(Yes! That’s a picture of her beautiful face!) This week, I spoke with one of our foster baby’s Biological Father. Since Baby Berry was reunified in late December (at eight months old), he has been gracious enough to allow her (and us) to remain a part of each other’s lives. Scott and I see Baby Berry about once a month. In April, we hosted Baby Berry’s First Birthday Party, here, at The House on High Street. I’m still pinching myself that Scott and I actually have a “part” of one of our foster baby’s life!
A Tribute to Baby Berry ~ Our Second Foster Baby
I’m not sure why, but it never dawned on me to ask Berry’s dad if we could show her face, in photos, on social media. “I’m offended that you even asked. You’re like family!”, was his response. (Which honestly surprised me.) We spent eight months with this precious baby girl, and hid her beautiful face and big blue eyes from social media. Now, we can show you just how beautiful Baby Berry was! (Inside and out, really.)
So, here is my tribute to Baby Berry. The little sweetheart who came into our lives when I needed a “light”. It was during the time we were losing our first foster baby girl (Baby Banana) after two years. Baby Berry literally kept me going during those potentially dark few months. (Dark, not because Baby Banana was reunified. Because the process was traumatic for Banana, and therefore Scott and me.) Berry was like my bright, shining light. Which brings me to the story of her name…
That’s her real name. Believe it or not, I named her! I know. Hard to believe, because even though many foster parents assign nicknames to their foster baby (to maintain privacy for the Bio Family), I never heard of one being named by the Foster Parent after the baby is reunified. Baby Berry’s initial name (I will keep that private) was given to her by her Biological Mom. Unfortunately, her Biological Dad (his name is John ; ) didn’t even know if she was his baby! The Bio Mom named her and quickly fell off the scene. Let’s just say she is no longer a part of Elena’s life. As soon as John was identified as the baby’s biological father, naturally, he was disappointed that he could not name his baby girl. (Not to mention, he did not like the name her mother gave her.)
After John and I met (before Baby Berry was reunified), he asked for suggestions on her name. It was becoming clear that her biological mother was not motivated in being a part of her life. And, John really wanted a different name for his daughter.
Since we lived close to the Biological Mother, we did not want to share her name in public. So, we referred to her as Elena and/or Berry. (The name, ELENA, means bright, shining light.) When I told this to John, he said, “I like it. It suits her. Her name will be ELENA.” John liked this name for two other reasons. The first of the two is rather obvious. ELENA is a beautiful name. Also, he wanted to allow Scott and me to feel a significant part of her life. (Wow. Significant. Someone pinch me!) He said think of it as a Thank You, for taking good care of his baby girl for eight months. (Wow. Thank You. Someone seriously, pinch me!)
Here’s another extraordinary part of Berry’s story. Turns out, her Biological Father is pretty extraordinary! He is fairly young. In his his mid twenties. Obviously, young enough to still live a single guy’s exciting and spontaneous lifestyle. John could have waited for a partner to help him with caring for Elena. He could have waited to save up money. He could have waited for when she was done with bottles and diapers. He could have taken his good old time so that he could enjoy a little more free time. But, no. John worked hard to get his baby home ASAP. It’s sad enough, to him, that he was not a full part of those first eight months.
So, you may be wondering why John didn’t have Berry after he was identified as her biological father. Unfortunately, Berry’s Biological Mother did not include his name on the birth certificate. Therefore, it took several months to even obtain a court order to do a paternity test. (Don’t ask why it took so long, because that is something I do not understand.) Also, Berry’s Biological Mother told stories that were not true about John. She later rescinded her story and admitted that she was lying. But, it was enough to make the delay even longer. In the several months before Berry was reunified, John’s mom passed away from cancer.
Thankfully, John does not reflect on the past, because he just wants to enjoy every present moment with his daughter. Still, it just goes to show how “broken” the foster care system can be. There’s so much work to be done. That’s why I’m happy to share my foster stories. I want to try to educate new foster parents and hopefully advocate for changes that will truly put the child’s best interest first.
Well, I am very excited to have permission to share some photos of Elena’s beautiful face! I leave you with my Favorites. (Amongst hundreds that I gave to John the day she was reunified.) Now that you have a face and a name, I’d kindly request for you to keep her in your prayers! That’s one thing that is an honor for me, as a foster mommy. I believe God hears my prayers for these babies that he blessed me with (even for a brief amount of time).
Well, there you have it. A name and a face to our second foster baby. I pray that all foster families can have experiences such as this one. Nothing beats having the Bio Family and Foster Family working as a team for the sake of a child. We will always be grateful for Berry’s Dad. And, may God bless Elena all the days of her life.
Thank you for reading.