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A New Ship for Bee

02/20/2014

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I wish I had written this blog post because it so perfectly illustrates the voyage of a foster parent: setting sail with hope despite the storm clouds ahead, being shaken to the core and finding hidden strength, forging unlikely partnerships, easing out of the storm, saying goodbye, and then steering straight back into the storm, empty-handed on the way back home. We’re at the point of saying goodbye—releasing our foster daughter onto a new ship. Go read this post because it says it better than I can say.

In front of you awaits a new ship, fresh with hope readied to empower your partners with a new chapter.

They surround you with hugs and thanks, and in a flash you and your forevers are left to steer that battered ship back into the raging storm of grief to begin again.

Your heart lurches in fear as your empty arms ache for the one to whom you gave your heart…

The son or daughter of your soul.

We say goodbye to Baby Bee this morning. All of her clothes, toys, bottles, bibs, burp cloths, hats, coats, diapers and toiletries are packed into her suitcase, backpack, storage tub and random bags. Her family is waiting with eager anticipation to get their hands on “our” chubby little nine-month-old, to see how much she’s grown in the past month and to kiss all over her impossibly soft cheeks. Their tears of joy will mix with our tears of sadness, soaking into the same precious child.

There is an expression I’ve been hearing lately—I don’t know the source—that seems to be the only way to describe this mix of things stirred up by foster care: I’m feeling all of the feelings. While we’re sad that she’s leaving, we’re also happy for her and her family. We’re tired and relieved to have a break. We’re hopeful for the future. We’re frustrated that a perfectly capable relative was kept away from Bee for three months solely because of state lines. (Had the relatives been in the same state as Bee, she never would have entered foster care.) We’re thankful for the cooperation and friendship with her biological family. We’re satisfied with good case workers, attorneys, CASAs and judges who do their due diligence. We’re glad that we were able to be there for Bee when she needed a home, loving parents, advocates and a big sister. We’re ready for what’s next because what’s next is rest.

For the next 19 days, I will be saying “no” to any new placement calls. After that, the next chapter of our story begins.

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The Good/Bad News

01/27/2014

I’ve had so much going on lately that I’m not even sure where to start with blogging. I haven’t had time to mentally pre-write any posts. Busy at work. Busy with family. Busy at home. I know: Everyone is busy. Blah blah blah.

The title of my post is in reference to this news: We got official word that Bee’s ICPC has been approved by both states. At this point we’re just waiting for the court date where the judge here will sign off on the transfer. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty quick.

It’s good news. Bee is 8 months old and hitting new milestones as fast as she can pull off her socks. She got her first two teeth while she was visiting her family over the holidays and I was happy they got that gift. She’s been THISCLOSE to crawling for a couple weeks now and I’m hoping they’ll get the gift of seeing her crawl for the first time. They’ll get to witness her first pulling up to a stand, her first steps, her 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th etc. words. She has a family that loves her and is able to care for her. It’s where she belongs. I’m grateful that it’s only been two months—for her sake, for her family’s sake, for our sake. Because, dang, we’ve fallen in love hard and fast.

It’s bad news because we’re going to miss her a lot. Bee is sweet, cuddly and easy to love. She’s been calling us Mama and Dada, which melts our hearts. Her family is kind but I’m not confident that they’ll stay in touch considering they’re 8 hours away and we’ve only had minimal phone conversations related to pick up and drop off in the past 2 months. Alianna has been such a wonderful big sister to her and I know this goodbye is going to be hard for her. She still prays for Buzz and his mom everyday. As soon as I got the news, Jason explained to Ali that Bee will be leaving soon to go back home with her family. “Why?” Because we’ve just been taking care of her for a little while. Remember why we do what we do? Just like for [Buzz], when kids need a safe place to stay and live while their family gets ready for them, we take care of them here. “Awe…” as she hugged her. “I love [Bee].” Then he reminded Ali that she’ll be staying here because she’s part of our family forever.

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Bee is Back

01/15/2014

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We spent most of our afternoon Monday at a hearing for baby Bee’s case. I expected it to be quick and straightforward but it was not. The magistrate was slow and careful; very impressive actually. His concern about Bee and what is best for her was very evident. The short story is that she can’t leave the state of Tennessee to go with her family until the ICPC paperwork is approved. (ICPC=Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) Her grandma in Wisconsin has had her homestudy done and the papers have been sent off. From my understanding the papers sit on someone’s desk until they’re signed and approved at the county level, regional level, state level and then are sent back to Tennessee. It commonly takes about 6 months. It’s been 2 months. In four months Bee will be turning one.

Bee was handed back to us on Monday after the hearing. She had a bit of a bumpy transition but now seems comfortable with us and our home again. She’s really a sweetheart and so easy to love. I’m happy to have her back. She is a joy.

Tuesday morning we got up before the sun to drop Bee off at daycare and then head to the courthouse again, this time with Ali, for a trial related to her baby sister Trust’s case. (Not her real name.) We brought Ali because her biological mom invited us to the trial and asked us to bring her since they haven’t seen each other in over two years. However, she didn’t show up. We did get to meet baby Trust and speak with her biological father, however not about our desire to have Trust with us. Those who are aware of our desire to have baby Trust with us so that the sisters can be together don’t really seem to care what we think or want (case workers, attorneys, etc.) The girls’ biological mom has more say than anyone else but if she doesn’t come to court that doesn’t help. I can’t give too much detail but suffice it to say, she’s staying with her dad’s friend—where she’s been since she was 2 weeks old—for now. There is a follow up trial in March and we’re planning to express our interest in legal custody through the court’s official process.

So…just one baby for now. I’m relieved to have only one baby but also disappointed that nothing really happened with Trust’s case on Tuesday. We didn’t even get to visit with Ali’s bio family as we had hoped. I did get a photo of the little girls together and it was a blessing to finally see Trust in person. I read this online yesterday and I’m clinging to it: “God is at work in your life right now. He is directing your steps. What you thought was a setback is going to turn out to be a setup.”

Bee is easy to love and I’m happy we can take care of her and meet her needs. We’ve formed a good relationship with her family so far and I know the Lord is using us and that Bee is right where she’s supposed to be for this season. I can hardly explain the ache and longing I feel for Trust, though. I have cared so deeply for her since I knew she existed and we all pray daily for her safety, for her needs to be met and for her to end up in the home where the Lord wants her to grow up. Her story is far from over.