I loved him. He was my Sad Eyes. I got him all ready for school. I packed his little lunch. I hadn’t seen the “rages” or “outbursts” yet that were written about in his already very long case file. This precious little boy had only been in foster care for one month, yet after coming to us I learned he had already been placed in two different foster homes and a residential treatment facility for a short psychiatric stay. All of this at six years old. He was my Sad Eyes. I dressed him up, I took his picture with a little sign that said, “First Day of School.” He just needs a mommy, I told my mother-in-law, that is all he needs, a mommy who loves him. I walked him to his new class, I kissed his forehead goodbye. I left the building feeling really good about Sad Eyes’ first day. His teacher had been especially picked out for just him. She was a soft spoken, kind teacher with a huge heart and lots of love to give. We were set up for success, I felt. I did not receive a call from the school that first day, but when I came back to pick my kindergartener up, I knew something had gone terribly wrong. The school counselor approached my vehicle with a very worried expression on her face. The words, “it took four adults to control him,” and “I am scared for you and your family,” were used. My heart sank. “He has never been aggressive towards my children or myself,” I told her. Would they let him come back, I asked. She said that they would, but we would all have to stay in good communication with each other to make sure the situation was handled to the best of everyone’s ability. Then, the rages started at home. Uncontrollable, violent, physical rages. Screaming and yelling rages. All that it took was the words, “no,” or “not right now,” and Sad Eyes would fly into a rage. Tuesday night was the worst rage at home. I video taped what I could for the social worker to see. She already knew, she had experienced them herself, but she wanted evidence to show the counselor, so maybe she could get him the help that he needs. Wednesday morning we talked and she said she was afraid Sad Eyes couldn’t be around others right now, but that the best children’s therapeutic home was full and that the waiting list could take months. Could I hold on until then, she wondered. Of course I could, I told her. I am no quitter. I was sure we could handle this, it would just be hard. Hard to watch a child in such torture. A child who is so obviously hurting and he knows no way to express it and can’t keep his body in control. Then, Wednesday night happened and it was the worst night of my life. I can’t imagine a more terrifying scene. Well, I guess I can, but I don’t want to. To make a very very long story short, Sad Eyes wanted to go to the playground and once he saw one he bolted. It didn’t matter that there was a busy road in between us and the playground, he was going. I dropped everything and ran to catch him, yelling for him to stop! I could see the cars coming! As his little feet reached the edge of the pavement, I caught hold of his shirt and threw my arms around him. “Oh my goodness, Sad Eyes! Look! Cars! Big cars! You could have gotten hit! You can’t run away from me!” He didn’t hear me, he fell into a pit of emotion and didn’t come back up for air for a good hour and a half. I feel like I now know what a wrestler must feel like after a match. I had to use my entire body to keep this angry little boy from running back into that street. No matter how many times I tried to talk to him or tell him that we’d get to go he didn’t hear me. His rage went on and on. People stopped their cars to help me as they saw a 5’2″ woman holding a screaming, kicking, hitting, raging six year old. He was somewhere else, his body was in fight mode. No words were heard, nothing I said or did made it any better. When I let go, he would try to run. When I looked into his eyes, I saw nothing, but rage. We finally were able to get Sad Eyes closer to my vehicle and I stood beside it as he held the door and kicked at us still screaming. My daughter had to call our social worker. Three of them came. Nobody knew how many it would take to get him into their car. Would the police have to be called, it was an option we all talked about. It was scary. I was bawling, my daughter was bawling. The people around me just stared in disbelief. It was like a scene out of a terribly scary movie and an hour and a half after it started it stopped. Like the switch that had been flipped to begin this, was then flipped off. Sad Eyes looked up at me, took my hand in his and said in his little lisp, “I sawee bout dat.” “What,” I asked in shock. “You know, bout wat I dun, I sawee bout dat,” he said.
