Thursday, October 12, 2017

What's it like to be a foster parent?

Early this year we started this adventure full of unknown things to us and our friends.   A lot of our friends have started asking what's it like?  Are we glad we're doing it?  Would we be willing to adopt?  Or they've said I've always wanted to foster but I'm worried about X, Y, & Z.  So I thought maybe I'd write a bit about our experience so far.

1.  The very first thing I learned was expect the unexpected.  Things you never even dream of happening will probably happen.

2.  I didn't know just how many appointments one boy could have in a week.  It's a bit insane (This week in four days he had six appointments), but it's all necessary.  This boys whole life from living with us, to his interactions with his parents, to his medical needs are all being noted by many, many people.  It's all to decide the best place for his forever home to be, with his parents, with family, or with us.  They all have different perspectives so when all is said and done the judge will have a well rounded idea of what this boys life is like and what it is going to look like in the future.

3.  I'm in LOVE.  This is not a long term babysitting thing with a kid I like.  I mean love as in it's just as if I birthed him myself kind of love.  With that love comes a whole lot of emotion.  The grief of one day giving him back to his parents and the joy of seeing a family reconnected.  The excitement of watching him reach his milestone and grow into a healthy boy.  To the pain of watching him battle the hardships he has now, because every single child in foster care has battles they have to fight.

4.  Yes I would adopt.  I would have adopted him the moment I laid eyes on him.  I knew signing on as a foster parent the goal is reunification.  Until a judge says that's not possible that's the goal I will work towards.  What I didn't know was just how quickly I'd fall in love or how different I see life to that of his parents.

5.  I don't worry about my boys hearts being crushed.  I know when we say goodbye that it will be a deep loss to us all.  However, I want my boys to have hearts that can love unconditionally.  I want them to love others expecting nothing in return.  What better way to learn that for all of us then opening up our home, loving a helpless child just like he is ours until it's safe and right for him to go back with his parents.  What better way to work through the pain of our loss while we celebrate the baby's joy of being reunited with his family.

6.  Yes it's weird to constantly have the government in my house.  I have rules I have to follow not only in how I take care of him but my big boys as well.  For example the kids are not allowed to sleep in our bed.  So if our big boys have a bad dream in the middle of the night we can't let them curl up beside us, instead they have to go back to there own beds.  When we were going through our classes Strong man and I talked about our parenting style differences to that of the state and decided while we didn't agree with some of the rules we could follow them because in the big picture sending the boys back to bed isn't really a big deal, but letting a homeless child live with us is.

7.  Will we do it again?  That is the big question.  While we love what we are doing we think for now, at least through the new year, we're happy with just one child.  Honestly with homeschooling the big boys I'm not sure I have enough time to teach, do the normal appointments and the after school activities my big boys have, do all of the baby's appointments and then do all of the same appointments for another child.  I'm just not sure if I have enough time in my life to add another.  Time will tell for us.

8.  No our kids are not losing anything by us doing this.  Yes the boys are learning to wait because a crying baby wins over me seeing a tower they built, but the boys know as soon as I'm able they will get to show it off to me.  Yes there are times when the baby has been at a parent visit that the big ones and I have gone out for ice cream so we could have a bit of time just the three of us.  Over all they love helping with the babe.  They got as excited as I did about hearing his first laugh.  They enjoy being asked to help make bottles.  They love it when I take a shower and tell them to keep and ear out for the sleeping baby.  They feel like they have more responsibility and are being treated more like adults. They lay on the floor and play with him when he's on his mat.  They beg to hold him.  Sometimes I swear they wake him up just so they can see his smile.  My boys have only gained from this experience.

9.  How will we say goodbye?  I don't know, I'll let you know when the day comes.  As I said before we knew the goal was reunification when we started this journey.  Honestly I hope that even when he goes back to his parents we can stay involved in his life.  I hope they call when they need a sitter or invite us to birthday parties.  He may forget me, but I will always count him as one of mine.

10.  Do we recommend it?  I think if you love being parent, have the space and time, then yes.  However, I think everybody should research the different kinds abuse these kids go through.  Then set very clear guidelines for yourself about the kind of kids you'll take in.  For example we said infants only for our first one and we had a specific kind of abuse that we had spent weeks learning about so we could take care of him.  For our next I'm leaning towards one a bit older.  Honestly I don't know if I could handle children who have been physically abused.  I don't know how to deal with random violent outbreaks of hurting other children, themselves or breaking things.  Until I have time to learn more about parenting a child that's gone through that kind of trauma I've said no to physical abuse.  I've also said no to kids in my big boys age range.  We don't ever want the kids competing with each other.  We want to celebrate everybody's wins as there own.  So we've decided the kids that come in have to be in a different stage of life.  All the wins they have will be there very own wins that we can celebrate with them for all of the kids in our house, Bios and fosters.

