No digital device for a while

Okay, so yea, I can’t exactly give up my cell phone right now.  I’m a military wife, with a husband serving overseas, I am NOT going to miss his calls.  But, I am going to give up the IPAD and any non-essential digital device applications for the rest of this month.  I had the idea when I realized that when I am stressed, worried, or panicked even (I’m a foster mom, this happens daily) I reach for the device.  I post on Facebook asking for prayer before I even pray for the situation myself.  Something is really very wrong with that!  I’m not doing it anymore!  I KNOW that our situation with our foster babies needs prayer!  I KNOW that the ONLY answer to my worry and frustration with their case is to bring it to God and to lay it at the feet of Jesus.

So, instead of posting, texting or messaging for the rest of this month, I’m going “old fashioned” and journalling my “conversations with God.”  I’m going to keep track of my thoughts and prayers and give them to Jesus.  I’m going to create a notebook where I can keep track of my prayers and witness the answers that God gives me.  Even if those answers are not the ones I’m expecting or anticipating, I want to keep track of them.

I want an amazing testimony when this is all said and done and I can’t have that if I don’t MOVE MY BEHIND over and give God room to work!  I absolutely HAVE TO LET GO.  So, here it goes!  I’m gonna try!  Wish me luck!

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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!

Tomorrow is the visit.

I’ve had it written on the calendar for weeks, the time is written in red.  We will not be late.  We will be dressed and ready to go well before the clock says the time.  I’ve had his outfit picked out for days.  He will be dressed in his cutest clothes.  I had his hair cut this week.  It has grown out for a few days, so it looks just perfect!  Tonight I gave him a bath, we moisturized his skin and now he smells squeaky clean!  I’ve cut his nails and cleaned his ears.  Tomorrow morning we’ll brush his teeth right before we leave the house.

Tomorrow is the visit.

Every single time that we have an upcoming visit I stress.  What will happen?  How will Little Man respond?  Will it be good for him or hurt him?  Will he cling to me or run to them?  Will he recognize people he hasn’t seen in almost a year?  I think all of these thoughts.  Then comes the preparations.  The diaper bag is packed.  The snack bag goes too.  I make sure we have everything that Little Man could possibly want or need.  We drive the two hours to the DHR building and we sit and wait.  Tomorrow will be the same.

Tomorrow is the visit.

I want to make a good impression.  I want them to see how much I care.  I want to be there for Little Man.  I want to be his rock when he needs me!  I want to be strong, but I feel so weak.  It is stressful and I feel anxious.  I must lean into the Lord.  I must trust that the Lord of heaven and earth has got this!  He knows what Little Man needs.  He knows what I need.  He will be my rock, so that I can be that for Little Man.

Tomorrow is the visit.

They didn’t show…

Today… this morning… it was the moment that I had been dreading.  Eleven and a half months have gone by since we became foster parents to Little Man and Baby Girl and all of that time, I felt had been leading up to this very moment.  The permanency hearing for our precious foster babies.

I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:00 a.m. the night before and then awoke back up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning before my alarm even went off.  I got on my knees, my face to the floor of my bedroom and I began to pray.  Every fear that I had inside of me, I cried out to The Lord.  I begged for His mercy and His grace and His peace that passes all understanding.  I drank my coffee, woke the babies and dressed them.  We drove the 2 hours to the courthouse.  A fellow foster mom sat with the babies as I sat alone with our social worker in a courtroom that was empty for 30 agonizing minutes.  Court was supposed to start, but it didn’t and all I could hear were lawyers talking loudly in the hallway.  Every few moments, I would ask our social worker, “Where is the judge?” or “What time is it?”  I was restless and nervous, “let’s get this over with,” I thought.

After what seemed like forever, a uniformed officer entered the courtroom announcing the judges presence.  He walked into the courtroom in his long black robe followed by four lawyers and the supervisor of DHR and that is when I realized it… they didn’t show.  The biological family was not here.  Not one family member from our precious foster babies’ birth family was present.  This was the permanency hearing to decide the future of their lives and not one family member was present.  Not one of them showed up.  The judge asked, “are the parents here today?” and I wanted to stand, I wanted to say, “I am here!  Me… I am here!”  But, I sat tight and didn’t say a word.  Even though these babies are my world.  Even though they are as important to me as my three biological children at home, I didn’t say a word.  My social worker had warned me not to speak unless spoken to.  I sat still and calm and prayed, “Jesus, be with me, be in this room.”

