The answer is, “no.”

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We heard back about the boys today.  After trying to get ahold of social workers by myself, I asked our social worker from our agency to help us find out more about The Boys.  We wanted to know if we might be a good match to be their family.  As it turns out, the boys have an approved family pursuing them already.  This is a PRAISE!  I am so incredibly happy for them.  So incredibly happy.  Only thing is, my heart hurts a bit too.  I had this sinking feeling when our social worker told me that, “if you were praying for the boys to have an excellent, happy, and loving family, then your prayers were answered.  If you were praying that it would be your family, then I am very sorry.”

So, I will let go of all of those thoughts that I’ve had during the last two weeks.  Thoughts of what our first vacation would be like with The Boys.  Thoughts of shopping for a first car with Teenager.  Thoughts of redecorating a bedroom for Only Boy and Brother.  And, then there is the whole fact that I have to share this news with my kiddos after school today.  I am dreading that.  The tough thing about foster care and adoption is that we HAVE to involve our children.  We have to ask them their opinions on things that will affect the rest of their lives.  We have to ask, “Would you be willing to bring two more kids into this family?  They might come with some baggage, bumps and bruises.”  We have to involve them, but then when they say, “Yes!  We want to do that,” and we look into it, well its just hard when the answer is, “no.”

So, there’s the story of The Boys.  Its over.  I pray we get to see them again someday!  I pray we’ll run into them with their new family!  That would be so awesome!

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Our second visit with the boys (Part Two)

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After dinner it was playtime!  I set up a “bead station” in the dining room where the girls and some of the boys made bead bracelets and necklaces.  Most of the boys; however, chose video games and nerf guns for their entertainment.  Teenager sat and talked with the house father as he is much older than all of the kids at the Children’s Home.  I enjoyed watching the interactions between all of the children.  Some good, some not so good, but all really great examples of how children from “hard places” deal with stress and fun during playtime.  Some children get very overstimulated quite easily.  Some get overly angry over very small things and still others pout.  I was really happy when I saw Brother react very similar to how my son reacts to playtime stresses or disagreements.  He simply would walk away and do a new activity with a different child.  I saw no aggression and no pouting.  He loved to call me over to “watch this!”  It was fun to be the person he wanted around and it was also very encouraging to see how he enjoyed being around us and got along with each member of our family.  He loved Baby Girl and followed her around trying to make her laugh for much of the night.  We ate our ice-cream sundaes all together, piling on way too many marshmallows and much too much whipped cream!  It was fun!  Only Boy and Brother wrestled in the grass after a quick thunderstorm passed and allowed us to go outside.  Brother pushed Baby Girl on the swings, rode his bike, threw the football with me and Only Boy, and at one point said to me, “Hold on, she looks lonely over there, I’m going to go play with her for a little bit.”  He was referring to my Middle Girl who was riding a bike and enjoying trying it out alone on the basketball court.  It was so sweet though!  He just saw that she was alone and was in tune enough to know that someone who is alone might also be lonely, so he took it upon himself to go over and spend time with her.  I was impressed!  Teenager played some practical jokes and pranks and at one time had me convinced that I had left my windows in my truck down during the storm and that my vehicle was filled with water.  He totally had me going for a second and then he broke a smile and yelled, “Gotcha!”  It was really funny!  His sense of humor really shined through and I could tell he likes to play tricks and have fun!  At 8:00 p.m. the fun had to end though.  The house parents announced it was time to go inside and get ready for bed.  I quickly gathered my kiddos and started towards the front of the house.  Brother followed me and said, “Do you have to go?”  I said, “Yes, but we’ll come back soon, okay?”  He said, “I don’t want you to leave, can I go home with you?”  I hugged him, “Wouldn’t that be fun,” I said, “but, no not this time.  We’ll see you again really soon.”  All the kiddos walked us outside to our truck, but Teenager and Brother were the only ones who stayed at our vehicle as I loaded it up.  Teenager put Baby Girl into her carseat and buckled her up.  She usually totally fights getting into her carseat and won’t let anyone buckle her!  She almost always screams, “I do it!  I do it!”  But, this time she didn’t resist and let him strap her in.  I was amazed.  Then, the hugs.  Teenager came to me and gave me a hug saying, “see ya later,” and Brother had to hug every single member of our family at least twice.  We all waved and said, “goodbye, see ya later,” as we drove away.  My heart was full.  We had the best time!