Friday, September 29, 2017

To my soul mate,

11 years ago today I agreed to be your bride.  It was simple, well thought out and spontaneous all at the same time.  I love our story, but this year instead of writing you about the amazing memories we have had together I wanted to simply say thank you.

10 years ago we were sitting at a local Pizza Hut staring at the wall of foster kids that needed a home.  You suggested we become foster parents.  I said no.  In fact you've mentioned it often over the years and I've always said no.  That is until last November when our sweet Man of the woods suggested that since I was a good Mom and you were a good Dad and some kids needed good parents that I let them live with us.  That conversation turned into nine months later me nesting as I waited for my first call about a child that needed a home.  Two months after that call came in I'm in love with our sweet little Baby.  He's perfect.  Watching him heal and grow into a strong infant.  Seeing his first smile and hearing him coo for the first time.  Praying over his soul and situation in the darkness of night.  I love what I do.  I feel full and complete something I haven't felt in a long time.  I think most of that goes to you.

Thank you for never letting go of that dream even though it took me 10 years to climb on board.
Thank you for loving him just like he was one of ours.
Thank you for sharing the long nights with me.
Thank you for the evenings you tell me to get out allowing me to dress like an adult and to have conversations without swaying back and forth while I make faces at the babe.
Thank you for teaching our boys to love unconditionally even though someday soon we may get a phone call saying it's time to say goodbye.
Thank you for wanting to go on new adventures with me.
Thank you for letting me cry on the phone while you work because it's just been a hard day as a mother.
Thank you for hugging me through all the emotion that comes with fostering.
Thank you for arranging date nights with me.
Thank you for working hard every single day so we have a stable life and love others.
Thank you for praying for the hearts and minds of all three of our boys.
Thank you for standing by your commitment to love me no matter what.
Thank you for asking me to marry you.

You are my best friend, my soul mate.  I love living life with you and going on crazy adventures together.  I love you more today then the day I said yes.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Some days it is hard to be a Mom

Normally I'm all over how I love to do this and that with my boys.  I post the funny things they say or do.  I take frustrating situations and turn them in #Mommaofboy moments.  I usually am able to smile through the challenges of mothering.  In fact I usually love the challenges of mother.  I really enjoy homeschooling my boys.  I enjoy watching them learn and grow.  I have fun researching and ordering the programs they will use each year.  I absolutely love watching them go from not knowing at the beginning of the year to fully grasping a concept at the end of the year.  I love going on scouting adventures with them, even when it means I wake up to a bat in my cabin or that I have to pull a tick off of one of them.  I adore the dirty little feet that walk through my house every day and I laugh at how accomplished they feel with every "battle wound" they get from rough housing.  I don't mind that they climb trees.  I feel pride when they ask Dad if they can go stack wood for the winter.

I love being a Mom.

But some days are hard.  The days when all three of them are crying at the same time.  One because I insist he does his grammar lesson, another because he's been "trying" to do his math for over an hour and I won't let him skip the rest of the page.  The third because I'm not super women and wasn't able to make his bottle fast enough.  The days where you go to pay your oil bill over the phone and realize as the kind lady says hello you have no idea where your debit card is.  Or when it's a billion degrees out and the AC is broken in your car but you go out anyway just to be stood up.  Or the days when you get pooped on and spit up on while trying to teach.  Or the days when the easiest way to pee "in peace" is to strap the baby to you and go together.  Or the days when a missing library book sends you to tears.  Every single one of these things happened to me today.

Honestly as the day ends I don't have any fixes or perfect endings or moral to the story.  Some days are just hard.  Some hard days are needed.  I know that and I love them for what they are.  In a day or two I'll be telling my funny little story about that time all four of us had a bad day on the same day and how we survived it.  This is  motherhood.  Motherhood is my pride and joy.  I'll take the good with the bad if it means I get to be a Momma to these three boys.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Learning to be Momma to this one

I had been officially licensed for one month when I walked into the hospital room with an empty car seat.  I had no idea what I would find.  I had talked with his placement worker the night before over a fuzzy connection as I stood in the middle of the woods at Cub Scout camp.  We talked for maybe ten minutes.  She answered any question she could, but the truth is she didn't know too much.  Even so I said I'd pick him up the next morning, just after a pit stop at home for a shower.

