I stared at the sweatshirt hanging in the closet for a moment before slowly pulling it off its hanger.
It had been hanging in that spot since April, the month when our 3-year-old foster son, BlueJay, ran through the rain with us from an apartment complex to our car and unceremoniously joined our family. On the second day we knew him — the first day he came to live with us — he was wearing that sweatshirt.
I held the sweatshirt up and marveled at it. It’s cute; brown with a sleek fighter jet splashed across the front. It looked smaller than I remembered, even though I could still picture the way it had threatened to hang off one of his shoulders six months earlier, nearly two sizes too big.
In pictures from that first day, BlueJay’s cheeks are flushed pink from a cold virus and the arms of the sweatshirt billow comically around his arms. These are the first pictures we sent to family and close friends to announce his arrival in our lives.
He wore the sweatshirt often in those early days with us because it was one of the only pieces of clothing he brought with him that wasn’t way too small or way too big. He wore it while he breathed deeply into a nebulizer mask to rid the wheezing in his throat from his virus and while he learned how to share toys with our biological son, Ryan, who was 4 years old then.
He wore it the first time we took him to visit my in-laws, the first family members we introduced him to. I held the shirt up and remembered the way he refused to get out of the car the first time we parked in their driveway. He had been in our care for maybe a week at that point and it was clear: He thought we were dropping him off to live with yet another family.
(This week’s installment of the Foster Parent Diary on the New York Times’ Motherlode blog is the 20th piece I have written in this on-going series, which depicts our experience as a brand new foster family. That feels like a big milestone. My goal from the beginning has been to put a voice to the foster parent experience, so thank you to all who continue to read and share these posts.)