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  • Writer's pictureKristin Freudenthal

"Baby A" or When We Don't Get A Choice

"Baby A" was a very unusual situation. We had received a call about him while we, Jess & Kris, were away from the farm going to fetch supplies from the "local" shops (40 mins away). We had said we would be happy to help with his situation but we needed some essential paperwork before we could accept him. Yeah... that last part must have fallen on deaf ears.

A very passionate (and actually very caring) social worker heard a yes in what we said and showed up at our farm gate asking to be let in with the child. The directors immediately turned around and came back to the farm, as we were about half way to the shops at the time. But by the time we made it back, the baby was already in our custody, being left with the house mother on duty, and the social worker was already on her way back to her office. It was a whirlwind to say the least. Thankfully, the social worker filled us in on the phone and sent us some paperwork to show why he was with us.

Baby A had some medical needs we weren't familiar with yet. Having only one other baby at the time of his arrival, we honestly hadn't dealt with much at all with this system. But while he was with us, we were able to get him to the local clinic to be seen for several of his issues. And our friend Jess, did some amazing detective work and found a well-trained doctor in the town that our shops are found (a much larger city than where we live) that was not only skilled in the area that Baby A needed help, but was understanding of his situation as a foster/safety child and offered to help us for free! On top of that, the medical braces this baby desperately needed, but were well beyond our financial means at that time, showed up in a miraculous way through a co-worker of Jess who just happened to bring them with them when they came to South Africa on a business trip. They brought them because their own child no longer needed them and they just felt like someone in South Africa could use them. Baby A was that someone! What a generous God we serve!

Shortly after we received our fourth baby, Baby A's family started asking after him. As we learned later, they had been trying to find him since he was removed and were working hard to prove they could care for him well. We had not been to court yet for Baby A, which was very unusual for us. But we trusted this social worker. We still trust her and the other social workers we work with. But we've learned to get paperwork for anything anyone says in relation to these kids for our own protection/records.

As it turns out, his temporary placement with us had yet to be approved by the courts when Baby A's mom and grandma found his social worker and her supervisor. This was not an oversight, just to clarify. A mom has to be sober to sign papers for a child to go into temporary placement. The social worker struggled to find her sober whenever she went to see her, which explains why they didn't know she was their social worker. Nevertheless, Baby A had been with us safely for just over a month. For perspective, a temporary placement generally lasts 6 months unless otherwise stipulated at the initial court hearing. But because the papers had not been filed, and the family had not been "notified" (even though they had, they just didn't remember it), Baby A was actually not allowed to stay with us. A day after he met his new doctor and got a diagnosis, we got a call that we had to return him to his family the following day. We had one day's notice to not only say goodbye to this little boy that we'd fallen in love with, but also prepare all of his medications and devices, prepare instructions for his family to help him continue his treatments and schedules, gather all of his keepsakes and supplies, and notify his sponsors. It was hectic, to say the least.

The following day, we reported to our local DSD (department of social development - social workers) office with Baby A and all of his belongings. Unfortunately, his social worker was so sick that day that she was actually admitted to hospital. So we sat in the waiting room for hours while they figured out who could help us with this process. While we waited, Baby A's mom, uncle, and grandma came and joined us in waiting. Finally, we were in a private room to meet his family properly, to give them the needed instructions for how to help him succeed, and handing him over to his very grateful family.

While this was not the outcome any of us had envisioned, it was what happened. I will say, that his family valued him much more after we handed him back than they appeared to do before he was removed. So if nothing else, it helped them to understand their responsibility for this little human being and it gave them access to tools and medication they may not have been able to get without our help. His separation also allowed them access to resources through DSD to better their living situation and gave them time to sort out some income sources to make live better for everyone living there. We didn't know we were helping this family. We were just focused on helping Baby A. But by focusing on doing what's best for Baby A, we ultimately helped everyone in his family and gave them some much need hope for the future of their child.

As God would have it, He orchestrated a meeting with Baby A and his grandma a few weeks later. We were heading to a clinic we don't usually go to in order to track down a specialist for one of our other babies and the get records we needed before court the next day. As we got turned around in the town where the clinic was located, our car (perfectly named "Miracle") made some noises as if something fell off of the back of the car. We stopped dead in the dirt road. And who should walk right in front of the car as we did? Baby A strapped to his grandma's back! I (Auntie Kris) and our staff manager (Auntie Tarren) were able to not only cuddle Baby A one more time, but check on his health and hear from his grandma how well they were doing to meet his needs. We were also able to introduced grandma and Baby A to our newest baby in our backseat and explain how blessed we were to help these children.

While we gushed over our former resident, two men overheard us talking and decided to work on Miracle while we chatted. By the time we said our goodbyes, they had finished "repairing" the car. When I told the men working that I didn't have any money to pay them for their kindness, one man walked away mad. The other man yelled something at him as he left and turned to me and said, "You take care of our children. We owe you." To this day, that statement rings out in my mind and brings tears to my eyes. What a kind and gracious God we serve!

Now, fast forward over a year. Baby A's situation has changed again. His family is struggling again, for different reasons that we honestly do not shame them for. Unfortunately, he no longer falls under the passionate social worker he had before. And we have struggled to find out who his new social worker is. We were able to go for a visit with him to take photos and share info with the DSD office. Because of this, they were able to step in and do a safety placement for not only Baby A but two older children who were now living with the family. He was not returned to us as we hoped. But this is because they did not want to separate him from the children he had become some familiar with in the year he lived away from us. But he is with the other children in good hands and is getting cared for by other safety parents/homes. So while the story does not end the way we would like, we know who the Author is of this story. And we trust Him completely to care for this baby, and the whole family. We know He has His eyes on this child. And He will continue to do more for him than we could ever imagine.

The story of Baby A is a hard one for us. And, as I'm sure you can tell, we can't tell you all of the details to protect those who are just doing their best with the resources they have. But this story is a prime example of how we at Abba's House, the directors, the staff, the housemothers, and the sponsors, all have to grow in our faith with each and every child that we take in. Regardless of what happens after they leave us, they were with us for a purpose and we praise Him for trusting us with them. No matter how long or how short their stay with us, we know we did everything possible to make their lives better. And while we do not get to control what happens after they leave us, we trust that the seeds of faith and purpose that we have planted in their souls while they were with us will grow one day into a mighty forest set apart for God's glory. That may sound preachy, but it's the truth.

We thank God for Baby A and the story his visit told in all of our hearts.

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