Category Archives: foster parenting

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.

Pipsqueak arrives

We were on our way home from our family vacation when we received the call that a baby girl needed a home. We said yes. This is our first foster care placement and we’ve learned A LOT. Mostly the “newborn” thing is old hat for our family, this is our 6th time going through that (7th if you count the brief month with our newborn cousin last year). Chris and I become a little like drowning strangers, we are sleep deprived and on edge. I pray more in the first few months of my babies lives than I ever do because I constantly feel overjoyed and stressed to the max. I can’t share her story but I brought her home from the hospital and she’s been here since she was 12 days old. The kids fell in love with her immediately. September 2016 we went from a family of 7 to a family of 8 in the span of one phone call.

Jonah turns 5

Jonah-baby turned 5 in September. When we refer to Theodore, Parker and Jonah around here we usually say “the 3 little boys”. Now that they are 9,7 and 5 they aren’t so little but Jonah is technically the baby of the family. Well, he was until 4 days before his birthday when Pipsqueak joined us. Jonah is…SWEET. He has big brown eyes, precious little verbal and facial expressions and loves to cuddle. He tries his best to do everything that all the big kids are doing. He is well-behaved and quick to learn if he gets in trouble. He is a little bit of a daredevil but he’s made it a whole year without a trip to the ER so that’s a plus. He’s recently gotten the chance to see what it feels like to be the “big” brother and he has excelled at that role. I’ve been surprised at how nurturing he is toward Pipsqueak. Since she’s been here he’s started to care for his Mickey Mouse the way I care for her. When we went to the dentist the other day he insisted on having a bag for Mickey’s stuff and that Mickey needed a diaper and a bottle. As I suspected at the beginning of the school year, he has excelled in his K4 year and knows many of his letters, phonics and numbers. He isn’t catching on with handwriting yet but we have time! In this house, you get to be a little boy first and a student second.

New title and tagline

WordPress is sending me daily emails. Trying to help me with my blog education. Today I was supposed to update my title and tagline.

When we got our first foster care placement back in September, our number of kids went from 5 to 6. At the time, my Instagram account was titled 5grubbworms. That was driving me crazy because now there weren’t just 5 there were 6. Even if Pipsqueak is only here for a little while, she’s a Grubb while she’s here. So I pondered changing it to 6grubbworms but I have no idea if we will foster more children in the future so why place a limit on the number? So my @5grubbworms became @allthelittlegrubbs on Instagram and I liked it so much I decided to revamp the blog name too.

The tagline is a different story and requires a little more explanation.

I love children. All the children. I really do. I’m the grown-up who will fight for the kids. I want to protect them all, heal them all, love them all. I would gladly give them my all.

Unfortunately, I’m also an introvert. Most small humans under the age of 18 tend to be loud and have endless stores of energy and emotional needs. It’s the way they are wired.

In essence, what I love about children – their innocence, kindness, excitement, energy, creativity, transparency, affectionate natures and potential, is also what is so, so exhausting.

Are they worth it though? Are they worth wanting to crawl into a shell after being with them all day? Are they worth never getting to have a complete adult conversation? Of not having time to read a book, or write a blog post, go on trips, etc.? Of course. No doubt.

My new tagline: Give me all the children. Then get them away from me.

First call (calls, actually)

Yesterday it finally happened. I was enjoying time with my children and a couple of great friends at my parents’ pool. We were just about to pack up and come home and get ready for church and my phone rang with a local number I didn’t have listed in my contacts. It was DCS Placement! I quickly walked to a quiet spot and held my breath while the lady gave me the details. I told her that I needed to talk with my husband and I would call back as soon as I could. The catch? Chris is in Guam. That’s a HUGE time difference (14 hours to be exact) and he was trying to sleep. It was early morning hours there. She told me that she would continue to try and find a home and then she would call me back if/when she did. I told her I would call her back as soon as I was able to speak with him.

Chris and I had agreed that we would not take a placement without first discussing it and getting a “yes” from both of us. While I waited the 3 or so hours for us to be able to communicate, I prayed like crazy. For any placement, I want our family to be THE place that God would have the child be for the time they need us. I am not so concerned that the child will be a good fit for us, rather the other way around. I want God to be able to use our family, church family, friends to minister to that child. He has to be in control or this whole thing will be a train wreck.

Before I could get Chris on FaceTime or via text, DCS called back. They had found the little girl a home. I was so thankful. Thankful that she would have a place to sleep and more than thankful that God handled the situation better than I would have. In fact, if Chris had been a phone call away, which he almost always is, I would have probably relied on my own logic and arguing to get him to say yes. I don’t know that he would have. We’ve prayed and planned and know that 0-3 years is the age range we feel equipped for right now. But I am a good debater. And Chris, well, he’s a big, ole teddy bear.

That first call came at 3:30pm. When she called me back about 5pm and said “we found her a home,” she was sure to reassure me that they would be calling again. At 8pm, as we pulled into the garage from church, they did call again. This time for a boy, the same age as Foster. I knew I had to say “no”. But that “no” was more heartbreaking than the first call. Thinking of my amazing 12 year old and his friends. The ones who are so full of life, humor, confidence, ideas and insecurities being taken out of their home and placed with strangers? It’s enough to keep you awake at night. Foster said, “I need to start building a room on the house so we could take kids like that. It’s not fair.”

I completely agree with him.

Approved

Our journey to foster parenting has reached the next step. Along with the many hours of training classes, we had to gather what felt like a thousand documents, medical records, financial information, shot records (for the dog and the kids), references, insurance documentation and more. I am thankful that I have the history of working with foster care kids and agencies because I really didn’t feel put out by all of this. We had to jump through many other hoops (have a fire extinguisher handy, lock up the medications, etc.). If you are interested in what all we had to do, ask me and I’ll be glad to tell you!

On July 7, 2016 we received an official letter stating that we have been approved as a foster home for the State of Tennessee. I texted my closest people and shared the good news with them. I was thinking that we could get a call at any time. Then, I got a text from our foster parent support worker (social workers are texting these days). He said that we’re NOW fully approved and he wanted to stop by and chat, show me some things on the DCS website and he was giving our names to placement TODAY. That was yesterday. Right before my friend and I were heading out of town for a retreat with some monks (more on that later).

So NOW we are fully approved and even though our parameters are very small (single baby 0-3 years old) and we probably won’t get a call soon, we are ready and we are available!