The day we met these boys, only a week earlier there had been a connection.  Every single family member felt it.  We all did.  Every single family member has been on board since the moment we met these boys to at least find out a little more.  We know they are children without parents.  We know they are in the system and that is NOT where children belong.  We know God has called our family to foster care and adoption.  We know it.  We know it like I know that the grass is green and the sky is blue.  It is just one of the many reasons that God created me.  He created me to be a mom.  He created me to mother.  He created me to care for those that someone else couldn’t.  He created me to love unconditionally regardless of where someone comes from.  He gave me a purpose and a mission and a family that feels the same way.  Wow, this life is amazing!  God is good!  I am happy!  We are blessed!  Let’s see where next week takes this.  We have a lot of praying to do, phone calls to make, and things to talk about.

Our second visit with the boys (Part One)

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We headed over to the Children’s Home right after school yesterday.  I bought 5 awesomely good pizzas, brought all the fixings for ice-cream sundaes, and we brought video games and beading kits to make necklaces or bracelets with the kiddos.  We arrived at the house around 5:20 p.m., by the time I had collected the kids from school, drove to get the pizzas, and found my way back to the home which is about a 30 minute drive from our house.  The kids and I prayed several times as we drove the 30 minutes to the Children’s Home.  We prayed that God would let us minister and love on each and every child there and that we would especially get to spend some quality time with The Boys.  I think I’m going to have to give each of them a “blog name” now.  We’ll call the oldest of the two, “Teenager” and we’ll call the younger of the two, “Brother.”

I didn’t know what to expect on this visit.  We had such an amazing time the first time, so I was nervous about trip two.  Why was I nervous?  We were just going to hang out and spend some time with some new friends.  But, I was nervous.  As we pulled into the drive-way of the Children’s Home I saw them.  They were standing on the front porch.  Teenager waved at us and Brother came running toward the truck.  I parked, we got out and Brother ran right to Only Boy and wrapped his arms around his chest yelling, “I missed you Buddy!”  I almost burst into tears right there.  The connection we felt was real.  The boys picked up right where they left off, goofing around and being silly.  (Now, I know some of you reading this are VERY educated in adoption and foster care and of course because of that know a lot about “RAD” Reactive Attachment Disorder.  I am aware that children from hard places, often will make connections with just about anybody.  I have read A LOT about RAD and am not blind… I know the danger signs with RAD, but it still just warmed my heart to hear him say that because honestly, WE HAD MISSED HIM TOO).  Okay, so moving on… Teenager came up to the truck and asked, “Where’s the big guy?”  “He had to fly tonight,” I said.  “Oh, I thought he might fly his helicopter over here to eat with us,” he joked.  I smiled and I handed him the pizzas.  After all, I had brought them for him!  He was the reason that I got “delivery pizzas” instead of bringing the stuff to make homemade!  He smiled and said, “PIZZA!”  We all walked inside.  I brought flowers from my garden for the house mother to show our appreciation for them letting us come to visit again.  We were just so happy to be back.

The younger boys took to the game room and got out their games.  I started to set out the food.  I asked the house mother if we should start to eat and she said sure, that I could call all the kids into the dining room.  I went to get the boys and they were already sitting back in their “gaming chairs” playing a racing game on the XBOX.  I smiled and took a picture.  No matter the future, I just wanted to remember that moment.

We ate.  We played.  We talked.  We had a blast!

“When wuz you pregnant wit her?”

I’m a “pink” foster mama.  Baby Girl is our precious dark chocolate 2 year-old princess.  We have had her in our home since she was 6 months old and she hasn’t known anyone else, but us as “her family,” since that time.  We have encountered several people who have questions about the fact that we don’t “match” in color or who look at us with a questioning look when we’re out and about, but most of the time everyone just goes about their business and we go about our’s. When we go to the city park; however, we are kinda just asking for it.  The other night it was HOT!  So, I loaded the kids up in the truck and we visited the Splash Pad at our city’s park.  Tons of kiddos were running around jumping and splashing in the water that shoots from the ground!  Everyone was having a great time!

