The End of An Era: Closing Our Home to Foster Care

04/27/2016

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For the past five years I’ve been a foster mom. We started our classes in early 2011, were approved and took our first placement in July 2011. For five years, a significant part of my identity has been wrapped in the label of foster mom. It feels strange to peel that label off.

Our goal with foster care was to love kids in need, to be their parents for as long as we were needed to fill that gap, and perhaps to adopt someday. Our journey has been a success. If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you probably know all about our experience but five years is a long time to keep track of so here’s a brief run down:

July 2011 – First placement 16-month-old “Ladybug” was with us for 5 weeks and then exited custody to an extended family member. Whirlwind first parenting experience!

September 2011 – Second placement was 2-month-old Alianna. Found out a few days later she would be an adoptive placement. A month or two later DCS decided to move her to a friend of the adoptive mom of two of her four half-siblings. We fought it. Hard. And won, by a miracle! We were given custody by a judge in order to pursue private adoption.

February 2012 – Put our home on hold to new placements while we prepared to sell our house, move in with my parents temporarily and build a new home.

August 2012 – Finalized Alianna’s adoption just after her 1st birthday.

February 2013 – Once settled into our new home, we took our home off hold status so we could start fostering again.

May 2013 – Third placement was 2.5-year-old Termain. He lived with us for 3 months, through the summer of 2013 and then was reunited with his mom. Through our experience his mom became a dear friend and I’m so thankful they are still in our lives.

November 2013 – Fourth placement was 6-month-old “Bee.” Technically placed with us for 3 months, although she spent 30 days in the middle of that period doing an extended family visit with relatives in another state. In February 2014, her ICPC passed and she was transferred to another state as a kinship placement with extended family.

June 2014 – Fifth placement was teenie preemie “Firefly.” He was 3 weeks old, brought to our home straight from the NICU. He was less than 5 lbs. and still several weeks before his due date. He was with us for four weeks before his case was dismissed and he was returned to his parents. The following month, I found out that I was pregnant with Isaiah.

October 2014 – Sixth and final placement was 1-month-old Noah (who now has a new name). He was with us only 3 days but his sweetness anchored deep in my hormonal-pregnant-mama-heart. He left custody to an adoptive placement who has since reached out and reconnected with us. We’ve had the privilege of keeping in touch and getting together with them.

April 2015 – Put our home back on hold status as we prepared for Isaiah’s birth. We planned to reopen within a year.

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Which brings us to today…

April 2016 – We had planned to be on hold just for 9-12 months and then start taking placements but I got pregnant again pretty quickly after Isaiah’s birth. Going from two kids to three in short period is one thing. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with the idea of three. But four kids still seems really hard to imagine. Our agency will only allow us to be on hold for 2 years. In April 2017 Ali will be 5, Isaiah will be turning 2 and Josephine will be 10 months old… I don’t think we’ll be ready to start fostering by then either, so we decided it was time to close up officially. It’s a bittersweet decision.

Bitter because it’s a cause we are passionate about. The need is great. It’s hard to walk away knowing there are still so many kids that need safe homes to go to in our city, right at this moment. And, honestly, it’s hard to step out of the label, the role, the identity of foster mom that I’ve worn proudly for the past five years.

Sweet because I’m so honored that we’ve had the opportunity to bless six children who needed safe mama- and daddy-arms to hold them through a really traumatic time in their lives. I am blessed by the friendships we’ve made through fostering…with biological family of the kids, with other adoptive parents, with other foster parents. The biggest blessing from our experience, of course, is our forever daughter Alianna.

Closing our home brings a wave of relief. For five years our lives have been in a state of temporary. It was hard to plan ahead more than a few months, never knowing how many family members we would have and what ages of kids we would be parenting at any given time. We’ve had bedrooms with gender neutral flexible set ups. Now, we can finally feel settled with some permanency in our family and our home. I can say with confidence that later this year we will have three kids, no more and no less. I know what their ages will be and that they will all share our last name. We will be allowed to leave the state without asking for permission. We won’t have regular home visits with a case worker anymore. We won’t have classes and credit hours to keep up with annually. We can even get rid of our home phone that we never used for anything anyway. It’s a new kind of freedom.

Foster parenting will forever have a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t doubt if we do it again in another season of our lives. In the meantime, we can stay involved in other ways. We are signed up to be mentors to new foster parents in our county. I plan to continue supporting and encouraging the many friends I’ve made through #fostercare on Instagram, many of whom are still in the trenches as foster moms. I’m considering becoming a CASA or a member of our county’s foster care review board someday.

I’ve gotten away from blogging over the past year but my heart is aching to write again. I’m looking at my life from a different angle now. For a while it seemed that foster care was the only exciting topic in my life to write about but I’ve realized there is a lot more going on besides that. This blog originally started out with a focus on mid-century-modern style, furniture, homes, living, etc. with an emphasis on home projects. As we because foster parents, my focus shifted. I’m planning to return to more blogging about home projects, modern/mid-century-modern furnishing/architecture/homes, interior design mixed in with parenting, adoption, graphic design, craft projects and one of our newest endeavors: homeschooling.

