Transitioning Bee into our Household

11/30/2013

Thanksgiving marked our first full week with Ms. Bee. I would have liked to write an update sooner but my hands have been pretty full. A year ago when we were thinking about reopening our home as foster parents, I didn’t think I wanted to parent another baby. I was hoping for a child older than Alianna. God heard my heart and we got 2.5 year old Buzz Lightyear. It was hard; really hard. The closeness of his and Ali’s age; the fact that he was grieving and angry and missing his mom; the fact that they were both close to 2 years old; it was our first experience parenting two children…it was a very challenging season that ended up being very rewarding. We’re thankful we were able to support he and his mom during that time. By the end of it, I was starting to think about babies again. I take back what I said…I want a baby again. My fellow Facebook and Instagram foster mamas understand this as “foster baby fever.”

Again, God heard my heart and we got Bee. Jason and I are both really, really enjoying having a baby around again. I actually said to him the other day, “Maybe we should only foster babies. They’re so much easier.” This time around is much more relaxed: we’ve done baby before, we’ve done parenting two kids before, we’ve done the foster care system before. It’s taken a few days to figure out how much Bee needs to sleep each day and how much formula she drinks and how often. We’re gently nudging her towards a schedule we prefer. She sleeps well: 10-11 hours most nights and takes 3-4 naps a day. It’s kind of amazing how much more laid back we are as parents this time around. Oh, and babies are so easy to love and attach to! Jason and I are already smitten with little Bee. We’re pretty sure her stay with us will be short term but that doesn’t stop us from falling completely in love with her.

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Alianna’s transition into big sisterhood has been the biggest learning curve. We’ve seen jealously and regression. We weren’t able to prepare her much for this experience. I’ve told her many times that Buzz’s bedroom would soon belong to another child and we’d have someone else come and live with us for a while. I only had an hour warning about Bee specifically and I knew that even with that, it wasn’t a guarantee that she was coming until her case worker called back to say, “We’re leaving the office now.” That gave me about 15 minutes switch from, “There may be a baby girl coming here tonight,” to “Ali, there is a baby sister coming here tonight. She’s going to stay with us for a while just like Buzz did.” The second day I heard Ali tell Bee to go away a couple times. She asked me if Bee was going home to her mommy. We’ve explained many times that Buzz is home with his mommy so I’m not sure if Ali was hoping Bee’s going home with her mommy (now) or if she’s asking the bigger question that we’re all asking, is she going to leave?

I believe the jealousy and regression have a lot to do with the sudden influx of baby toys, products and contraptions. Within a day or two we had a bouncy seat, Bumbo, swing, Johnny Jump Up and some kind of activity center jumping unit. In addition to that, we have bottles, bibs, burp cloths, blankets, rattles, teethers, toys and crinkle books. I can’t blame Ali at all for being jealous and for wanting to try out everything and be a baby, too. A mom of three confirmed my hunch that we should both indulge and discourage her behavior. Allow her to check things out and pretend to be a baby but keep reminding her that she doesn’t need those things anymore because she’s a big girl now. She’s been pretty good about helping me, especially getting a new diaper and wipe and taking the dirties to the trash can. She loves Bee and most of the time wants to be near her, gives her kisses, asks were she is and what she is saying. I can confidently say that after a week things are feeling pretty normal.

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Introducing… Bee!

11/25/2013

On Thursday afternoon we got a call—only our third call in 3.5 weeks of being open to new placements—and it was a “yes” call. A 6-month old girl? A baby? Yes! God has been preparing my heart since August for our next placement to be a baby girl…ever since I found out Alianna’s biological mom was pregnant with a girl. Bee is not Ali’s biological sister, however, I know that God was preparing me for Bee as well as putting that baby sister on my heart so I’d pray for her a lot. In fact, when I found out baby sister was coming into state custody, I bought some formula, diapers and a newborn onesie from the clearance rack at Target just in case. They put baby sister with another family member so we never got that call. However, funny how God works isn’t it? That onesie I bought just in case…I found an exact duplicate in the tub of clothing that came with Bee!

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I love when God gives me these little signs to show that He knows me and He cares what matters to my heart.

So, back to baby Bee. That’s not her real name, of course. It’s my online nickname for her. We don’t really know how long she’ll be with us at this point. There is a family member out-of-state that they’re hoping will work for her placement but state-to-state transfers and documentation can be slow. Initially we were told it might take 6 months. By the next day, we heard they’re going to try to expedite it, but they still couldn’t give me a time frame. Just “faster.” One day at a time. It would be nice to know if she’ll be with us for Christmas so I can prepare but such is the way of foster care.

