Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ramblings of a Foster mom...this is L-O-N-G!

I have been so behind on blogging, and honestly it's partly because I don't want to share too much on here, and partly because I don't even know where to start. We just had our 7th foster child go back home this past week and it doesn't get any easier saying goodbye. I decided I needed just to sit down and keep a little trail of all of our foster kids, because I still think and pray for them daily ALL of them and because they were/are part of our family.

Abigail- (May to present)Well we all know we got her in May, and hopefully I can share A LOT more very soon. I am keeping her under wraps for a little while longer :).

Boy N: (4 days)We got a phone call shortly after we were placed with Abbie asking us if we would do respite care for a little boy. His foster parents were going out of town for 4 days and they needed a home for him in the meantime. I was VERY nervous about taking a foster child. I know we were liscensed foster parents but we really only became foster parents because we wanted to adopt, and now that we had Abbie why foster? Well thankfully the Lord pushed us to say Yes! This little boy started it all for us. I picked him up from the office and he was extremly shy. The only reason he came to me was because I had a box full of goldfish, and apple juice. (I learned from then on to ALWAYS bring food, I have never had trouble picking up children because they are all hungry and will go to whoever will feed them!) He immediately stole my heart. He was the cutest blonde hair blue eyed boy and just had the cutest belly laugh. I fell head over heels for him and was dying to know his story. I literally saw our family complete with him and I wanted to keep him forever!

Sadly 4 days later I cried on the ride over to give him back and prayed for him. He smiled the whole time. As soon as I saw his foster family he held onto me tight and I did the same. You could tell he was VERY well taken care of and loved, just a little unsure of what was going on. I said goodbye, and from that day on my love/passion for fostering arose. A few weeks later I found out that N was actually going to be coming up for adoption and our worker had "us" in her mind for getting him if family didn't step forward. I was SO excited, we waited a few months, and then learned his grandparents came forward to adopt him. I was a little dissapointed but I had such a peace about it. I always love when kids can go home to family members, they deserve that. We never saw him again, but I think of him often and how he changed our hearts and minds about this crazy system.

Girl Y and Boy Z: (2 days)This story is just downright INSANE! We already had Abigail and were only approved for 1 more. I got a phone call around 7:00 PM asking us if we would take a 1 year old girl and 6 month boy. They were in desperate need for a house and the supervisor approved us for taking an extra. They were from a country I'm not naming because I don't want to die. (hint hint) Evidently the parents didn't realize that you can't leave your kids alone at home all day while you're gone. It's a cultural thing. Anywho...We said, why not? We're crazy and 4 kids ages 3,2,1, and 6 months sound completely logical. I was also keeping the twins so why not 6??

Well I picked them up from a Bojangles, and both kids were SCREAMING! Did I mention it was 11:30 PM by now? I asked the DSS worker what their names were and he said, "Honestly? I don't know, here are their passports and there are so many letters in their names I have no idea how to pronounce it." They were literally KhahaKihdmckdis IKdhdhd and KDhdhididi LKSIsks. NO LIE. So I was saying don't cry little girl, don't cry little boy, rocking them to sleep and trying to laugh instead of cry myself. Ya'll I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! They were TERRIFIED of us, you could tell they were just completely out of their elements. Of course they knew nothing of the English language and we were some crazy people who took them from their parents. Thankfully I got a phone call that they had explained over and over to their parents not to leave them alone, and that they agreed they could go back to them the next day. I was so thankful!! We quickly added - must speak/know english to our list of specifications. Lesson learned!

C: (7 weeks)I got a call for a 3 year old boy, when we started this fostering journey I read/heard that it is VERY hard to take kids that are older than your oldest child. We both agreed we would only take 3 years old and younger. Well when we got this call we were told he had just turned 3. When I picked him up I learned he actually was almost 5. This boy had come from EXTREME abuse, you name it, it had happened to him. He was an emotional wreck understandably. He would put himself in time-out for accidental things, for example, he tripped and spilled a DROP of water he would run to time-out and tell me he was bad. He would CONSTANTLY say "I can't have that", "You don't feed me", "Are you going to hit me?" and on and on and on. It was the most emotionally exhausting 6 weeks of our lives. Hearing him tell us stories of things that happened to him took a big tole on us. In addition to all of this, Ryder and C did NOT get a long. It wasn't like fist fighting but it was just constant bickering and it got to a point where Ryder didn't want to sleep in his room. (They shared a room).

