Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knowing my role..

Last week, I was talking to someone who works for the state, and through our conversation she realized we never started our foster care journey to adopt.  She was surprised and said it was almost a general consensus around there that most of us who begin this process want to adopt.  It made me think how skewed I must let my role become sometimes.

I am a foster parent.  I am still a foster parent at this very moment.  Even though, we have two children in our home who are available for adoption does not mean that has happened.  I still have to ask permission to cut their hair (or maybe I don't, but I just do), I still can't pack up and leave the state with them, I cannot post any pictures with them in it.  Does that seem petty and irritating to me?  Some days it does and that's because I am allowing my role to be skewed.

When we began fostering I gave little thought to the bio parents.  Crazy I know.  I was so focused on the children we would receive and how that would go.  When we had B and school started back, I quickly realized he had visits smack dab in the middle of a school day and it interfered with pick up time for Addison.  I was irritated.  It would work out so much better if he had visits at the beginning of the day when he was more awake, happy and then I could get kids home, settled and napped.  Not to mention on Tuesday when I was going to start doing Bible Study, it wouldn't work at all.  Then, at the very first visit I had the opportunity to meet his mom and things changed for me.  I realized this wasn't about me and my needs or convenience at all.  I was normally able to keep my complaining in check until the weekend visits started.  Oh goodness.  Irritating once again.  I mean, they didn't stick to our schedule, they didn't feed him when I wanted and so forth and so forth.  Somewhere again, I lost my role.  I forgot what I was called to do.  J.O. was usually quick to remind me and then I would be grounded again.  We always had the talk that YES....we are definitely an advocate for the child during this time, but it's not about us.  I firmly believe that you should be in contact with your ad litem and truly be a voice for the child if you see behaviors or delays that need addressing.  But at the end of the day, you are called to love this child, care for this child and support reasonable reunification efforts.  Even if you don't understand it.

I can say with 100% honesty, that I wish our current situation would have been different from the beginning. I wish the bio mom would've had the strength and support she needed to get help.  The few times I was able to be around her, I felt such a draw to her.  She loved seeing pics of her girls and really had a deep desire for them to come home.  She just didn't know how to get there.

We are in a holding pattern right now.  We are waiting on things to get in motion and waiting on other things to be finalized.  We are waiting on papers, documents, hearings, etc.  I would love to say patience is my strong suit but its not.  I would love to say I have had a glowing attitude through all the waiting we have previously endured but I have not.  However, I am determined to continue my role with these girls until the day (hopefully) you can see their faces.  That may mean some inconvenient visits, permission for things we deem silly and so much more.  One thing I do know with certainty is this....Our journey started as a foster care ONLY journey and I would have never dreamed a year and a half later we would be on this path.  However, I am thankful for a God who has gone before me and is seeing fit to slowly mold our story and plan, into His story and plan.

Friday, August 22, 2014

God is in the details.....

I have told the story how we got the girls as a placement before, but it bears repeating sometimes.  Last July, I wrote in my journal that I felt God was calling us to take a toddler.  I literally wrote that I wasn't sure what it meant and that J.O. would never agree.  We had B at the time and sleep was rare, if ever.  A few weeks later, I saw a respite request for a toddler on a FB page we are on, and it just jumped out at me.  It was for a Wed-Fri and it stated that she went to a daycare during the day.  Another CALL family had actually planned to keep her but something had come up and she couldn't. Enter us.

I picked Anna up on July 17th, 2013 and she just stole our hearts.  I walked in her daycare and she came right to me and then cried the whole way home.  She was scared but immediately attached to me.  She called me 'ma' and wouldn't let Trey or Addy touch me.  We took her back Friday and I immediately told J.O., I had to continue to see her.  We started getting her weekends and then when her siblings came into care at the beginning of August, we started getting her more and more to help out.  We totally fell in love with her and honestly I felt she was ours, but there were 2 other siblings I had never even met.

That schedule continued and one day I was driving to B's court hearing in October.  Anna was with her aunt, but the aunt had indicated she wasn't sure how long she would be able to keep her.  On the way to that court hearing, I just prayed for answers.  I wanted direction with B and direction with Anna.  That hearing is when we found out B would be transitioning to family over the next month and we started getting Anna more and more.

After B left, we planned a little vacation and when we were leaving we found out the siblings would be moving.  We made our desire known to have Anna, but also knew they needed to stay together if possible.  When we got home from NY on Dec 7th, we drove straight to the aunts house in the ice and got Anna.  We were keeping her until the caseworker had a placement.  During the next few days, the aunt decided it was best if the older brother stayed with her and we agreed to take Abby and Anna.  We knew it would be a huge adjustment and wasn't sure what was going to happen.  They were placed at our house December 17th, 2013.

Abby took so much longer to adjust to us.  There was a period of time that it was a possible she may go back with her aunt, and there were lots of times I wondered if that wasn't what was best.  She didn't seem to really bond with me.  Then, one day several months ago it changed.  She chose me over other people and started screaming mama whenever I was around.  She is still way more reserved than Anna, but that's just her personality.  It was then, J.O. and I wondered if we could possibly adopt both, but we still didn't think it would work out.

