I hate that dress!

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I’m throwing it out!  I HATE that dress!  It was something I bought right before court a year and a half ago.  I wore it the day I took my precious Little Man to be reunified with his birth family.  The family that had made absolutely NO effort to gain custody of him, but because “blood is best” as far as courts are concerned, he was gone.  My little boy!  My heart!  The one who clung to me and wouldn’t get out of my truck that morning.  My baby who called, “Mama, no go!  Mama, no go!”

Oh how I hate that dress!  I wore it that day.  The ugliest dress in my closet.  It has hung there for a year and a half just staring at me and making me sick.  I’ve kept it just in case these”feelings” went away and I could wear it again.  It cost money, was my rational.  It makes no sense to just throw it away.  I’m being silly.  The dress if fine, it is basically brand new.  I’m being wasteful.  BUT, TODAY I DON’T CARE!  I’m tossing it!  Not in the trash, but in the donation pile!  Someone else can wear that dress.  Someone who doesn’t know about the heartbreak.  Someone who doesn’t feel the pain.  Someone who doesn’t ache for the little boy who was mine.  Someone who didn’t see him in the distance getting into a stranger’s car at the courthouse with all of his earthly things, as I rode away.  Someone who didn’t sob and sob and sob as my friend drove me home.  Someone else can wear that dress.  I hate that dress!

 

 

Rage: Part 2

Sad Eyes needs a therapeutic environment.  It is not that he doesn’t also need a loving mommy, daddy, and family, but right now he just isn’t ready for that.  His downward spiral reached a point of him being a danger to himself and others.  His behavior was erratic.  He didn’t listen to warnings of danger.  It broke my heart.  But, I do believe and I do know that his social worker is going to do everything in her power to get Sad Eyes the best help that is out there and available to him.

The day after Sad Eyes left, T and I went on the hour drive to see Sad Eyes and his mom and granny.  We showed up at DHR and T recognized the van that he was used to being driven around in.  He asked if he’d be coming back with me after the visit and I assured him that yes, he was coming home with me after his family visit.  We entered DHR, Sad Eyes was sitting across the waiting room and jumped up as soon as he saw me.  He ran over and wrapped his arms around my waist, “I go home with you,” he said, not as a question, but as a statement.  My heart sank.  Sweet precious boy, I wish you could.  I wish you were ready for the love I want to give you.  I hugged him.  Then, we all walked into the back where we had a meeting to discuss the case with all of the members of the team.  The point of this whole thing is to get these boys back with their biological relatives, hopefully their mother.  So, we talked about what needed to be done while the boys played in a separate room at DHR.  It is then that I learned the sad truth.  Sad Eyes has been dealing with these “outbursts” and “rages” for years.  He has lived with his mother, his granny and several other of his biological family members, in two different foster homes and had a stay in a behavioral health facility, all before coming to our house.  No matter where he lives, he acts out in this way.  I am not the first person to see it.  I hope I’m one of the last, but we can’t be sure.  We all agreed that he needs help.  He needs therapy and a safe environment where he can be free to start his healing.  He has been through so much, way more than any little person should ever experience and he’s got to be able to let that out.  He needs a therapeutic environment, we all agreed.  So, we won’t see Sad Eyes for a while, but we plan on visiting him wherever he stays, so that T and he can stay connected.  I also plan to take T to see his other younger brother who is in a different foster home.  That foster mother and I have met and plan to keep the boys in contact while they are in foster care.  We don’t want them to lose that brotherly bond that they have.  So, lots of visits are in our future.

How long will T be with us?  I don’t know.  All I know is that T IS ready for a loving family.  He is ready for going to school every day, for having his meals made for him, for being taken to the doctor when he’s sick, for being read to at night, for having someone help him with his spelling words, and for love.  He’s ready.  So, as long as he’s with us that is what we’ll do.

Rage: Part 1

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.

His name is T.

