I know, I know. I asked everyone to nominate a female teacher to celebrate this week. While I have some good nominations (and still accepting more!), I just had to share this amazing story.
When I announced a few weeks back that I was getting ready to have my first child, Trudie contacted me and said "Oh...and you'll do just fine with that new baby..I've had 79 of them (in 30 years of being a foster parent, I took 79 drug-affected, special needs, medically fragile newborns) and I survived. Oh..and I had three birth kids too."
(Above, Trudie and her family on a vacation. Trudie is all the way on the far left.)
And I said "Whoa, wait a minute! You've raised over 80 children? Amazing! I have to share your story with my fans." Because, I just love celebrating wicked awesome women. Having spent the last 4 weeks caring for a newborn that does nothing but poop, pee, sleep, eat, and exhaust me, my admiration for Trudie and her husband has only grown.
So, I asked Trudie a couple of questions about being a foster parent:
Why you decided to become a foster parent, particularly to special needs and fragile newborns?
How did I get into fostering..? Sort of by accident. There was this baby we knew that went into foster care..and we didn't realize that between training, inspections,and background checks it would take about four months to get licensed. By the time we had our bright shiny new license, the baby was all settled and there we were with an empty crib , and "Sucker" printed on our foreheads.
We didn't set out to specialize in the drug-affected, special needs, medically fragile newborns...but we got our first baby, and I found out we were very very good at what we were doing. Foster parents often don't get much training for babies with specific needs. It's sort of on the job training. When we get that call from HomeFinders ("Trudieee...we have this Bay-bee....") that usually means I will be spending anywhere from a few days to six weeks up at the NICU every day working with baby and the (great) NICU nurses, the OT, The PT, the docs, the feeding therapists, the respiratory therapists....
Most of our little ones require special handling that is really counter intuitive as far as baby care goes. For instance, many of our babies can't be looked at while they eat. You can look at them, or feed them, but both at once is too much stimulation. Instead of "Suck, Swallow, Breathe", They go, " Suck, Breathe, Choke, Turn Blue, Quit Breathing..."
Did I mention this is what I do for fun?
And what has been the hardest moment to get through while raising these 79 children? How did you persevere?
(It's) Hard when they leave, of course, but we still see many of our babies and some now have babies of their own. Um..dealing with the bureaucracy can make you scream. Sometimes the rules that must sound so good at the State Level can prove (a) disaster when they are actually put into practice. But the very hardest thing for us, I think, was when, after 30 years, we finally let our license go a couple of months ago.
I hope this gave you some useful information. I LOVED being a foster parent, and there are never enough foster homes to go around.
Let's give a big thank you to Trudie and her husband for their hard work raising so many children who needed a good foster home! I hope you are as inspired by her story as I was!
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...