Another one of those fears

So, I’ve had this fear since the day that we started looking into becoming foster parents.  The scenario goes something like this, I walk into a store, stop to get gas, or I’m at a doctor’s appointment with one of our babies and I see a member of their first family.  The family member wants to hold baby, talk to baby, or take baby from me.  I get upset, the family member gets upset, baby gets upset, and drama ensues.

Today, I got to live out that very drama.  I use the words, “got to” lightly and very sarcastically.  This morning, I accompanied another foster mama taking her twin babies to get paternity tests done.  The babies are very tiny and medically fragile, so I went along to help.  After we were done getting the tests done for the twins, we prepared to leave and there she sat, a member of my foster daughter’s biological family.  If this person was kind, sweet, or even remotely tolerable this might not have been a big deal, but she’s not.  She has inflicted pain on “my” baby.  She has been a source of strife throughout the entire family since day one and she is a big reason why the babies are in foster care to begin with.  She has yelled at me, lied to me, talked down to me, tried to intimidate me, and she is definitely NOT who I was hoping to run into today.  The only solace I found during the whole ordeal was that Baby Girl has NO idea who this woman is anymore.  Baby Girl was only six months old when she first came to us and now at almost two years old, she does not recognize or remember this woman.  This woman does; however, remember her and one of the first things she tried to do was to take Baby Girl out of my arms.  She started in with questions about the case and berated me for not sending her recent photos.  I have been told by DHR countless times that this woman has NO chance of getting Baby Girl or Little Man in the end and that I am to feel no obligation to keep a relationship between the babies and her.  So, I did what I knew to do.  I held tight to my baby and I walked away.  I told the woman that any and all questions needed to be directed to a case worker and that I could not answer questions about the case.  It shook me up though and as I finally got away and sat down holding my baby, I felt the feelings of that all too familiar fight or flight response taking hold inside of me.  “We’ve got to get as far away from here as possible,” I told the other foster mother with me.  So, we did!  We were done with what we needed to do and fortunately there was a back exit that we were ushered to, so that we could leave and find our car.  We strapped the babies into their carseats and we got out of there.

So, now that this particular fear has been realized, I no longer fear a meeting like this anymore.  Do I ever want to see this woman again?  Nope!  Will Baby Girl and I have to?  Probably so, but next time I will do exactly what I did today.  I know my place.  My job is to protect Baby Girl and to love, care for, and nurture her while she is in my care.  This sometimes includes protecting her from people related to her.  Sometimes foster care takes you to places you would never go and sometimes it means dealing with people you’d hope to never have to deal with, but its all worth it!  Because, if I had to feel uncomfortable and a little upset today, so that Baby Girl didn’t have to, so be it!

Advertisements

A visit this week

We have a visit with our foster children’s social worker this week. She’ll come to the house. I’ll give her any paperwork from doctor’s appointments or therapy appointments that we’ve had in the last month. I’ll tell her what the babies have been up to and what “new” things they can do since her last visit a month ago. She’ll watch the babies play and they will entertain and “show off” a bit. She’ll write it all down in her notebook. And then, I’ll sit quietly and wait. I’ll wait for whatever “news” she has for us. It’s how we find out if our lives will change soon or keep on the same path until next month. So, I look forward to these visits. It’s one of the best ways to find out what’s going on in our children’s case. It’s a great way for the social worker to see how well the babies are doing and it’s a great way for me to get information to prepare for the future.

Mondays

Mondays are our busy days. After school we have ballet lessons, tap dance lessons, soccer practice, and homework for the three big kids. When we are done with a Monday, I always feel like we have conquered the impossible! Five kids, one mama, driving all over town, and still managing to feed everyone and get everyone to bed at a decent hour. Monday, I am so glad that you are over!

Family pictures

I’m taking the kids (ALL of them) to get professional photos taken today. Many foster parents don’t do this and even the photographer (who knows our situation) asked me, “So, are all five of the kids going to be in the picture?” “Yes, ALL of them,” I replied via text message. This is a family photo and they are ALL part of this family! I know what people are thinking. In ten years with that framed photo up on the wall, it might be hard if that image is only a distant memory. If Little Man and Baby Girl do eventually end up leaving and living with one of their biological relatives, that picture might bring up memories every single time that I look at it. It might be a symbol of the family that we once had and loved and wanted for forever. But, ya know what? I want to remember this moment. I want to remember what our family looks like right now, today! Because, no matter what happens, THIS is the family I want to remember. This is the family that brings me such joy! This, right now, in this moment, is our family!