At the end of the hearing it was decided that our precious ones would return home with me today.  They would stay with our family.  We get to keep them!  Maybe not forever, but at least for now and my heart was filled with JOY!  There was joy and there was sadness.  My thoughts went to the biological family.  What is going on in their lives that they couldn’t be here today?  They were given plenty of notice, their lawyers were present, but where were they?  Why didn’t they come?  I may never know.  They did not show.

I’m selfish…

I’m pretty much freaking out about Friday. The permanency hearing to decide the future of our foster babies will start at 9 a.m. that morning and I am seriously not sure at this point if I will make it until then! I am so stressed and worried!

I want the best for these babies! I want them to grow up in a safe, stable, and loving home. I want them to always have enough food, enough hugs, and enough support to do anything they want to in life! I want them to go after their dreams! Will Little Man like football or soccer or maybe science? Will Baby Girl be a ballerina or a gymnast or maybe prefer the rougher sports? Will they grow to know The Lord Jesus as their personal savior? These are all things I think about.

Then I start thinking about myself and what I want for me. I realize, I am selfish. I want to see them grow up! I want to cheer from the stands while they compete or perform. I want to be in their lives and get to know who they grow up to be. I am selfish. I am scared of losing them. I am scared of never seeing them again. I am scared of the pain that I may have to endure.

I’m selfish…

Lawyers…

Joshua 1

I received a text message from a good friend (who is also a foster mama) today warning me to “be ready for the lawyers to try and trick me with nasty questions at the permanency hearing this Friday.”  This is not the first time that I’ve been warned about this possibility.  You see, the same lawyers that represent abused and neglected children in one case turn around and represent the abusers and neglecters in the next case.  They, in essence know how to play both sides.  This scares the poop out of me!  (Pardon my language, but it DOES!)

I have been around since day number one when our foster children came into the state’s care.  I have been the one caring for, losing sleep over, tending to the every need of these precious children who legally belong to someone else.  I literally have NO RIGHTS when it comes to these little ones and protecting their future.  Nobody cares what I think.  Nobody wants to know my opinion, but the lawyers would just love to get me to say something degrading or unsupportive of the birth family in this case.  They would love to try and show that our family has not supported reunification or that we have in some way hindered it.  This makes me so MAD!  I cannot wait to get asked these questions.  I cannot wait to be able to say without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that our family has bent over backwards trying to help this family!  I cannot wait to tell them how many HOURS upon HOURS I have sat with Little Man on my lap waiting for a family member to call him.  I cannot wait to tell them about the picture books I’ve made, the photos I’ve framed, the artwork I’ve saved to give to birth family members.  I cannot wait to tell them about spending time talking with family members and encouraging them to do what the social workers are asking them to do.  I cannot wait.

But, yes I am still scared.  I have never been to court before.  I want to be strong.  I want to do the right thing.  I want a positive future for these babies.  I want the best for them!  My whole world has been wrapped up in their little lives for 11 1/2 months!  They mean the world to me!  Of course, I am afraid!

Then, today in my Facebook feed, I saw this Bible verse and it reminded me of who is going with me to court this Friday.  It reminded me that I do not have to be afraid!  I have the Lord of heaven and earth with me wherever I go and surely He will go before the babies and I and prepare a way for them to have a bright and loving future.

“Be strong and courageous.  Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Being so far away!

Being so far away… it’s hard. My soldier is really struggling being thousands of miles away while I am getting ready to take “our babies” to court next week for the permanency hearing.