I stopped just in front of his room.  The door was open just a crack with the lights off on the other side.  I looked up and down the hallway expecting somebody to greet me, but there was nobody around.  Taking a deep breath I slowly pushed open his door and walked through.  He was to my right swaddled and sleeping.  He was the tiniest baby I had ever met.  To my left was his health board saying he needed to be left in his crib to sleep leaving me to sit in the rocking chair quietly beside him.  After a few minutes but what felt like hours a curly haired, smiling nurse introduced herself and told me I could pick him up.  It was six hours of learning how to care for him before she sent us home.

The blanket he came home from the hospital with.

Three weeks later I found myself in the same hospital with two big boys and very sick baby boy.  He had been throwing up for the last 24 hours.  The weight he had lost proved my instincts were right, nothing was staying down.  After an X-ray and a ultrasound it was agreed that the hospital would be our home for the next few days.  Strong man picked up the big ones and I made up my bed on a cot.  The waiting, worrying, and fighting of a Momma began.

Trying to read a book while I waited to meet with the doctors.

The waiting...
... Test still being done at 11 pm Friday night.
... Pacing our room while I waited for them to come back from putting his IV in.
... For morning to come while I held him each time he vomited so I could talk with the doctors.

More tests

The worrying...
... As his throwing up became so scheduled and regular I could catch it saving him a change of clothes.
... As the surgeon never came to see us simply looking over his charts, making choices I disagreed with.
... Sitting in the waiting room while he was finally in surgery.

Going to surgery

The fighting...
... With doctors to move his surgery up a few days.

My boys were birthed to me whatever comes our way is all part of parenthood.  This boy is different.  This time I went to classes and made my house ready for inspections.  For this boy I got a phone call asking if I was willing to take him as my own for a few months.  I chose him and everything that comes with him.  It may only be for a time that I get to be his Momma because he could go home with a single phone call, but after this weekend I have no doubt that there is no end to the depths of love I have for this guy.

We love, because He first loved us.
~ John, friend of Jesus

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love unconditional

Dear Baby K,

Man of the woods birthed me into motherhood every day for the last nine years.  Laughter has taught me to live life with an open hand.  You are teaching me to love like I've never known love before.

Seven days ago at about this time I was laying eyes on you for the first time.  You lay asleep even if it wasn't peaceful you slept just the same.  I sat in the dark room learning as much as I could about you, realizing that no matter how many people I talked to I still wouldn't know you like I did my older two, but I was determined to do my best.  You came home and quietly slept while I checked on you often.  It didn't take long for me to learn that if you fell asleep while drinking your bottle you needed to burp.  Or that you would always choose cuddles over eating so I sometimes needed to hold you in my lap facing me if I wanted you to eat.  I quickly learned that you sleep through most everything as long as you feel snug in a swaddle.  I know you prefer a bassinet to a crib.  You don't seem to need to rock like my other boys did.  You are you're own person.  You and I we're getting to know each other.  Last night when I came home from work you were happy to see me.  You have taken my heart.

I don't have words to articulate the love I feel towards you.  I know that someday in the months to come you and I will part ways.  On that day my soul will ache and my tears will flow for you.  For now I wake with you every few hours and tell you it's all going to be alright when you cry because of a gas bubble.  I change every dirty diaper with a happy heart because it's what you need, it's what a Momma does and it's what love is.  This love you are teaching me is an example of God's love for man kind.  The way he created a perfect world, loving us enough to give us free will, the ability to reject Him.  It's a beautiful thing, a precious gift actually.  He knew we would walk away and still He loved us.  You won't be rejecting me, but you will be leaving me.  Yet I am compelled to love you with all of myself knowing that my heart will soon break.

I'm thankful for the way you are reshaping me into a better person.  My hope for you is that no matter what you will always know you are loved.  Thank you for teaching me to love with my whole self sweet boy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I'm compelled, I can't help it.


You need to know some things about me.  I never imagined having kids and if I did I never imagined I would find joy in being a mother.  I never imagined that I would have a dream job and resign so I could be a stay at home mother.  I never ever imagined I would be willing to foster somebody else's children.  All these big life changing things I never imagined that now bring me unexpected fulfillment.  I do find joy in mothering and I do love being at home with you guys.  I am beyond excited to love children that need to be loved for a time.

