incoherent.
It took about five minutes for me to decide to take this little girl to the emergency room. We all went to the emergency room except for Shari who was eighteen. As I was trying to explain circumstances to the triage nurse, I noticed two police officers coming into the room. Then I realized another police officer was taking my other girls someplace. That did not worry me, I was a certified foster parent and I was certain things would be sorted out. I was also glad there was supervision for my girls because I was concerned about Mona’s behavior.
Everything did get sorted out. Nina’s arm was broken in two places, and for two months, she had a full arm cast. Ultimately, I got out of the foster care business and became a permanent Mom. Nina is twelve years old and my youngest child.