First and foremost our family comes first. We feel an extremely strong calling from God to foster and have stepped out in faith to do this. But we also are very aware of our boundaries and are learning as we go. After having C for almost 7 weeks, we had to re-group and set up new boundaries of what worked and what didn't for US.( I know everyone/family is different I'm not saying our way is the right way but this is what was best for us) We know that most children come VERY emotionally/physically hurt and every single one of our children have had issues, some bigger than others,but this age was just too much for us. We  figured out that we do better with younger children. To have to hear all of these stories were so draining, I can't even express the things this poor child went through. It was devestating. We also agreed not to take any more children that are older than Ryder.  This Fostering life is a work in progress. It is the most rewarding thing we have ever done and by far the hardest. And don't get me wrong we LOVED C and gave him all of the love we could. They even asked me if I believed he should go back to his parents and I told them absolutely not. I would have kept him as long as I needed to, to keep him safe. They chose to send him back and I never heard from him or his family again. 

Baby L: (8 weeks)It was a Tuesday, and I was sitting on the floor working with Abbie's therapist and got a phone call from DSS. It was for a 4 WEEK OLD BABY! I immediately said, "OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES" and then held up the 4 fingers at Eric and he nodded that it was ok. She then told me he was still in the hospital. He was born 8 weeks premature and was only currently 4 pounds. He was on a heart monitor and we would need to come down to the hospital for 6 hours of training, and then to stay overnight. I told her I would work out the details and that we would definetly take him. I immediately got off the phone and started jumping up and down saying, "A baby! A baby! A baby!!!!". Eric stands up from the couch and says, "A baby???!!!" I said, "Uh yea, I held up 4, he's 4 weeks old". Eric's mouth hit the floor and he said, " I THOUGHT YOU MEANT 4 YEARS OLD!". After I had a good laugh and picked him up off the floor we started getting our house ready for a newborn. 

When we got to the hospital we were met by the hospital's social worker and they asked if we would be willing to meet the birthparents. At this point, we had no idea why this child was being taken into care. I should add we have had children whose parents have seriously injured people, abused children, neglected them, drug use, theft etc. We had never and really don't want to meet the parents. The only reason we would want to is of course adoption, or if it is a mild case. It is a safety issue for our family. If it is every necessary we will, or if it is in the best interest of the child and our family we would, but not knowing why we were even taking this child, that was off the table. We told the worker absolutely not and proceeded to continue training. A few minutes later the mom had called back and said, that her lawyer said she had the right to meet us. I immediately said and we have the right to say no. SO no. Feeling frustrated at this point and a little nervous with us being in the same hospital, I just gave Eric a look like OMG! Then of course the phone went off another minute later. This time she asked if we would just stand in the hall so she could "look" at us. UMMM NOOO! Listen, I get that I would want to know who my child/ren were going to, but the whole point of us saying no was because we didn't want them knowing who we were. 

When we walked downstairs after training to meet him and get set up for the night the nurses met us at the locked door and quickly ushered us in. They told us the parents were outside the door. They had told them to leave, but they wouldn't leave the lobby. We had to make up code-names to be called back so we wouldn't use their childs name. Shortly after I got settled Eric left to go get the kids and stay with them at home that night. Not long after he was gone, the security came into our room and said that they were nervous the father would run through the doors if they opened for someone else and go straight to the room we were in, so they moved us to a new room. Ya'll I was scared out of my MIND! I called my SIL Amanda and she came and stayed with me a few hours. Security was amazing and escorted us in and out while we came and went those 2 days. It was just straight up scary. They even had me go out an employee elevator and down through the parking garage while the baby was completely covered so they wouldn't know who had their child. 

Once we got home and got into the routine of having a newborn again (WITHOUT maternity leave!) I was just in heaven. I LOVED every minute with that sweet sweet baby. The kids were in heaven and I have never seen Ryder so helpful before. Abigail was such a sweet Mommy and helped me feed and dress him all the time. He went from 4 pounds 6 ounces to over 7 pounds in the 2 months we had him. I knew the grandparents were trying to get him and the day the grandma came to pick him up I was at peace. Of course I cried saying goodbye like I always do, but she was so sweet. She e-mailed me when they got home and said thanked us for everything we had done for him and she was so thankful he was with us. That made me so happy. In this line of work, you don't get many thank-you's. In fact I ended up eventually meeting baby L's mom because I was the only one trained on the heart monitor and so I had to sit in on a visitation with her. The whole time she just kept saying, "I'm going to get you back, I can't believe they would take you from me, you should be home with me." It would have been nice to hear thank you for taking care of my child and waking up every 3 hours to feed him in the middle of the night. It's sad that to most of these parents we are only a negative side effect to DSS. They only see us as having the child that (most) of them want. 

I still keep in touch with Baby L's grandma and he is doing amazing. They are fighting for custody of him and almost 4 months later he is 10 POUNDS! Its just so awesome when the kids you love and nurture go back to loving homes. 

