I am a volunteer in a therapeutic foster home for very young children who have had prenatal and/or environmental exposure to drugs. I typically spend my time with the most active babies in the home—the “older kids” who range in age from five to eight months. They get around a little more, there are more opportunities to play with them and they tend to be more responsive (or so I thought) to therapeutic play and interaction. I had not spent that much time around the littlest babies before, at least not until last weekend. After spending the morning with the older kids, I went to where the newborns were cared for. I first held a little girl who was just waking up—about two months old. She was tiny, a little pale, fragile, and still suffering from the effects of her mother’s addiction. Some of the caregivers said that she didn’t smile, but I got a meager little grin out of her. It wasn’t like some of the other kids where a smile was big, full of life and took over their face. Her smiles were a bit weak and feeble. I had spent time with her weeks before when she seemed premature—barely ready to leave the womb and still shaking from her exposure. It was comforting to see her growing and improving. After spending some time, talking to her and playing gently with her, I placed her on a blanket on the floor to give her a chance to move around a little. It amazes me how babies sometimes just like to look around and take things in. Not long after setting her on the floor, one of the new arrivals began to cry. One of the caregivers asked if I wanted to hold him. I think she felt I needed to be encouraged to pick him up because he was so young and small. He was olive-skinned and red-faced. He had a tiny head but did not seem frail, just small. I had seen him when he first arrived and had tried to console him when he had the tremors. Now when I was holding him he seemed awake and alive. He even was able to smile a little when I spoke in soft tones to him. He seemed responsive, much more than I had expected. He was a beautiful boy. I had always preferred being with the older kids, since they were active, responsive and just more fun. But these little ones had such a quiet energy about them that I didn’t appreciate before. This little boy who was struggling with his exposure and addiction had such a presence about him. I was amazed by him. He tried to cry a couple of times. When the care-giver asked if she should take him, I said no and walked around rocking him over my shoulder and speaking his name. It made me realize that I want to adopt a very young child–hopefully a newborn. I absolutely want to experience my own son as a newborn. I want to be around when he is this age, with this kind of energy. I don’t want to miss it.

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