By: Deirdre Littlefield
It was a beautiful October afternoon that we had spent at the local playground with my five-year-old son and his buddies. My DCF worker called and asked if I could take a one-week old baby within the hour. He was born with drugs in his system, six weeks premature at just four pounds. She explained that the baby was not legally free so, ideally, would reunite with his biological family. She had called me in hopes that I could care for him while Mom got healthy. If Mom could not, then the baby could stay with us and have the luxury that very few children in foster care do have — one placement. I was scared and told her I’d have to speak to my husband. I hung up the phone and shared the news with my girlfriends. One friend, who loves tiny babies, jumped up and down and told me to run to get him; the other looked as unsure as I was. I rushed home to ask my husband who was mowing the lawn. I have never seen him count so fast as he blurted out his future age at this newborn’s high school graduation — eighteen years away.
We were scared to take this baby for our biological sons. We wondered what we would tell them when this guy had to leave. What if we got too attached, was the next thought. All of these fears were not as strong as the desire to give this brand new baby a loving, stable home — whether it was a safe place while his Mom got well or if it was forever.
Within the hour that Tuesday, he was delivered to our door. He was tiny and frail, but o so perfect. My sister and I googled to learn how much food a preemie should eat. He was my third baby but it felt so different and scary because he didn’t actually belong to me. The social worker had brought me some diapers, a can of formula, and his biological Mom had sent a few outfits and a bottle. I had a porta crib from the others but that was about it. It occurred to me how much I had acquired for my other babies arrival home and how little a newborn actually needs.
I had planned on doing some shopping the following day and woke up to the biggest surprise imaginable. So many neighbors, friends, and acquaintances had heard of this precious new baby and dropped everything he needed from diapers and wipes, to onesies, clothes, a carrier, and even a carriage. I was embarrassed accepting these gifts, especially unsure if this baby was mine. They all assured me this baby deserved the best and they were not gifts for me but for the baby — whether he stayed in our beautiful town or not. This still brings tears to my eyes when I remember it, and I will forever be grateful for my community that first week.