Fostering: It’s Bananas
Foster Momma Kiki shares her journey as a new foster parent and all that comes with caring for children who have experienced more than most of us ever will
By Mama Kiki
/ Foster / – verb
To encourage or promote the development of….
/ Par-ent / – noun
One who provides for a child or children’s safety and well-being.
Making the decision to become a foster parent was easy, but actually being a foster parent has been a difficult yet joyous journey. My foster journey began 14 months ago, as I completed an eight-month application process. Yes, you read that correctly: eight months, nearly as long as it takes for you to grow and give birth to an actual baby. The day I received my foster care license, I felt excited and scared at the same time. And just as soon as I calmed down from the idea of taking in children, the phone calls began.
Friday – 7:15 p.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, this is Julie from CYFD, we have a 7-year-old boy who needs a home.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi, Julie. Unfortunately I’m out of town, so I cannot take him. I’m so sorry.”
Sunday – 2:43 p.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we have a 16-year-old boy who needs placement.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi, I’m a single woman in my thirties, and as I mentioned in my application I think it may be best for me not to take any teenage boys into my home. I’m so sorry.”
Tuesday – 10:30 a.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we have a 9-year-old girl who needs to be placed in an ICWA approved household.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi, Julie, I’m not sure what ICWA is, but if I am able, I can take her.”
Caseworker Julie: “Well, ICWA stands for the Indian Child Welfare Act, and seeks to keep Indian children with Indian families.”
Momma Kiki: “Julie, unfortunately I cannot take her, as I’m not Indian.”
Saturday – 1:23 p.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we have a 14-year-old boy who is being removed from his current placement and needs a new home without other children.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi Julie, as I have mentioned before, I’m a single woman in my thirties and I think it would be best not to take in any teenage boys.”
Caseworker Julie: “We understand. Be patient, we will find you the right kiddos.”
Wednesday – 6:42 p.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we have a 15-year-old girl who is in need of a 24-hour placement.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi Julie, I can take her, is there anything I should know about her?”
Caseworker Julie: “Yes, she attends school, loves to draw, and is a bit shy. She also has been caught self harming, so please hide any sharp objects.”
Caseworker Julie: “OK, I understand, thank you for the information.”
My first placement came that Wednesday night around 8:30 p.m. Orian, who uses they/them pronouns, was a sweet, quiet, and peculiar one. They were so grateful for allowing them to stay over. Even though it was supposed to be a 24-hour placement, we spent a short 48 hours together, which was mostly taken up by work and school. After our two days were up, I drove them to the CYFD office, where we waited for their mother. As their mother came in, she waved and asked if her child was well behaved with me. Before I could respond, she answered for me: “I’m sure she was. Well behaved for others but not me.”
She took her child and they went on their way. When I arrived back home, I went to clean up my spare bedroom where Orian slept, and found a self portrait with the message, “Thank you, for letting me stay here.”
Thursday, December 21, 2021 – 8:42 p.m.
Caseworker Julie:“Hi, this is Julie from CYFD. We have two boys, one is 9 years old and the other is 2 years old. We are currently at the hospital, but would like to see if you would be able to take them in tonight.”
Momma Kiki: “Hi Julie, may I ask why they are in the hospital?”
Caseworker Julie: “Well, the little one has a gash above his eye, so they have to check it. We can take the older boy to you now, and bring the little one in a little bit.”
Momma Kiki: “OK, that would be fine.”
The 9 year old, who was in fact 7 years old, was dropped off around 9:30 that night. He walked in quietly and was very timid. I introduced myself and asked if he was hungry. He nodded. The caseworkers stated before they left that the younger brother had to go to Albuquerque Hospital, and they would bring him back afterward. I nodded. There we were, two strangers sitting in my living room, watching a kids movie and eating grilled cheese sandwiches. He showered and went to bed, with not much to say. I waited up, I kept staring at my phone, and I fell asleep on the foot of the bed while the boy slept.
Friday – 2:43 a.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we are headed back from Albuquerque. We should be at your house in about a half hour.”
I hung up the phone.
Friday – 3:24 a.m. A knock at the door. As I opened it, two caseworkers walked in; one was holding the toddler. He handed him over to me and stated that they would be calling the next day to get me more information and some resources. They left, and I carried him into the same bedroom as his brother. I laid him down in a crib that I had from my niece staying over a few weeks before. As I laid him down, I realized that he smelled like urine and trash, but I knew it wasn’t right to wake him.
That morning, I woke up in that same room, with the little boy crying for his mommy. I picked him up and said he was safe, and he would be OK. His older brother woke up and gave him a hug. Seeing his older brother calmed him down. As I gave the 2-year-old a bath, I washed off the layers of dirt and cleaned the clumps matted in his hair. I clothed him in new pajamas I bought a few weeks back in preparation. They were a few sizes too big, but they would have to do. The poor little guy was so scared. He did not drink any water for almost 24 hours, and he wouldn’t eat anything. He only moaned and grumbled sounds, no words.
We made our way into the CYFD office before they closed that next day. They had a backpack for both boys, filled with two sets of clothing, pajamas, underwear, diapers, and wipes. They placed a carseat and a booster into my car for the boys, and thanked me for taking them in. Before we headed back to my house, they mentioned to me that they had a teenage sister, who they were still trying to locate. Once they found her, they asked if she could stay with the boys. Without any more information, I agreed.
That first week was a blur. I had to take the week off of work in order to care for them and figure out where they could go the next week, as it was holiday break for the schools. Lucky for me and the boys, it was Christmas that weekend and my family went over the top to buy them new clothes, household items, and toys. It was a wonderful holiday, but afterwards they were a bit overwhelmed. We spent the next week at home.
Friday, December 28, 2021 – 3:34 p.m.
Caseworker Julie: “Hi, we were able to locate the boys’ sister, she was with her aunt. They have agreed to bring her to our office, are you able to pick her up before we close at five?”
Momma Kiki: “Yes, we will be there.”
The boys and I walked into the CYFD office and took a seat. About 20 minutes later, a young teenage girl wearing pajama pants walks in carrying a black trash bag. I introduced myself, and she barely lifted her head up. As we arrived home, I showed her to her room, and let her know she could use the shower, and I would make her some food. An hour later, I brought her food to her room and let her know that we were going to spend the weekend in Pagosa Springs, on an already planned trip. (For those who do not know, in order to take foster children out of the state, you need approval from CYFD in writing.)
This was the start of my foster journey, and I am happy that I am able to share it with you. Next issue, I’ll continue sharing it with you.
Foster Momma Kiki grew up in a loving home right here in Northern New Mexico. A home that openly took in children and teens throughout her upbringing. She learned from her parents the selfless act of caring for others. She currently lives with her husband and three foster children, ages 16, 8, and soon to be 4. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.