So I heard from them at last, the fostering agency. I had been waiting for the call all week this week. I expected it Monday, and each time the phone rang I imagined it was them. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the case. Tuesday was no different and by Wednesday, I was becoming very angry and frustrated. Frustrated and anxious.
For some strange ironic reason, as my anger, frustration and anxiety built up memento my phone, and mobile I must add, rang less times than it normally did. The telephone calls had completely petered out by Thursday and Friday left me wondering if I still had a live line. I found myself wanting the sale terrorists to call, if only to confirm that yes, I did have network. By Friday I had my mobile on full charge twenty-four-Seven and I guarded the house phone with unbridled jealousy like a disgruntled child would tenaciously cling on to its favourite toy. By mid-day, (Friday) I had called my house number using my mobile. When I heard the house phone ring, the elimination of poor network was resolve.
The day crawled to a slow end, or so I thought. Five PM had come and gone and nothing still... My mobile went 'buzz buzz buzz' and I kicked myself for not remembering to take it out of buzz after our return from the cinema the Thursday night. Good thing I was home and in a quiet place at the time. If my children had been in the house, not out in the garden, I could easily have missed it. Their racket is a story for another day. You can begin to appreciate how anxious each new hour and minute was bringing me onto the brink of insanity.
The caller’s number was not displayed so with trembling fingers, my thumb accepted the call. “Hello” I said, concealing my excitement.
I hissed into the phone realising it was an insurance salesperson, wanting to foist some payment protection on me. Where was his call when I really needed it? I had just replaced the mobile on the table, still forgetting to reset it to ring when the house phone went.
“Hello” I said from the second time in as much minutes. It was them! It was a full quarter past five o’clock in the evening (all right afternoon) and the agency was still at it. God bless them! The foster agency had finally called and my nerves were just beginning to settle.
“Please, Can I speak to Mrs Joblowski,” the high pitched voice from the other side of the line went after the traditional introduction. Her name was Kim, she sounded very professional.
I ignored the fact that she had just referred to me as “Mrs”, or that she had joined my two names to concoct a brand new name for me and that she had missed out two alphabets had been dropped altogether from my surname.
“Speaking” I said and waited, eager to be told I had a child, in a car somewhere in the city, was waiting for me to pick him (or her) up.
I could hear Kim fumbling through some paper work and punching furiously at her computer keyboard. You will understand why in a moment.
“Jo Bloglowski?” Kim wanted to be sure. She got it right this time, she had slowed down.
I said I was and she apologised “I thought you were...“ Her voice faded away...I knew what she meant to say. ‘I thought you were a lady, girl, whatever. I just was not expecting a man!’ no doubt. And I felt like saying back to her: ‘Just get the facts right! Get the file out or at least look to see the flaming title! That way, you would get a hint of my biological sex at birth (controversial in this day and age) not to call me Miss, or Mrs Bloglowski!’
“Yes, my name is Jo” I reaffirmed.” It was the least I could do to stifle the flaming embers lodged deep in my sidings of my guts. “Jo Bloglowski. I think you have the names merged into one. Jo is my first name.”
But Kim was not the first to mistake me for being female. It just happens that I have a name some parents like to call their girls. The name Jo happens to be unisex, like so many other names...’Charlie’, ‘Alex’...’Kim’.
Sex and name confusion out of the way, it was all a matter of identity check. All professionalism was out the window as she took the apologies to an extreme level, emphasizing “Mr” and sniggering as she did. She ran me through a myriad of security questions; I confirmed my postal code, date of birth, password on the original online application; the works. By the time she was done I was exhausted and disappointed she did not venture into asking for my bank account number and PIN for all my on and off line activities.
Convinced at last, she muttered: “I see.”
Anyway, it turned out she was calling to advice me on what was to happen (in chronological order) and most importantly, to inform me of the health check I needed to prepare for. Other than that, they had nothing new to say to me.
“Does it mean you have found me a foster child?” I asked and kicked myself for saying the word ‘foster’ before ‘child’. A child is a child, and I should be seeing them that way, not stigmatise or label them before hand. I heard her chuckle. We were even now, the playing field was level once again and she returned to full professionalism.
“No,” Kim informed me: “We just need to get the health check out of the way.” They did say on my initial enquiry that there was a health check amongst the numerous checks and re-check that were to be done.
They were particularly concerned about blood tests (HIV to be polite) my psychological profile (if was schizophrenics were common place in my family) and lastly, my body mass index (code for fatal obesity). I promised I would be challenging my local surgery to thwart their suspicion. It did not really matter if I had any of these illnesses, Kim told me. They just wanted to know what kind of people they were entrusting the care for of the poor children into for risk management. They were going to hold all this information about me, only so that they could map out, not only my destiny, but that of the child’s as well. The one thing they ironically did not ask for is if I had ever been diagnosed for cancer or any terminal disease. I could be languishing in pain for all they care, my follicles soiling my pillow as I sleep after a night in chemo, or be bleeding to death from a gun-shot wound and they did not want to know about it. But so long as they knew I had the tendency to go temporarily crazy, stab my neighbours with an AIDS infected needle and throw my obese weight on the poor child that was all right. It was worth the risk.
Kim proceeded to inform me that it may take up to three weeks for me to get an appointment from my doctor, or go private to save a day or two, pay a fortune to the same doctor who would have the tests done anyway in three to four weeks time and then wait another three to six weeks after for them, the fostering agency, to get the results from my GP. I braced myself to wait for the phone in another seven to eight weeks; but I still wonder how Madonna managed to cradle David in under one week, and I thought, if only...if only I was that fluid.
Hunting for time, I looked at the screen on my mobile phone. The digital clock must be wrong, I said to myself. It was gone past eighteen hundred hours! Unbelievable!