Who are Foster Kids?

08/21/2014

It’s been 7 weeks since Firefly left and I’ve been enjoying the unofficial break from foster care. We’re still on the list but we only got one lonely call while we were on vacation. It’s never far from my mind, though, especially when my phone rings with a number I don’t recognize. I read this great post today called Dear Church, you are called to foster care.

Matthew 25:31-46 is the passage of Scripture that resonates most with me as a foster parent and this post echoes my heart. As foster parents we’ve had opportunities to interact with parents or children in all of these situations. And that’s just the five kids we’ve had the chance to love.

The children in foster care represent the addicted, the imprisoned, the trafficked, the abused and neglected.

They reflect divorce, immigration, single parent homes, and the unemployed.

They carry the stories of parents who are homeless, churchless, widowed and broken.

They are little ones who are weighed with special needs, illiteracy, and teenage pregnancy.

They are not invisible or far away.

Go read the rest of the post here.

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The Sovereignty of God in Foster Care

07/29/2014

I read this article recently and thought you might enjoy it too.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN FOSTER CARE

Here’s a snippet:

Yet, for all that we may be able to provide, God’s ability to be good to her in a difficult environment is far greater than any good we could offer her in a comfortable one. No amount of “good” we can give her can compare with the goodness of the sovereignty of God in her life, wherever she may end up living it. There are no guarantees in foster care, except one – God is sovereign in the life of this baby girl. He is good, and He will be good to her always, no matter where she lays her head at night.

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Two Weeks

07/17/2014

It’s been two weeks and I feel like I should have something really profound to say by now. But I don’t. Little firefly left us on July 3. I happened to have scheduled a vacation day that day. My mom and I took the kids to the zoo in the morning. We got back home for lunch and I tried to soak up every last minute I could with our sweet baby boy. Knowing he was slipping through my fingers, I felt like documenting every moment, trying to stop time. His new baby smell… How I wish I could have bottled it up somehow.

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His belongings ready for his case worker to arrive.

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Ali joined in the documenting.

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I sure do miss the little guy. He was such a blessing to have at our home. I’m really thankful we were able to care for him his first 4 weeks out of the NICU. We worked really hard to feed him his high calorie formula around the clock, keep him healthy and shower him with plenty of love and prayer. It was very hard to let go after being so protective over him but in the end we had no choice but to let go and trust. I’m still praying daily for his health, provision and protection. I will forever love our tiny Firefly boy.

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Adopting From Foster Care – What is it Really Like?

06/23/2014

I read this article recently and thought you might enjoy it too.

Adopting from Foster Care – What is it Really Like?

Here’s a snippet:

Adoption is born of loss. As wonderful and beautiful and amazing as adoption is, it starts with a loss, especially in foster care. A mother and father lost their children. Grandparents lost their grandchildren. Siblings are separated. My children lost countless family members, most of whom they will never see again.

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Two weeks of Firefly

06/19/2014

It doesn’t seem possible but the calendar cannot be denied: it’s been two weeks since little preemie Firefly was delivered to our house. He is a joy and a delight, a bringer of light into our home. He’s steadily gaining weight, sleeping well and staying healthy—that’s all he needs to do right now. He’s eating on a 3-hour schedule. Jason and I have worked out a lovely system where Jason stays up until 2:30am to finish the last feeding and I get up at 5:00am to give him his first bottle of the day. We’re like ships passing in the night but it’s “teamwork at its finest” as my friend Leslie put it. We’re a bit tired but all in all things are going really well at home. I wish I could talk more about his case but of course the details of that are confidential. I’ll say this, he’s secure in our home until the next court date, June 30, for sure. That’s all I know at this point, though we and every DCS worker have opinions and gut feelings on what we think will happen. He’s our fifth placement and I’m amazed at how different each of the cases have been.

Alianna is absolutely loving having baby boy around the house. She’s convinced his name should be Donut. Sometimes she calls him Baby Bwudder. The other day Jason and I were working on a chicken-related project outside. Ali was with us and Firefly was in his crib. Ali slipped back into the house and when we went to find her she was IN his crib with him, just lying next to him and “petting” his head, as she loves to do. She’s on the brink of three-years-old so we’re still having to remind her often to be gentle with his head, not to touch his mouth or try to open his eyes, etc. But, I have to say, she’s being so sweet and mature with him. She’s come along way since November when 6-month-old Bee arrived at our house. (Ali was 2 years, 4 months at the time.) It’s really special to see their bond and I do hope he sticks around for a while. We all love him a lot.

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Firefly

06/10/2014

It’s firefly time of year in Nashville. Every evening as the sun is going down, we finish up our popsicles or ice cream cones and scramble around the yard trying to catch the little lightning bugs to put in our mason jar. I was a summer baby and I’ve always loved summer.

Things have been pretty quiet around here. I just finished up some big deadlines at work and a freelance project that had been on and off for months. On Thursday afternoon when Ali was napping and I was all caught up on work, I stepped out onto the back patio to enjoy a cup of tea. It had been rainy so I stayed close to the backdoor where it was dry and I tossed sliced raw almonds to my silly hens. It was a beautiful, restful moment. I wanted to capture it. Ashley Ann wrote a post a few months ago about drinking coffee (or tea) with two hands, savoring it instead of multitasking. That’s what I was doing.

Right in that moment of peace, my phone rang. It was DCS placement asking if we could take a newborn baby boy who was being released from the hospital that day. Without hesitation, Jason and I said yes. Firefly arrived at our house 90 minutes later. He’s the tiniest little person I’ve ever met, a preemie at just 5 pounds. He is precious and delightful. He smells like Heaven. He sleeps about 23 hours a day. He is by far the easiest foster placement we’ve ever had. We have no idea what the future holds for him and us at this point. I’m savoring him, holding on with both hands, just like that warm cup on a rainy afternoon.

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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.


Buzz Visit at the Mall

02/19/2014

Guess who we saw on Saturday! It is such a gift to be friends with this boy’s mama and to get to watch these two kids playing together again. I told Ali once that Buzz was “kind of like a brother.” She answered, “A brother and a friend.”

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Also, this kid has grown so much! I knelt down to give him a hug and I had to half-stand back up. He’s out of the toddler sizes already and he’s not quite 3.5.


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.