And then life got messy. Again.

Friday night I fell asleep on the couch watching TV. I woke up and saw that Jason was asleep too. It felt like 2am but it was only a little after 11. We peeled ourselves off the couch, set the alarm, turned out the lights and crawled into bed. Early for us on a Friday night but I had planned to be up at the crack of dawn Saturday for Ali’s swimming lesson. A few minutes later Jason’s phone rang and he ignored it, too sleepy to take a call from an unfamiliar number, though we both knew what the call probably was… a few minutes later I couldn’t resist and went out to the kitchen to check my cell phone. 1 missed call. Our home phone. 1 missed call and a voice mail. While I was checking the voice mail, my cell phone rang again. As we had guessed, it was a placement worker calling about a 2.5 year old boy that needed somewhere to go. We had a full weekend planned with swimming lessons, family visiting, a surprise birthday party for my mom, a good friends son’s dedication celebration. Not to mention catching up on sleep. In the short moments I had to say yes or no, I realized that inconvenience was not an appropriate reason to say no. So I said yes. Two hours later, around 1am a terrified half dressed little boy was delivered to our house by two social workers. For the sake of this blog, I’m going to nickname him Buzz. (Because he loves Woody from Toy Story but I’m not going to nickname him Woody…)

It’s been a long weekend. Exhausting. Emotional. Full of family and friends. Busy. Fun. Tiring. Eye-opening. It’s been so many things. We have a very sad little boy living with us. We had a visit with his mom yesterday and she’s even sadder than he is. I can’t imagine the pain that they’re both going through right now; it’s been heartbreaking to witness. I’m thankful that we had the opportunity to meet her and have a visit away from the department and to hear her side of things, which frankly makes much more sense than the fragmented and inconsistent information we’ve gotten from them so far. We have a team meeting soon and we’ll hopefully find out more about the permanency plan for Buzz. Based on what we know so far, we’re whole-heartedly rooting for reunification and believe that’s best for Buzz; there is no reason to assume he’ll be with us long term or forever.


We’re all adjusting. Ali and Buzz are getting along quite well, with just a few squabbles over sharing. Ali is having to share not just her toys, but her parental attention. It’s a big change but she’s doing pretty well. Buzz is responding pretty well to discipline. Jason has been doing an incredible job with him. When he’s getting out of control, Jason will take him aside and have a talk with him and he comes back behaving appropriately. I’m so proud of how my husband is doing as a fill-in father and Buzz is really taking to him. He’s attaching quickly to all three of us which is so healthy. I like the shy little boy when he’s timid about a new situation and wants to hold one of our hands or be carried, but I also like the confident little boy who runs around and plays with other kids with a huge grin on his face.


I assumed the first day he was being on his best behavior and that we’d start to see more acting out as he got more comfortable but so far it seems like the opposite is true. I think he was in flight/fight/freeze mode (mostly freeze) the first day which was clouding his communication among other things. Sunday seemed much smoother. For a little guy who is dealing with a tremendous amount of new people, places, things, rules, etc. and at the same time dealing with the trauma of being separated from his family—he’s really doing remarkably well.

This is hard, there is no doubt about it. But God is so close! We’ve had wonderful opportunities to pray over Buzz and even to hug/cry with/pray over his mama. It’s truly awesome to see someone’s tense, fearful posture relax and sigh relief as we pray for God to bring peace and comfort to their hearts. God hears and cares so much about his precious babies. Loving Buzz is the easy part in all of this. Adjustment is tiring. The emotions can be truly exhausting. It’s a blessing to see God move powerfully. He is near to the brokenhearted!

So our life got messy again. I guess that’s what we signed up for. Prayers are definitely appreciated. For Buzz. For his mom. For us. For everything!


Note: I never share real names or pictures of faces of any kids who are in state custody. It’s for their privacy and safety.


15 Responses to And then life got messy. Again.

  1. Amber says:

    Awesome! I’m praying hard for you guys!

  2. Heather in WA State says:

    Bravo to you for answering the call. You give so much care and guidance, not just to the child in your care, but to their struggling family as well. You are an inspiration.

  3. misseves says:

    I love the second picture you posted! It’s such a beautiful expression of love. As a foster/adoptive parent seeing my kids move though through the world with confidence makes me feel like they’re catching the love I have for them. The picture shows the love Jason’s pouring in and the confidence Ali’s imparting. She’s secure in the world because of your love. It’s an amazing gift she has to give the children who come to you.

    • mahlbrandt says:

      I really appreciate this thoughtful comment. There have been so many moments where I feel like I’m looking at an accurate physical picture of what is going on in the spirit/heart and suddenly things seem simple and clear. Thank you for seeing and sharing this encouraging word.

  4. anniegoat says:

    It really is so awesome when you get to meet the birthparents while they are in custody. All of the fear disappears. They don’t seem threatening (mostly). They just seem human making bad choices.

    • mahlbrandt says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely a game changer for perspective. I think it’s so valuable for foster parents to know as much as possible about the situation and that includes hearing the parents’ side of the story and observing how they interact with their kiddos.

  5. Brian Carlson says:

    Very inspiring.

  6. Darci says:

    ~praying for all of you!

  7. Ginger Ahlbrandt says:

    So glad you got to meet his Mama. What a relief for her to know that she is not being judged but prayed for and loved, just as she knows you are doing with her little darling. We are praying for you all! Love 🙂

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