I see her out of the corner of my eye.  She is watching us.  She is taller than my youngest biological daughter, so I’m guessing she’s about 8 years old.  She makes a beeline for us.  She looks at me, looks at Baby Girl and blurts out, “When wuz you pregnant wit her?”  Okay, so I then realize she may be younger probably six, her height threw me off.  “I was never pregnant with her honey, she grew in another mama’s belly.”  The little girl looks at me like I’m crazy.  We keep playing and she goes up to Baby Girl to look at her more closely.  The little girl says to me, “I was standing over there thinking, when wuz you pregnant wit her?”  I smile.  This should be interesting.  “I wasn’t,” I say, “another mama carried her in her belly, but I’m the mama who takes care of her now.”  The girl looks at me again, she is NOT convinced this is “right.”  She runs up to my son who “matches” me.  “Is dat your sister,” she asks.  “Yep,” he says not missing a beat and running in the opposite direction.  I look around, I see who I think is her mama and she is laughing.  She is totally happy to let me handle this.  I smile and laugh to myself.  This precocious little girl just can’t figure this out and I really don’t know how much I’m wanting to or willing to share.  Then, the little girl spots my middle daughter who also “matches” me.  She runs to her and says, “Is dat your sister?”  My middle girl says, “Yes, she’s my sister,” and runs up to Baby Girl, picks her up and runs to play.  The little girl takes one more look at me and shrugs her shoulders.  She’s satisfied.  Once she had the same story from all three of us, apparently that was enough for her.  She went off to play and didn’t give us another look.

These things are going to happen.  We don’t “match.”  We look different, but I guarantee you that if that little girl had asked Baby Girl, “Where is your mama,” she would have run straight to me.  And, to me that is what counts.

It was never meant to be empty.

Tonight, I washed the sheets on the bed that was never meant to be empty.  I washed them and remade the bed after Little Man left, but they’ve sat there unused for three months now and I felt it was time to wash them again.  Only Boy has stated that he NEVER wants that bed to be taken down, so although it would make his room much bigger and give him tons more room to play, it will stay.  It stays as a reminder of the precious little boy that changed my life.  It stays as a reminder to Only Boy that he DID have a brother and although he doesn’t live here anymore, that he always will.  It stays.  A few days after Little Man left I crawled up into that bed and smelled the pillow that he used that very last night in our home.  It hurt so bad!  I finally washed the sheets to keep myself from doing that again.  I didn’t want to feel that pain.  I don’t want to feel it now.  I want my family back.  I want the way it “was” to be the way it “is.”  I’m still hurting.

Two days ago I felt this sudden urge to get ready for a new foster placement.  Our home is still open for foster placements and our agency worker knows that we would really like another little boy to love.  I sent messages to both of our past workers reminding them that we are open for placements and that we have room for a child in need of a safe place to stay for the summer.  Nothing.  I guess that is good.  It is ALWAYS good if there is no need.  I don’t want children to be in need of a safe place.  I want the place they were born into to be their safe place.  But, if… if it is not… I want to be that safe place.  Until then, the bed will stay empty, even though it was never meant to be.

We still miss him.

We’re coming up on three months since Little Man left.  It seems like a million years ago and yet also like just yesterday. We talk about him every day.  We pray for him every day.  Things remind us of him every day.  At Baby Girl’s second birthday party last week there was a huge balloon bouquet and I was handing children balloons as they left as part of their party favors.  Baby Girl looked up at me, pointed to a balloon and said, “Man’s boon mama, Man’s boon.”  She remembered him and using her cute little nickname for him was reminding me to save him a balloon.  My heart swelled up… I choked back some air, I pulled myself back together and looked around to see if anyone else had heard it too.  Knowing eyes and sweet smiles, friends looked at me and at each other and said, “How sweet,” and “How sad.”  Because its both… its so sweet and yet so sad.  Will she ever see her brother again?  Will he ever get to be part of our lives again?  Will we ever get to know that he is okay?  We all still miss him!

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!

We’re not easy to be friends with anymore.

So, my husband and I have come to the conclusion after being foster parents for over 13 months now, that we’re not easy to be friends with anymore.  We used to be!  We would invite friends over all of the time and we’d have lovely get togethers where the adults would hang out in one room and the kids would all play outside.  The two or three families would eat pizza, play board games, watch movies, and swim together.  We would hang out late into the night, well past our children’s bedtimes and when it was all said and done nobody really wanted to leave, but at about midnight they’d have to, so that they could all wake up the next morning and not be grouchy.  We’d walk our friends to their cars promising to do it all over again next weekend and we’d all be sad that it was over.