T is seven.  T is precious and fun and funny!  T talks non-stop.  T is awesome.  Tonight he had us all busting up laughing with his knock-knock jokes.  He made them all up.  Okay, so when I say we were busting up laughing, it wasn’t necessarily because the jokes were that funny, but because he was.  His smile is huge with a mouth-full of rotten teeth and more dental problems than any other child I have ever met at his age.  It is sad.  But, his smile is still beautiful and his face lights up when he laughs.  He is the life of the party, but can also be shy.  He asks lots of questions and he tells stories.  We have had many a “learning experience” about his life prior to he and his brother coming to live with us.  He is very open and honest about what he has seen and heard.

I want the best for him.  I hope and pray he gets what he deserves in life.  He deserves a chance.  He deserves love.  He deserves hope.  He deserves better than he has gotten up until now.

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!

The Clothing Closet

We have a “Clothing Closet” at our church.  It is dedicated to providing clothing for children living in foster care.  It is a rather large room with floor to ceiling shelves with clothing racks in the middle.  Generous members of our church started the closet and built the shelves and donated the racks for organization.  I regularly go down to the room in our church and organize, pick up, and refold or hang items that have fallen from the racks.  Over the last two years since its beginning, I have noticed something that really bothers me.  I hate to be negative, but I just have to say this!  

IF YOU WOULDN’T PUT YOUR CHILD IN IT, THEN DON’T DONATE IT TO FOSTER CHILDREN!!!!!

Now, to be fair, I often find $100 jackets with the tags still attached or shoes that I would never buy myself because I can feed a family of 6 for a week with that money.  But, today when I went down there I found trash! Literally, clothing with blood and poop stains.  Dog hair, grass stains, rips, and missing pieces.  Do the people who donated these things not have trash pick up?  Do they actually believe that me, a foster mama, would even for one split second consider putting the precious child entrusted to my care in one of these outfits?  I took a trash bag and did what needs to be done with articles of clothing that look like this.  I threw them away!  Goodbye clothing with actual mold residue!  Goodbye pants with no button and ripped knees!  Goodbye, poop stained onesies!  Goodbye!

Because, what a child who is living in foster care deserves is the best!  They deserve our firsts, not our throw aways!  They deserve love and kindness, protection and fun!  They deserve more than what I saw in that room!  They deserve more!

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!

Today a family was born!

I could not hold them in, the tears just fell as I watched one of my best friends and her husband stand before the judge and 40 of their friends with their new daughters. They pledged to love their daughters and provide for them, in the judges words, “as if they were their natural parents.” The youngest, holding onto her mama and looking up every couple of seconds as if she couldn’t believe it herself. It was beautiful! At the end, the judge ended with, “it is finished!” Both girls started jumping up and down with excitement!

Eight months ago these two precious girls were orphans. They had no parents and they hadn’t had parents for years! They had been living in a very nice children’s home for the last four years. They were loved and well cared for by their “house parents,” but desperately wanted to be adopted. Their social worker told my friend that when large churches would come to visit and throw celebrations at the children’s home that the girls would ask strangers if they wanted to adopt them. I cannot even begin to tell you how HAPPY I am for this family!!! It was the most beautiful picture of God’s redemptive unconditional love taking place today!

Today, I witnessed a family being born!

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!

This little hand…

IMG_4499This little hand belongs to the most precious little girl in the entire world.  Well, at least we think so.  She is our Baby Girl.  She is smart and funny, too cute for her own good and very very sassy.  She stomps her feet and slams doors.  She eats anything you put on her tray.  She likes the color “yellow” and calls all of the colors by that name.  She loves to do “Color Wonder” and play with play dough.  Her purse is a favorite toy and she recently filled it with items from all around the house.  She likes to swing and to jump on the trampoline.  She’d rather be outside than in and absolutely loves the pool.  She likes to run and to climb and I often find her after she’s pulled a chair to the counter to climb up and get something that she wants.  She pulls the outlet safety covers off of the outlets and totally gives me gray hairs.  She scares me half to death constantly trying to undo her buckle to climb out of the grocery cart while I am shopping and is known to throw things out of the cart while she’s at it.  She gives the best hugs and kisses and loves to hold hands.  She is my girl, my Baby Girl.