I’m so scared to let him go. I’m trying to stay busy. We are sticking with our routine of school, church, and our planned weekly activities, but in the quiet moments I find my thoughts racing and thinking about ways to change this! The fact of the matter is; however, that I can do nothing to change this! I can only gracefully, lovingly, and steadily help my son of 16 months to feel secure and safe these next few days. I pray with him, play with him, let him eat his favorite foods. I think, “should I write down his schedule for them,” or “should I write down what he likes to eat and drink?” “What if they don’t have chocolate milk?” “What if they don’t read, pray, and then kiss him goodnight?” The fact of the matter is, they won’t do it like me. They will do it very differently! All I can do is pray! That is it! Wow! What a humbling situation to be put into. I am literally in a situation where I cannot DO anything! I have to completely and fully rely on God in this! What a blessing that I have the hope of Jesus and the hope that one day Little Man will come to know HIM and then in heaven, I will get to see him again! I’m so worn out with worry tonight! I’m tired and exhausted. I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus and yet, I feel like I could keep going forever if there was just a chance I could change this. But, I can’t, so I will read my son his story tonight and tuck him into bed. I will pray our special prayer and I will tell him how much he is loved. Then, I will go to bed and hopefully get enough rest to face tomorrow!
I want to memorize the way he sounds, the cute little giggle that only he does.
I want to memorize the way he smells, a perfect mixture of coconut oil and baby lotion.
I want to memorize his crazy laugh and the way that he squeals, “Mommeeee!”
I want to always remember the way that he asks for one more kiss at nighttime and says, “stay a me!”
I want to never forget my son of my heart, the one I held in my arms for the last 16 months.
I never want to forget!
I am so numb. He is leaving. The little boy who came barreling into my life 16 months ago will be gone in less than two weeks. Our caseworker cried when she told me today. She cried when she left our house as well. I just stood there numb. It feels so final even though a court hearing will still take place. But, judges usually go with DHR’s recommendations and that is what they will recommend. Little Man will go to live with someone he has seen a total of 5 times in 16 months. It seems so weird.
I have been praying over Little Man every night for quite a while now. I pray for peace and protection for him for his whole life. In the next two weeks I will pray even harder! I know that my God loves Little Man more than I ever could! I will miss him though! He is my son! I have raised him. I have kissed every boo boo, read every book, pushed him on every swing, bought all of his clothes, tied his shoes, washed his hands, and changed his diapers. I will miss him!
Why in the world do social workers text me on a Friday afternoon, right as I am picking my children up from school to say they “need” to visit with me Monday morning? With Little Man’s future hanging in the balance, this statement causes me a lot of stress! Way to ruin the weekend!!!
But, I will NOT let this ruin our weekend this time! It has happened too many times before! I will NOT let it happen this time! I immediately called a friend asking if her son could come spend the night with Oldest Boy tonight. Oldest Girl is out of town for soccer. All of the kids need a distraction and who am I kidding, I do too! So, here’s to the weekend filled with pizza deliveries, video games, late night movies and jumping on the trampoline!
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!
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!
My love for our foster babies only grows as time moves on. I love them a little bit more every single day. It is exactly the same with my biological children. I see them do something new. I watch them interact with each other. I get handed a piece of paper with beautiful artwork and “I love you Mom,” written on the bottom. My heart swells with joy and I’m so very happy! The only difference with my foster babies is this tiny sliver (who am I kidding, it’s a log) of fear that I have in my heart after the precious moments.
I’ve been dealing with the fear pretty well lately. Not in the healthiest way, maybe, but I’ve been dealing with it just the same. I simply do not spend time thinking about what “could” happen. I’ve been told so many times that “my” babies are leaving and they never do. They are here with me today and that is where they are staying for the foreseeable future. So, tonight as I hold my sleeping Baby Girl as she falls asleep, I don’t let the fear creep in, I just enjoy the moment and let myself feel the happiness and the joy!
Little Man has pretty severe anxiety. Most of this anxiety involves he and I being separated for any length of time. Whether it be staying home with a babysitter or staying in the nursery at church, we usually go through some kind of anxiety induced meltdown. I do a lot to try and help Little Man through this and I hear myself saying a lot of the following phrases.
“I’m coming back.”
“I will always be back.”
“I love you… You will see me in a little while!”
“Night, night. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“You are safe.”
“Just breath, it’s going to be okay.”
I say all of these things because I mean them. I would never ever in a million zillion years leave him and never come back. I wouldn’t! Only thing is one day they might make me a liar. One day I might not be able to say, “see you in the morning,” or “we are going home.” Someday, I might be forced to say, “goodbye.”
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.