How does that sound? (Is there anyone still out there, reading this blog and this super-long post? Chirp. Chirp.) What do you prefer to see posts about here?

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Home Tour: Living Room

01/14/2015

Our living room has changed a bit since February 2013 when I originally did a photo tour.

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Sources:

Sectional Sofa – IKEA Karlstad
End Table – vintage from Jason’s grandmother
Arm Chair – yard sale find, reupholstered by us
Pillows, Throw blankets – Target
Coffee Table, Lamp, Wall Birds, Clocks – vintage from estate sales and antique stores
Lamp Shade – made by us
Rug – overstock.com
Painting – gallerydirect.com
Bookshelf – IKEA

If I missed anything you’re curious about, feel free to ask.

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Christmastime is Here

12/23/2014

The tree has been trimmed. The lights have been strung. The cookies have been baked…and many of them eaten. Christmas is my favorite thing about winter. The warm glowing lights. The crackling wood in the fireplace. The cozy clutter of decorations. The family time. The advent…the waiting…the anticipation. (Increased this year by the gift of discovering our baby’s gender on Christmas Day.) The dressing up in red, knit and boots. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that it meant when God came to walk the earth in human form. (Increased this year by the kicking baby in my belly reminding me often of Mary, young and scared, carrying the most important baby in the world.) The excitement of a small child over every element of the holiday season.

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Home Tour: Alianna’s Room

10/29/2014

Alianna’s room has made the full transition from a nursery to a big girl room. In the past couple weeks we moved the twin IKEA Kura bed into her room. Eventually we’ll flip it over so she can have a low loft bed, which I know she’ll love. For now, she has no idea it does that. She does LOVE to hang and swing off the bar at the end of the bed. With the addition of the bed, I swapped her nightstand out with the IKEA Ribba book ledges we’ve had for years. They’re positioned to work with the bed in either position. We’re all loving the new bed and she’s only fallen out once – yay! Her old dresser was a vintage find from a local antique store and was perfect size and height to use as a changing table. With baby Froggie on the way and since I took away Ali’s two drawer nightstand, it was time to get her a taller dresser. I went with the unfinished wood IKEA Tarva so I could customize the look for less money. I ended up building the whole thing myself (though Ali helped me with the drawers!) and doing all the painting and staining myself too. Usually when we do home projects Jason takes the lead. He’s more experienced and much more detail-oriented than me. He’s in a busy work season, though, so I’m pretty proud of myself for how this turned out. Ali was not crazy about the idea of a new dresser until the day she helped me build the drawers. Now that she’s personally invested, she’s very excited about it. In the upgrades to her room we also added a real curtain rod. When we moved in we bought a cheap tension rod to be used temporarily and almost two years later it kept falling down when she’d try to open the curtains. This room continues to be one of my favorites in our house.

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A few months ago I wrote about her Lottie dollhouse and the Barbie furniture my granny name for me.

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I bought a small digital clock to fit on her shallow shelves and it happened to have colored numbers. It’s actually been quite helpful in teaching her to read the time. We used to use a timer and light for “OK to come out of your room now” but we’ve been using a digital clock now that she can easily recognize numbers. With this clock it’s even easier to say, “You can get out of your bed when you see the green 8.”

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I love all the special touches: this name banner made by a friend after her adoption, the flower was an adoption day gift from another friend, the crocheted owl blanket was a gift from her Nana for her 3rd birthday.

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Here’s a before picture of the Tarva dresser, straight from the IKEA website.

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And after paint and stain.

 

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11th Anniversary Squirrel Buster

06/26/2014

We celebrated BIG last anniversary with a trip to Naples and Key West for 10 days, including snorkeling in a coral reef—the highlight of the trip. Father’s Day, our anniversary, my (30th!) birthday all fall within 5 days of each other. Combine that with newborn baby induced sleep-depravation and schedule-juggling and… This year I ordered a bird feeder. To celebrate our 11 years of blissful matrimony, we have a Brome 1015 Squirrel Buster Classic hanging outside our living room window. (Using this bracket.) It really is a gift to both of us, our whole family, as we’ve already been seeing lots of birds frequenting the feeder and we can see it from the dining room table and from the living room (where I’ve been sitting a lot to feed Firefly.)

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It’s pretty cool how this works. It has a spring mechanism that closes up all the feed openings if a squirrel-weight animal clings to it. But for bird-weight animals, there are several openings for seeds. The birds are dropping a lot on the ground, though, so the squirrels are still happy.

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Courtyard Deck and Built-in Bench

06/25/2014

I gave a little sneak peek of this project on Friday. Jason recently constructed this bench and deck into our courtyard. This is the main entrance into our home, a private garden space that’s secluded from the street and neighbors. It’s a lovely space to sit and it just got better! We still need to add some cushions but we’re enjoying it already.

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Real Life

03/27/2014

In an effort to keep up with writing more frequently, here’s a really random post. I’m practicing with my wide-angle lens on my DSLR and photoshop settings as I’m starting to get into real estate photography. Practicing with my own house was the obvious choice. The living room was pretty tidy but I made no effort to clean up the other rooms. I’ll spare you from Ali’s bathroom and our bedroom. Here’s a little real life peek into my house:

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