Hard wait

I sorted clothes today at one of our local foster care closets. I helped a teen boy, 15-years-old, pick out some jeans and shirts. I had him laughing because I was teasing him that his favorite color must be gray. I offered him a sweater and told him he’d look like Mr. Rogers. Once I had made him smile, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to say, “Hey, I get that life really sucks today. But hang in there.” But I didn’t.

Driving home from volunteering there today I was overwhelmed with some really big feelings. Monday of this week, we got 3 calls for teens in less than an 8 hour time span. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week a teen that is very close to our family was texting me, sharing that she’s having a bad week. Then Thursday (today), I meet this young man at the closet.

He wasn’t in school today because he just came into care with his siblings.

So, yeah. Big feelings.

My own teenage son and his siblings aren’t in school today either. They’re not even doing schoolwork here because they are on a trip with their grandparents. Getting to swim, ride bikes, play laser tag. They are eating junk food and watching too many movies. They’re making memories and getting loved on.

They aren’t standing awkwardly with adults asking them what size they wear and handing them used clothing and shoes and a coat that’s a little too big. They aren’t wondering what tomorrow will hold. When they will see or talk to their parents? What will school be like now?

This is painful. This wait. I know now isn’t the time for us to take in teens from foster care.

And I know, logically, that because our family is big and that often times sibling groups come into care together, that getting a call for a single child isn’t going to happen as often. I get it.

But, friends, this is a hard wait. Knowing, meeting, seeing all the children that need care and feeling like we can’t just say, “yes, bring them here.” It’s heart-wrenching.

So I am continuing to lean on truth. And help where I can.

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Katie turns 12

My girl! She’s growing up. This past year she has changed a lot, I feel like the teen years start early for girls. She’s had all the emotions and feelings and some friend drama sprinkled in. She’s asking bigger questions and digging deeper to find answers. She cries a little easier, especially if she thinks she has disappointed her daddy or I. She snaps a little faster if someone is hateful or rude to her. But she is still so kind and patient. She is smart, eager to learn. She loves Science and World Geography and she tackled a 2000 piece puzzle and completed it in 2 weeks. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see all the amazing things she will do.

 

1st Birthday and Going Home

Pipsqueak turned 1 year old in September. We were able to have her first birthday party here at our home with her new mommy and daddy. She spent one last night with us on her birthday and then headed home with them the next day. I think it’s safe to say we all miss her. Some of us more than others (Parker asks about her almost every day).

I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions over the past 2 months. I kept hoping they would hurry and call with another child who needed us but I see now that God knew I needed a little breather.

Her adoptive momma keeps me posted with pictures and videos, asks me questions about what to feed her next and whether we’ve gotten a new foster kiddo yet. I think it helps in some ways to still have the contact but in other ways its hard to see *my* baby hitting all these milestones without me/us to see them and be there for her.

The thing is she’s not mine, not ours and we know that. I am so thankful that God allowed us to have her for a year. She was placed in our home for exactly 365 days. That’s pretty crazy in the foster care world. I feel like everything about Pipsqueak and her time here, God had perfected from the beginning. His ways are not our ways and seeing that in such a tangible way has grown me closer to Him.

Jonah turns 6

Jonah turned 6 years old on September 28th. He is a smart, sweet little boy with an active imagination. He loves to help his older siblings and he really enjoyed being a “big” brother while Pipsqueak was here. This is his Kindergarten year and he’s eager to learn to read so he can get his own library card like the big kids. Some days he takes advantage of his status as youngest but most of the time he’s pretty mature for his age. He has several “friends” that he drags around the house with him like his little, satin brown lovey, his Mickey Mouse and his other animals daddy has brought home from trips. His big brown eyes and sweet smile light up my world. We love you, Jonah-baby!

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Foster Parent Conference 2017

We were able to knock out a ton of training hours this past weekend. Now we have until next June to get one last hour and we can do that online! It’s one less DCS induced stressor that won’t be hanging over my head. (Still need to get the dog’s shot records up-to-date…shh…)

The best thing about the weekend was just getting to be with Chris. He is rarely the only person I need to pay attention to and it’s a luxury when that can happen. We spent 14 hours in training or listening to keynote speakers, so there wasn’t a ton of free time. We did get to hang out with another foster parent couple from our neck of the woods on Saturday night. Sunday we cut out early so we could go visit some family at their church.

I had been holding my breath waiting for September. I needed this trip and I needed for our little foster baby, Pipsqueak, to get some good news about going home to her forever family. Her first birthday is this month. I was wrestling with God trying to push and push and getting frustrated at His lack of compliance. (I’m not sure why the ruler of the universe won’t just do what makes my life easier…but He doesn’t.)