He can’t be here to hold them and rock them to sleep this last week before (possibly) all of our lives change. He has been there for everything this past year, just like me. He has changed the diapers, fed the bottles, cuddled the crying toddler after a fall, all of it! He is the most amazing dad! And, now he has to sit over there in a foreign country, away from all of us as I deal with getting things in order and take them to court alone. The call logs, the medical forms, the notes that I’ve taken, every “i” must be dotted, every “t” must be crossed. We must show that over the course of this past year that every available opportunity has been given to this other family… this first family. Every time they called, every chance they had for a visit, it all was documented.

Do I wish my soldier was here with me right now? That is an understatement! In one week, I will sit in a courtroom and the future of “our babies” will be decided by a judge. There are many possible outcomes. None of these outcomes will make everyone happy. My highest hope and my constant prayer is that God will provide us a just and caring judge, one that observes the law, but who still has a side of warmth and compassion. A judge with wisdom like King Solomon.

And, my other prayer is that God will grant me the grace and peace that I need to accept what He has for “our” babies whether I understand it or not.

In ten short days…

In ten short days, I will drive them to court.

In ten short days, we will have an answer of some sort.

In ten short days, I will have no say.

In ten short days, I may have to give them away.

In ten short days, my days with them may be numbered.

In ten short days, all of the options will be covered.

In ten short days, my heart may break.

In ten short days, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to take.

In ten short days, I will be brave for them.

In ten short days, it will happen then.

In ten short days, a decision will be made.

In ten short days, the future for these babies will be be decided.

In ten short days, a courtroom possibly divided.

If only, if only we could all do what is best for them.

Jesus Christ, I pray to you right now for peace for all… Amen!

Four Days

Four Days…

That’s about how long I can go without talking to my soldier and still feel nice… after that all bets are off.

I feel antsy.  I feel stressed.  I feel mad.  I feel drained.  I feel sad.  I need him!

I look around and see other couples.  They don’t hold hands.  The husband doesn’t have his arm around his wife.  The wife has a sour look on her face and I just want to scream!  “Don’t you know how lucky you are?”  “Don’t you realize how special it is that you have the love of your life sitting right next to you?”  “Don’t take that for granted!”

He will call when he can.  He always does… every chance that he gets.  And, when he does, I will feel nice again.

Trying to make sense of it all

It’s complicated.  Foster care is just that… complicated.  There are so many people involved and so many ideas from those people as to what should happen.  Then, caught in the middle are these precious children.  Children, who have no voice in what happens to them because they are too young and in the case of our babies, can hardly even speak.  So, “the state” makes the decisions for them.  Then, there are laws… laws that were written to protect these little ones, but often times these same laws do a lot more to protect the adults in these cases rather than the children.

Then, there are the foster parents.  We are the ones in the trenches.  We are the ones who open our homes and our hearts and welcome these precious little ones into our lives.  The night that DHR dropped our babies off at our house, I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t worry about the future, I just held them.  I loved them.  I comforted them and fed them.  It was not until several months in that I started asking questions.  What is going to happen with these two?  What is going on?  Who is going to raise them?  Are they worthy of raising such precious ones?  Do they have what it takes to chase after a one and two year old?  Are they healthy?  Do they have a house that is safe?  Do they want them?  Unfortunately, most of my questions went unanswered.  Months passed and I asked more questions.  What is going on?  When do we go to court again?  What is the plan?  Even fewer answers.

So, here we are at 10 months and 4 days with “our” babies.  We know that we will have them until November.  That is when the “permanency hearing” will take place.  That is when the babies will have been in care for the last 12 months, one year of their lives.  So much has changed.  They are walking, talking, eating different foods.  Little Man goes to preschool.  Baby Girl went from crawling and sitting to running, climbing, and playing independently.  They are completely bonded to our family and yet at any moment can be ripped away from everything that they know and put into a brand new situation.  It just doesn’t seem fair.

So, I sit and I worry and I wonder what I can do and the answer is NOTHING.  I can DO NOTHING.  I cannot do any more than I already am.  I love them, I watch over them, I feed them, and take them to the doctor when they are sick.  I change diapers, wipe noses, and clean up spills.  And, I pray!  I pray to the God who loves these little ones more than I ever could.  He created them and has a plan for their lives.  He has plans to give them a hope and a future.  It says so right in his Word!  I will rely on His promises.  I will trust in His sovereign plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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