Bee is a big baby! That’s part of the reason for the nickname…she’s round and bumbly. I though Ali was a big baby but Bee is already too big for all the 6 month clothes she came with. I have some 9 and 12 month hand-me-downs from Ali that suit her much better. We’ve been blessed with another very easy-going, happy, good-sleeping baby. Praise the Lord! She is really delightful and we’re all so happy to have her join our household for however long we get to kiss her big, soft cheeks and inhale her delicious baby smell. I’ll write more about how we’re all transitioning when I have more time.

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Sugar and Spice

11/18/2013

Alianna has one cousin in Nashville, Eliza who is 5 months older than her. It’s such a blessing that they’re close in age and dear friends. They’re ying and yang, sugar and spice, opposities in many ways, and it’s so fun to see them playing together. They’re finally getting to the age where they don’t need so much supervision and my sister-in-law and I can sit back and chat while they play.

I grabbed my camera while these two girlies were having a dance party in Ali’s room the other day.

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Phone Photo Friday

11/15/2013

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See, this one knows about ease and refreshment.

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


Guilt-Free Waiting

11/14/2013

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It was on October 29th when we got our first call. Based on past experience, I expected the calls to continue coming every other day at least, until we got a “yes” call. But the phone hasn’t rung again. I was relieved. More time to rest. More time to prepare. More time to enjoy life as a family of three. But then the guilt started creeping in. I have a slew of foster mama friends (through social media) and many of them are in the trenches right now, doing the hard work of foster care. I started feeling guilty about all the sunshine and rainbows over here and wondering if some kid across town is suffering, waiting for a foster home to open up. On Friday, due to that guilt, I sent our FSW (family service worker) an email to make sure we are indeed on the call list and that the first call wasn’t a fluke.

On Tuesday morning, I opened up my Jesus Calling devotional to November 12. Once again, God used that little book to speak directly into my situation. In case you can’t read it in the picture above, here’s the first half:

 This is a time of abundance in your life. Your cup runneth over with blessings. After plodding uphill for many weeks, you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine. I want you to enjoy to the full this time of ease and refreshment. I delight in providing it for you. Sometimes My children hesitate to receive My good gifts with open hands. Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed. This is nonsense-thinking, because no one deserves anything from Me.

If that wasn’t enough to relieve my guilt, our FSW wrote back on Tuesday afternoon to confirm that we are on the list. We’ve done nothing wrong but calls have slowed down drastically as they’ve changed the way they do removals. I suspected this already because I read this news article. In short, they’re waiting until they hold a hearing before taking kids out of their homes. I think this is mostly good. I’m not at all in favor of the government being able to come and take away a child without a valid, proven reason. On the other hand, I’m concerned about kids languishing in rotten situations longer than necessary. Calls have slowed way down. Where are all the kids? Are there that many cases that don’t justify a removal? Or are there kids who are being left in abusive situations due to lack of evidence? Not much I can do in that situation but pray.

I’m doing my best to move forward into this time of ease and refreshment guilt-free. Thankfully, God has been speaking a lot lately (or is it that I’ve been listening better?) and He keeps assuring me that He knows what He’s doing, who He is bringing to our family next and when.

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Phone Photo Friday

11/08/2013

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I’m participating in a photo-a-day on Instagram called #knittogetherbyadoption. Yesterday’s prompt was “unknowns.” This is what I shared:

I am currently facing a ton of unknowns…who, what, where, when, why, how? When will the call come and who will our next child be? Why is he or she coming into#fostercare? Where is our next child right now and what is he or she going through? How will it all play out? Reunification or #adoption or some other path we haven’t walked yet? How long will he or she be with us? How will our household dynamic change? | Despite all of the unknowns, I have much more peace and patience this (4th) time around. I trust in God’s timing. I trust Him to match the child to our family that we’re best able to serve. As much as I like to plan, I also love surprises. #expecting #duedateunknown

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


Songs for the Foster Mama’s Heart

11/07/2013

These are not all on my original playlist; it’s a comprehensive list with suggestions from several other foster mama friends.

“Make You Feel My Love” by Adele

“All of Me” by Matt Hammitt

“I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

“These Hard Times” by Needtobreathe

“I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons

“Don’t Let It Get You Down” by Johnnyswim

“Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman

“Lay ‘Em Down” by Needtobreathe

“Follow You” by Leeland

“Hallelujah” by Johnnyswim

“Never Once” by Matt Redman

“Home” by Phillip Phillips

“Kings & Queens” by Audio Adrenaline

“One Drop” by Plumb

“Daylight” by Maroon 5

“One Thing Remains” by Passion

“Worn” by Tenth Avenue North

“Oceans” by Hillsong United

“Carry On” by Fun.

“Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford & Sons

“When a Heart Breaks” by Ben Rector

“Closer to Love” by Mat Kearney

“Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies]” by Passion

“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

“Kingdom Comes” by Sara Groves