What was making things harder for me, personally, was that every day I was feeling more like I can’t let this human go. If she starts walking, if she starts calling me “mommy”, if she cries when I leave her in the nursery, I’m not going to be able to do it. I felt like I was ready to let her go. And I had accepted her being adopted by her forever family 6 months ago. So she needed to just go NOW. Which is when I like things done.

God is so gracious. Patient with my impatience. He had worked it all out ahead of time and I just needed to trust this is all in His timing. But, man, foster care will take you through the ringer. Two months before we were to leave for the weekend conference, Pipsqueak’s family had planned to come and keep her over the weekend, then hopefully take her home right after her first birthday. Speaking about this and not divulging too much is a fine line. Basically, they live FAR away. They can’t just pop in and get her when they want to, or be here at the drop of a hat for court or visits.

Then just a few days before we were to leave, I get a text from her forever mommy that says that a certain DCS office has still not sent some extremely important paperwork to the licensing office. At that point, I had to just give it to God. I had to accept that His plan was greater than mine. That she would take her first steps with us. That it could be another month or three before they finally got to take her home.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you wanted something so badly and you are praying and waiting and thinking it’s never going to happen and then you finally let go and it does? That’s what this was like.

Literally 42 hours before we left (I was counting down, don’t judge), I got a text saying that licensing had received the packet and was coming to visit their home 2 hours before they needed to leave their state and head to ours. It was a miracle. THEN the next day, shortly after we arrived at the conference I got a call from Pipsqueak’s caseworker, letting me know that ON HER BIRTHDAY we were going to have her last CFTM (big important meeting) and that she would be placed with her forever family.

You guys, God. I just sit in awe and wonder of His GRACE, MERCY, LOVE.

Because I got that call, I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband. And we were able to begin to talk about what it will be like to let our little Pipsqueak go. We were able to start processing together the changes it will make in our family and for the big kids.

God is so good. 21368707_10212821857768999_2279935667135562710_o

Pipsqueak – month by month

August 24th marked 11 months since we brought Pipsqueak home from the hospital. When we were doing our foster parent training classes I was struggling to get the necessary items ready at home. The only thing I knew was that we were open to accepting one child, a girl, 0-4 years old. That’s a huge age range when it comes to what they may need or wear or even sleep in.

As I went to garage sales, accepted donations from friends, etc. I kept being drawn to the newborn items. Not because they were cute (which they are). It was because I just had a feeling we would get a call for a newborn. Unfortunately, our area of the country is ravaged by drug addiction and mothers who are having drug-exposed or NAS babies. One of my best friends would often remind me that I didn’t need to stress about having all the newborn baby items because there was a good possibility we would get a call for a 2 or 3 year old.

She was right, of course, and we did get a few calls that we weren’t able to take. One call was the right age (4 years old) and gender and just a single child but Chris was in Guam and I couldn’t make contact with him in time to take that placement. Another call was about a 2-year-old little girl,  a middle-of-the-night call while we were in another state on vacation.

As we’ve spent the last 11 months caring for and loving Pipsqueak, I’ve seen all the ways that God’s will is sovereign and perfect. She is due to be placed with her adoptive family any day now. The question that I get the most often is whether I’ll have a hard time letting her go. I hesitate to be brutally honest about it, unless it’s one of my best friends (including my hubby). They already know me and my heart. But other people outside of that circle really have a hard time understanding when I say “no, I think I will be just fine when she moves” and I really mean that. I will be more than fine. I will be so happy that she is finally getting the permanency she deserves. God prepared my heart months ago. Now it’s just the waiting that is hard.

I’m not a good waiting person. I know this. My husband knows this all too well. I feel like all the time that has been wasted on legalities and bureaucracy could have been time for her to bond with her forever family. It also could have been time where another child who needs a home could have been placed with us. However, I know God knows more than I do. He has a plan. He has a purpose. In foster care, it seems I have to strive to simultaneously trust Him (WAIT! BE STILL!) and advocate (LET’S GO PEOPLE!) for Pipsqueak’s case to keep moving forward.

Pipsqueak has taught myself, my husband and my children a lot about what it means to sacrifice for another person. And I hope that we have been all that she has needed and more in her first year of life.

I’m 41, he’s 37

I guess we didn’t get any birthday cake with number candles for ourselves this year. We need to do a better job with that in 2018.

We do our best to make each other feel loved and special. With this busy life, we tend to put ourselves and our marriage on the back burner. But we listen to one another. He gets me special chocolate that I love or sends me an Amazon wish list item just because. I try to surprise him with concert tickets and make sure he gets his *gross* sushi.

Most of all, we count ourselves blessed every birthday that we have together. Couples aren’t guaranteed any time together. Our anniversary is March, my birthday April and his is in May. Then we spend the rest of the year focused on everyone else.

I love you sweetheart! You’re my handsome baby-daddy that I love so, so much.