She’s pregnant again.

I got a call from our children’s social worker today. Their biological mother is pregnant again. She saw her children one time in the year 2014, yet now with this new pregnancy and with this new man she feels “ready” to have her children back.

With each and every new development in this case my heart just breaks a little bit more.

We got approval for our June vacation!

We’re planning a beautiful, private beach, 3 pool resort type of vacation for when my soldier returns from deployment. Having foster children means that we can’t just leave the state whenever we like no matter if the next state over is only an hour away. We have to get permission first. So, when I found the PERFECT resort for our family, that had everything we were looking for in a vacation spot AND they had a unit available during the month after my soldier gets back, I was so excited! But, I needed to get permission first because the resort is a state away.

Well, today I got the email I was waiting for! We have permission to take our ENTIRE family on a vacation of a lifetime! I am so happy! I really want/need this vacation after this deployment, but I was NOT willing to go without our babies! So, the supportive email today from DHR, stating that our family has permission to take our babies across state lines was an answer to my prayers!!!

It wasn’t me this time.

I had to run into the store real quick this afternoon to grab a few essentials. I had paid a babysitter for two hours and the time wasn’t up yet, so I thought it was the perfect time to run the errand. Shopping with Little Man is very difficult. If you haven’t read past posts, I’ll catch you up. In the last 14 months at the grocery store Little Man has…
-Thrown cranberry juice from the shopping cart (which exploded and went EVERYWHERE!)
-Hit a fellow shopper in the face.
-Pulled things off of the shelves.
-Thrown canned food at people.
-Screamed and screamed throughout the store.
-Bitten me.
-Hit and Kicked me.
-Opened grocery items and spilled them on the floor.
Reached out and pulled a stranger’s hair.

And the list goes on, but you get the idea. I have learned to plan ahead, make lists, and to take every opportunity to do my shopping while Little Man is home playing with a babysitter or at school. We have a four day weekend this week, so this was my last chance.

I walked into the store and immediately heard a familiar sound. It was a screaming, yelling, wailing toddler. I grabbed my basket and headed to get my first item on the list. As I filled the basket, the sounds grew louder and louder until in frozen foods, I saw them. Mother and child. Mom looked exhausted. She had an expression on her face that showed she knew people were looking. She had her arms around her daughter, trying to console her to get the screaming to stop. It wasn’t working. I felt an immediate connection to this mother. She was just trying to grab stuff for dinner. She wasn’t trying to ruin everyone’s day. She was a mother of a toddler, very similar to mine. A child who is dis-regulated and cannot “just stop” or “calm down.” Maybe her mama gave her the wrong color sippy cup or maybe her pants felt weird or maybe the store smelled funny! Whatever it was, this child was not happy and there was nothing that mama could do about it. So, as I walked briskly by her I made eye contact and smiled. Not a pity smile, but a real smile. One that said, “I understand, I’ve been there. You may not feel like it, but you’re doing a great job!”

What are you going to do with him?

Little Man has tantrums, outbursts, and meltdowns. Whatever you call them, they are unpleasant. The people around us don’t always know what to do, let alone what to think when he starts down that path. If we’re in public, we try to leave fairly quickly. If we’re at home he goes in time-out or time-in depending on how bad it gets. When he is being watched by someone other than a family member we just pray it doesn’t happen and if it does we come back quickly to take care of our little guy and relieve the caregiver who simply can’t or doesn’t want to handle it. There are a few people who, I feel really really try and who really really love our little guy. Then, there are those who look at me with huge sorrowful eyes as I am taking my Little Man home and say in an exasperated tone, “what are you going to do with him?” Today, I responded, “I’m going to hug him, and kiss him, and put him to bed.” What else could I say? I didn’t have time to explain that we are in therapy and that I too desperately want to know what to do! I didn’t have time to say how scared I am that he will never get over these types of outbursts. I don’t want to even think about the very real and soon approaching possibility that he will have to handle being ripped away from me after I’ve been the only mommy he has known for the last 14 months. Any biological family member who “could possibly” raise him has poverty, drug history, mental illness, troubles with the law and/or bad life choices to overcome in addition to then adding a very traumatized toddler to the mix. Will they or can they handle him? Will they be patient and kind? Will they spend hours holding and cuddling him after a meltdown? Will they tuck him in “just right,” so that he feels safe and comfortable enough to sleep at night? All of these things, we do as a family each and every day for our Little Man. It is a kind of a “dance” that we do to keep him happy and calm. Oh, how heavy my heart was tonight with all of this on my mind. I have been reading and searching the scriptures about prayer and worry this week and here is what I’ve found.

Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

So, I found my encouragement for today! I will lean on HIM, my holy savior and trust HIM to make the right path for me AND for my Little Man.

My interview with Oldest Boy

When we first told people that we were going to become a foster family for children entering foster care the response was mostly positive.  A few people; however, did voice their concerns.  Most of the concerns were in regards to our biological children.  Friends and family members would say things like, “What about your children, aren’t you worried about how this will affect them?” “What if the foster child hurts one of them?” “What if your kids get too attached and it breaks their heart when the foster child has to go back to their family?”  The other thing that was stated a lot was this, “Well, you better always remember to put your kids first… don’t get so wrapped up in your foster kids that you forget who is important.”  This was one comment that I just didn’t care to hear.  I was pretty frustrated when people would suggest that “our” kids were more important than the “foster” kids.  We weren’t going into this foster care thing to be glorified babysitters.  We didn’t care to have two groups of children, one special and set apart and one not.  That was just NOT how we were going to do this thing.  We were going to be a family… all of us!  We prepared our children for nearly a year before we became foster parents.  We made the decision as a family.  They were involved in every aspect of the decision and planning.  They were interviewed by THREE social workers and asked their opinions and ideas about our family becoming a foster family.  This was a decision that we did not take lightly nor did our kids go into it with “rose colored glasses.”  They knew the truth about what could happen.  They knew they could get bit, spit on, hit, kicked, or yelled at by our foster children.  They knew their toys could get ruined, their bedrooms turned upside down, and that mommy and daddy might sometimes need to tend to the foster child before being able to help them with something.

The funny thing is, that since Little Man and Baby Girl have entered our home and in turn entered our family not one person has said those concerns they had in the beginning to us.  No longer do people question if we are taking good enough care of our biological children or if we are “putting them first.”  No longer do friends or family worry about how this whole foster care thing could negatively effect our family.  I guess there is just something to seeing our PRECIOUS Little Man and Baby Girl each and every day interacting with their three older siblings that melts a person’s heart and just pretty much erases all of those fears.

I often check in with my oldest three and ask them how they are doing.  I want to make sure that we are all still on the same page.  I want to see how they are handling the responsibility of being older siblings to our two babies.  I thought it would be fun for others to get to hear what my oldest boy thinks about being a foster brother.

My interview with Oldest Boy- 10 years old

Me-  “What is your favorite thing about being a foster brother?”

Oldest Boy-  “I like it because I can share my feelings a little bit more.  I get to play with someone who is like me… a boy.  I like to watch my little brother because he likes doing what I do and he likes playing with me.”

Me-  “What is your least favorite thing about being a foster brother?”

Oldest Boy-  “Him screaming and when we are telling him to do something and he doesn’t do it.”

Me-  “What would you tell other families who are thinking about becoming foster families?”

Oldest Boy-  “I would tell them, it is fun.  It helps you with patience.”

Me-  “Do you like sharing a room or would you rather have your own room?”

Oldest Boy-  “I would rather be together… to be with my brother.  I get to help him fall asleep and I get to do a lot of stuff with him.”

Me-  “What do you think is the hardest part about being a foster family?”

Oldest Boy-  “Sometimes you argue.”

Me-  “Are you happy that we became a foster family?”

Oldest Boy-  “YES!”

The boys playing computer games together, a favorite pastime for both!

The boys playing computer games together.  A favorite pastime for both!

Arrested again

Our children’s biological mother has been arrested again. This is the second time since the babies entered our care 14 months ago that she has been arrested. Last time she served 5 months in jail. I do not know if she will serve jail time for her most recent crime. I seriously continue to be shocked with each new development in our children’s case. If these two precious lives were legally mine, I would stop at NOTHING to get them back! It is all so sad to me. I know that I have not lived her life nor have I ever been in her shoes, but it is still just so hard for me to understand. It is just sad.