Through so many different details and series of events, we found out today, that we are starting the process to adopt.  Nothing is final with DHS until the ink is dry, but we know that once again, God is in the details.  Is there still loss for the girls in this story?  Absolutely.  In reality, this is the best possible solution for all, but there is still loss.  It is still a harsh reality that our family is being formed, because another family broke apart.  However, the girls have a story with God written all over it and one day, I hope they will be able to understand that.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Every. Single. Time.

When we started the journey to fostering, I found a verse that I decided I was going to cling to.  It was Proverbs 3: 5-6 and I was going to obey all of it and not just some of it.  What most people don't realize when they hear someone has started fostering, is that the process actually began for them a long time ago.  The conviction process for me began the summer of 2012.  I knew God was working on me in some way but didn't know how.  I went on a mission trip that summer with my church thinking that would help settle me (and it did a bit) and my MIL strongly encouraged me to start journaling.  So, I picked up a journal with lots of pages to last me awhile and decided to save it for times I really needed to get things out.  It has different verses printed on the bottom and I did my first entry June 17, 2012.

What I soon realized (without realizing it at first) was every time I was in turmoil and decided to journal that Proverbs 3: 5-6 was at the bottom.  Every. Single. Time.  To prove that I am not being dramatic I am going to list these times for you.

July 31, 2012- My entry was about school being about to start and I had no peace about heading full time.  I prayed for direction.

October 25, 2012- J.O. and I turned in our paperwork to begin the fostering process.

March 6, 2013- Tough place spiritually and knowing what to do next.

May 9, 2013-  Pure anxiety about talking in church on Mothers Day (where I closed with this verse)

June 20, 2013-  Found out baby B wasn't going with who we thought he was.  Changed the whole case.

August 8, 2013-  First day of school for Trey and my very first time since pre-k not working at his school.

November 11, 2013-  I wrote that I didn't want to journal because I was confused about what to do with Anna or what would happen but felt I should.  This verse was at the bottom.

March 12, 2013-  Simply started this entry with "everytime Lord...everytime"  It was about our court hearing and we found out goal in the case was changed.

Today- Was in my bathroom about to dry my hair and I felt led to journal.  I didn't want to...I'm cranky, anxious and really just sick and tired of a lot of things but decided to.  Sat down and even mumbled "this is way that verse is at the bottom of the page."  But it was.

We have a staffing today at 3:00.  I'm guardedly optimistic a direction will be put in place for their future.  I am guardedly hopeful that Anna, Abby and B will get the permanency they need especially after a year and a half of this for Anna.  I am hopeful that today, these children will be a priority and their needs will come first.

But, what I do know, is that once again no matter the outcome, I have been told time and time again to
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

I think I will be most upset if we leave today with no direction once again.  However, that is a part of trusting the complete verse and not just the parts that fit my needs.  I will acknowledge that He will direct our paths and I will not lean on what I think should happen with my limited understanding.  I will also be grateful, that no matter what, God cares enough for me to remind me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Make me uncomfortable.....

This little girl is a picture of my something hard.  Those who know the girls, know that she is actually the easier of the two, but she still represents what I never thought I could do.

A little over a year ago, I read where one of my friends asked God to help her be uncomfortable.  I will be honest...I read that and thought "more power to you sister, but I am good."  I continued to think about this though and realized I felt convicted to pray the same way.  So I did and time went by without too much changing.  We had baby B at the time and Anna most weekends, so I really figured that was my something hard because Anna knows how to keep you on your toes.  After B left, I knew there was something more for us to do.  I still thought about praying for God to make me uncomfortable often, but I just wasn't sure what it meant.

Fast forward a month and we were asked to take 2 of the 3 siblings.  After we said yes, I hit panic mode for a bit.  Seriously 2 more full time??  We were fine with that on some weekends but all the time?  Plus, I had seen this baby once before.  How would she sleep, how would she react to the new environment?  How would we continue to go and do like we are accustomed to with 2 small kids?

The night they were dropped off was so hard for me.  I remember sitting in a chair in our front room and just crying while she slept.  I felt so bad.  She was scared when I laid her down and wondering who these strange people were and the different smells.  Anna was upstairs asleep but also very confused about why her sister had come with her.  I had never felt so helpless and confused.  I also had thoughts of "what have I done....wonder if this was a huge mistake."

I will be took Abby a lot longer to settle in and adjust here than it ever took Anna.  Anna walked in on day one and took over the house.  Abby didn't.  She fussed with me, she honestly didn't seem to bond with me quickly.  She was fine if I didn't pick her up or see her for a bit.  Looking back now, she was 8 mths old when she first met me/us.  Why did I expect her to be so excited that this new and amazing family had decided to take her in?  Baby or not, she had formed all her early attachments somewhere else and needed lots of time to adjust.  She is still not a bubbly child who likes to feed an adults ego by smiling and laughing at them.  She is fine sitting alone and playing by herself and if you get too close she will most likely hit you if the mood strikes.

But, watching her the other day it finally clicked.  She was my "something hard and uncomfortable."  She made me realize how good it can be when you allow yourself to be put outside your comfort zone and not just pray reactively but expectantly.  Watching the two girls together is something that everyone should see.  There is a bond they have that is almost unexplainable.  Trey and Addison can't imagine being apart so they don't act as if it's a possibility.  Taking siblings is something I NEVER thought I would do.  However, I am so glad that one day over a year ago I was convicted to pray to be uncomfortable.  If I hadn't, I wouldn't have spent the last 7 1/2 months with a quiet, hot tempered, smart, feisty, funny, little girl.