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!

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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.

Lawyers…

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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

Eleven months ago, I was a mess…

Eleven months ago, I was a mess.  We had been “approved” to be foster parents for like A WHOLE MONTH AND A HALF and we had not yet gotten “the call.”  I cried at the drop of a hat.  I sat and questioned why, why, why we didn’t have foster children yet.  Were we not “good enough?”  I cried out to God begging for, “today to be the day,” yet those days were never the days… I was sad, I was worried, I was anxious.  We were ready!  We had been ready!  We had done everything that the government had asked us to do, TWICE!  You see, we had already completed an international adoption home study and then again completed a foster care home study, so in reality we had been through everything TWICE!  How much longer must we wait?

I am here to tell you this, those of you out there who are still waiting… YOUR TIME WILL COME!  Our’s did!  We were chosen on this day eleven months ago to receive the two most precious little angels into our home.  These two came with hurts, they came with trust issues, but I can say this without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, that they were meant to come and live with us.  God had such a perfect plan!

And, as I sat on my deck this morning taking pictures of my three youngest holding hands and going on a “treasure hunt” in our backyard, I realized something.  I am SO GLAD we didn’t get the call sooner, I am so happy we had to wait.  Because, the two we have in our lives right now are the ones God meant for us and we were meant for them.

Thank you, Lord Jesus for making me wait.  YOU HAVE A PERFECT PLAN!

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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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The little boy who wore these boots…

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The little boy who wore these boots entered my life six months, one week, and one day ago.  On that day he became my “Little Man.”  That first night as I held him in my arms and fed him powdered donuts, I knew my life would never be the same.  He didn’t wiggle his way into my heart, he came in and broke it wide open like a wild tornado rips apart everything in it’s path.  And that is what I called him, my little tornado.  Everything in his way was either hit, bit, thrown, kicked, or punched.  Nothing was easy with Little Man.  Eating a family meal became a thing of the past.  At least one family member had to hold Little Man on their lap to even get him to sit down.  Food was thrown, cups were tossed over, and milk was spit on the floor.  Diaper changes were wrestling matches.  Poop flew everywhere.  From the moment that he woke up to the moment he fell asleep at night Little Man was a little tornado running through our home causing havoc, but I loved him!  Injuries were frequent at our home in those days, busted lips from head-butts, bite marks that lasted weeks, and feelings were often hurt as Little Man struggled to figure out his new surroundings.  He was a fighter!  He fought our love, he fought our attempts to calm him down.  But, we loved him.  I don’t remember the day that he stopped being my little tornado, but one day I woke up and realized that he wasn’t anymore.  I saw him quietly sitting at the counter in my kitchen one morning eating cereal with my 9 year old son and he had his arm around him, brothers sitting eating breakfast.  It was either on or around that day that I realized that the little boy who wore those boots six months ago was no longer.  He didn’t fight our love anymore, he embraced it and he gave it back.  Biting was a thing of the past and I can’t tell you the last time he head-butted me when I was trying to calm him.  He now runs to us to get hugs and kisses and enjoys sitting in our laps to read books.  He eats at the table, sitting in his own big boy chair and he finishes all of his milk without spitting it (most of the time).  As I put Little Man to bed each night we pray together.  I pray he will come to know Jesus one day and that he will always feel loved.  I pray for his safety and I pray for his future.  My heart will always and forever have a place in it for my Little Man, the child that broke my heart wide open!

Our Monthly Visit

We had our monthly visit with our social worker from the agency this morning.  It went very well.  The babies and I were all set up outside  ready to enjoy running through the sprinkler, riding bikes, and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  The social worker and I talked as we watched the children play.  We talked about milestones that the children have reached over the past month and how our communication has been with the birth family.  We talked about the fact that another court hearing will be coming up later this month or early next month and how I should be prepared.  All in all, it was a great visit that ended with eating popsicles on the front porch and then of course baths for the babies since they were incredibly sticky after their yummy snack!