Um… that is a thing of the past!  It wasn’t on purpose.  We didn’t try to run our friends off.  It just sort of happened.  There are still two families that have stuck by us through our growing pains of becoming a family of seven.  They still come over.  We still play and swim and eat together, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is “easy” anymore.  There is usually yelling and some crying.  Kids accidentally get hurt.  Children are always throwing things and someone inevitable will get bit.  Yes, I said it… they will get bit.  It is horrible to admit, but we just aren’t that picture perfect family anymore.  We don’t party into the night because we have babies that have a strict schedule to keep unless we want all chaos to break loose for the next several days.  Nobody really stays much past 8 o’clock anymore.  Everyone starts to leave and as they do a part of me is sad.  We’ve lost something.  We’ve lost the ability to be “easy” friends.  We just aren’t.

Sometimes, I mope around about it for a while.  I complain that we don’t have any friends that like us anymore.  I feel sorry for myself for a little while and then I realize something.  I WOULD NOT CHANGE OUR “NEW NORMAL” FOR ANYTHING.  So what if we aren’t easy to be around anymore.  I don’t want to be easy!  I want to be us.  I want to be the family that we are now.  I don’t know how long it will last.  Little Man and Baby Girl’s cases are nowhere close to being over, so it could be a while or something could happen tomorrow to change everything.  All I know is that I love our new family.  We’re a little rough around the edges.  We are sometimes difficult to be around because of all the chaos, but we’re a family and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Back when I used to think I was a good mom…

Back when I used to think I was a good mom, I’d walk through the Walmart with my three children and every grocery item would stay in my cart. I’d smile at people as we passed in the isles and they remarked, “My, what well-behaved children you have there!”

Now, I run through the Walmart trying to get out of there as fast as possible, afraid I’m going to have to apologize to someone when Little Man throws canned goods at them or reaches out and pulls their arm! (Yes, this really happens!)

Back when I thought I was a good mom, I could get all of my children to bed by 8:00 p.m. and my husband and I could actually sit and watch a movie.

Now, I spend from 7:45 – 10:00 p.m. getting my children to stay in their rooms, stay in their beds, and to actually go to sleep! (10:00 p.m. is on a “good” night!)

Back when I thought I was a good mom, I said things like, “It’s okay, we all spill and make mistakes, no big deal,” and “No worries, mommy will get it, don’t cry.”

Now, I hear myself saying things like, “Are you serious… You spilled again,” and “Why in the world did you shove that in there, no I can’t get that out!”

So you see, life has changed since the arrival of Little Man and Baby Girl. For a long time I thought, “what the heck is
wrong with me? How can I be so bad at this? I’ve been raising 3 kids and have never ever felt this way!” I always felt like I was a pretty good mom! I knew what to do, I knew what to say, and I felt good about myself. But, maybe that was the problem! Maybe I needed a big ol’ slice of humble pie! Maybe my “well-behaved” little family needed some shaking up! Maybe we needed a few outbursts and a few embarrassing moments in public to bring us together. Maybe just maybe, we’re learning some pretty cool life lessons rights now. Lessons like, there is always tomorrow to try again and life is messy, but we’re a family and we’re in this together!

Changing of the guard

My second born has always had his older sister at school with him. When he was in the 1st grade, she was in the 4th. She would walk him to class everyday and check in on him whenever she walked by his classroom. He has always had her to rely on, that is until this year. This year big sister moves up to 7th grade and because of this change, she goes to a new school. My son has been worried all summer. He didn’t want to be the “big one.” He had come to rely on his sister always being there to tell him what to do. Even last night before bed he was still worried. His younger sister will be a 1st grader this year and that makes my son the oldest at school. Being the oldest at school, to him, came with a lot of responsibility and he just wasn’t sure he was ready for it.

I prayed with the “big kids” as I drove down the streets of our town on their way to school today. I prayed for peace and for safety and that they would truly enjoy their time in school this year. As we pulled up to the elementary school and my youngest two “big kids” got out, I saw something that made this mama’s heart proud. My son, my worrier, my one who wasn’t sure he was ready for this, reached down and grabbed his little sister’s hand. He walked along the sidewalk sort of pulling her along, knowing the way to go and what to do. He was ready, he just didn’t know it yet.

He’s ready to be the “big one” at school. He is the one his little sister will ask for help from; he is the one who will know what to do and he is ready for that job! I am so proud of my son!