It's 1:50 a.m. and if I hadn't done it earlier, I could change the clocks at 2:00 a.m. as the newspapers and anchormen remind us to. Instead (because I set my bedroom alarm clock in the afternoon, because that's the clock that really matters), we sit here waiting for a teenager to arrive. A teenager we haven't met yet - and we don't even know his/her name. We were told the sex, the age, and only because we asked, the circumstances of why this teen needs a bed in the middle of the night. From the relief in the worker's voice when we agreed to take the teen overnight, I think we were a long way down the list of emergency foster parents; those who would consider taking a child on very short notice.
One part of foster care that isn't often talked about is called "emergency foster care." Usually, kids come and go during weekday, daytime hours, but that isn't always possible. Things happen at odd times, too. A parent gets detained or arrested and there's no one to call to stay with the children; a teen runs away from home, foster home, or other residence; or some other circumstance. The story is never the same. Once we had 3 preschool-age children, including a baby in an infant seat, arrive at midnight, because the parents' meth lab in their home was "busted." The children were very thirsty, very dirty, and very upset and crying over the disruption to their "normal" life.
Lots of things go through our minds as we begin to wake up, and make preparations for the new arrival. Tonight, our first realization was that Hugger is home overnight, and is in the bedroom we need for this child. Oops! He's cooperative, although confused, and moves across the hall to sleep in Whistle's room. I check the room, taking out anything that could be dangerous or tempting to a teen, and make up the bed. Then I check the bathroom, and then wait. Will it be an angry teen, fed up with the system, and be at risk for running away? Will this be one who needs medication, and will they have it with them? Not likely. Will we regret that they don't have their medicine, and haven't had any all day? Possibly. We were told that this child would be picked up tomorrow by another agency, and transported elsewhere. Will that actually happen? Maybe. But maybe not.
Update: unknown teen is here, is tired, and is cooperative. At least for now. My first impression is that this will go well, and for that, I'm thankful. Morning telephone calls should make the transfer plan for later in the day, and we'll see what happens. Back to bed now, and hopefully we'll get a little more sleep before morning comes.