In recent years I have gone back to the basics as I read my Bible searching for what religion means to God.  I've found that what He wants most is for us to take care of other people.  James says straight up that pure religion is to visit the orphans and widows (James 1:27).  Jesus says that feeding the hungry is just like we are taking care of him personally (Matthew 25:40).  Isaiah says if you want God to hear you then give yourself to the hungry and help the afflicted (Isaiah 58:9-10).

In the past I had gotten so caught up in the programs and the events and the people right in front of me I forgot to find the hungry and the hurting.  I didn't see the afflicted and if I did I couldn't make time for them because I already had a group of people.  But now I have time.  Now I feel the urgency to help.  I'm compelled to do this.  I'm called.

I'm old enough now to know that it's the unimaginable that brings me the most joy.  It's not the dreams I have that give me a full life it's the journey to knowing God more deeply that brings the joy.  Now as I have spent time reading and time reflecting on life I'm ready to welcome a foster baby into my arms, to love like my own for as long as she will need it.  I'm ready to take the risk of saying goodbye and giving her back to the very people she was taken from.  I'm ready to teach her what love is, that's it's unconditional. I'm ready for long nights and blurry eyed days.  I'm ready for appointments and dirty diapers.  I'm ready to feed the afflicted and visit the poor.

Boys, as you grow I hope that above all else you follow God.  I hope that you say no to your dreams and yes to His calling.  May you find joy in all the adventures you never imagined.  I beg you to say yes to what is pure and what is true.  You've got a good start with this journey of fostering.  We decided this as a family.  You are as open to the hurt as we are.

I love the men you are growing to be and I know you'll be excellent big brothers.  I'm excited to walk this road with you.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017


To the one who birthed me into motherhood and has held my heart close for the last nine years, I adore you.  Over these last few weeks we've been on an adventure of a lifetime, discovering the land of our ancestors, the land of the rising sun.  I've marveled at how much of a man you are becoming.  You are after all half way to 18, half grown, but sometimes I forget that your hands are almost as big as mine.  On this trip you wouldn't let me forget.  You were respectful always and thought constantly about other people.  It made me smile, seeing you pay attention to the details, even in such a strange place, remembering what you've been taught.  I love that about you, how detailed you are.

You asked to go to the zoo and so we did.  It was a very fun day.

You are named Man of the Woods and live up to that name so well.  We were in Japan at the busiest time of year for them during the 'Golden Week', an entire week of holidays.  We saw the Imperial Palace, and giant statues of Buddha, we went up to the top of the tallest tower in the world, we saw kites that were the size of a standard room, but your favorite part of the whole trip was the few hours we spent at the Pacific Ocean.  It's the natural and the simple that bring you the most joy.  I hope you never grown out of that.

At the Pacific Ocean.

Over the last 12 days I got to glimpse the man you are becoming.  You walked like a man, never needing to hold my hand.  Even though the places we visited were shoulder to shoulder packed, you never needed the security of it.  You ate everything I put on your plate and asked to try what wasn't initially offered to you.  You remembered all your manners.  I realized that, in our small town, it's good to always expect you to let grown ups go first, but when in a busy train station, I needed to let you know it was okay to cut in front of them sometimes.  I'm proud of the glimpse I saw.  You're going to be a good man full of respect for others.

You are a pro with chopsticks.  Every meal we used them and you conquered them.

This coming year you are going to enter the fourth grade and I suspect will continue to do Cub Scouts.  I bet you'll keep fiddling around with your uke making music just for fun. Lego's will be your favorite past time as they have been this year.  As you're Momma I'll pray that you keep making good choices.  I'll focus on teaching you more of the why it's important to do what's right.  We'll keep plugging away at your reading skills and you'll keep blowing my mind with your math smarts.

My prayer for you this year is this: May you stay strong and learn to focus especially on the things that bore you such as school work.  May you use the knowledge you have in a wise way.  May you always put others first for the sake of love.  May you continue to be your unique self, loving life to it's fullest and constantly wanting to learn.

You are proud of this photo you took of Mount Fuji.  It's the one photo you insist everybody sees.

I love you more than life.  There are no words to tell you how proud I am of the man you are becoming. Here's an interview with your nine year old self.

What is your favorite color? Dark Blue
What is something very special to you? God
What is your favorite word or saying? "Guess what, in Minecraft..."
What is your favorite thing to do? Climb, run, and play outside.
What is your favorite memory from this past year? Japan, all of it.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I don't know