LittleMan K:(7 weeks) Not even a week after baby L had gone, we got a phone call for a 2 year old boy. We told them we were sorry but we were going out of town that weekend to Nashville, TN for Thanksgiving and just wanted a little break. They reluctantly said ok. About 4 hours later I got a call, again asking if we would take him. They couldn't find a home and he was going to have to go to the local group home/orphanage.( I HATE when they say that! I HATE HATE HATE kids to have to go there)So, I said I was willing but I'd have to call Eric and see how he felt about it. I called Eric and he said, "UGH go get him". So I drove down to the office and picked up the cutest 2 year old boy EVER. He wouldn't talk and they told me he was really shy and didn't talk. Well by the end of the night we had him belly laughing and talking in SENTENCES! He was only 2, like JUST 2! I immediately fell in love (once again) with this little boy. He was so cute. Everynight when we would put him to bed, he would hold out his hands and say, "Hug and kiss mommy, hug and kiss." This boy melted my heart! I was given word that he had been raised by his grandparents and that it was a freak thing that he was taken with his siblings. He just happend to not be at the grandparents house when they came to get the other children. The grandparents were devestated, and I knew he had been well taken care of. He didn't have any major emotional/physical abuse that was noticeable to us. We had always been able to tell almost immediately with the other children. When the guardian ad litem came to our house we even told her we would love to adopt him if things didn't work out with the grandparents. 

I was told about 3 weeks in that they would be going to the grandparents but not for a few more months. You can imagine my surprise a month later, when I got a phone call saying please bring him in 2 hours there was an emergency court hearing and he is going to his grandparents. In my heart I was overjoyed for him. I knew they loved him and would take care of him but this shock caught my heart completly off guard. I immediately started balling. Like uncontrollably crying. I loved this little boy and with just a 2 hour notice I was to pack up boxes and boxes and give him back. I cried and laughed with him while we packed him up and I put a note in his bookbag with our phone number on it and a picture of our family for him. Eric just kept saying, "Alisha, this is what we do, it's ok". I knew I should be used to doing this, after all he was our 7th foster child and our 6th goodbye, but man was it hard.

When I walked into the DSS office with Eric I saw someone wave at us and I knew it was his grandparents. I smiled and walked him over to see them. He held me tight and wouldn't talk to them at first. He had no idea what was going on. The grandma immediately said she could never repay us for all of the love we showed him and she wanted us forever in his life. I of course started crying and she just hugged me and told me not to be sad, because we weren't saying goodbye. We walked back into the visitation room and sat and talked with them for about an hour. We gave them all of his belongings which having him for almost 2 months including Christmas was A LOT of things. When we went to tell them bye she asked us if we would be his God parents. I was boo-hooing at this point and she said that we were stuck with them forever. She told me that she would bring him to see us before the month was over and if we ever wanted him for the weekend or anything he was ours. I felt such a peace leaving that office. I was still crying but it was a happy cry.  His grandma e-mailed me that night and again thanked us for loving him. She said we will see him before this month is over and reassured me that he was in great hands. It was a crazy afternoon.

We have had no "extra" kids for 4 days now and I am just waiting for the call. 

I hear it all the time, "I could never do that! You are a saint". This drives me nuts I know it sounds crazy and I have told so many people but I hate when people think we are such great people. Let me be the first to say we are flawed sinful people that God chose to use for something amazing. I love how in the Bible so many times God chose the people you would NEVER have thought. Just ordinary Joe's who most of the time came from very sinful lives. And just like Jonah we didn't jump into this thrilled, we actually said NO, NO WAY, HECK TO THE NO several times. It wasn't until we said YES that amazing things started happening. We started loving other people's children like they were our own. We watched childrens lives change before our eyes. Kids that didn't want to be touched would eventually hug, kiss and even say "I love you". Kids that would be scared to be in crowds, would run right into a room and be at ease. It's amazing. It's challenging, its downright C-R-A-Z-Y sometimes.I love the book, "Kisses from Katie" and she says this and I would never be able to say it better, 

"My family, adopting (and fostering) these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to "help these poor kids out." I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it."

 But man, what if we had said no again? What if sweet little Abigail didn't come home to us? What if Little Man K had gone to a group home? What if,what if, what if? All I know is wake up everyday thankful I said yes. Even on the hard days, when I want to run for the hills I'm still thankful I said yes! If God asks you to do something... SAY YES! 


Erin Perry said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been holding back tears, since I am reading this at work. I think about you often and it blesses me to know what your family is doing. Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I've been looking for a legit foster care blog for a long time and yours fits the bill! I love your honesty, that you speak about what's truly in your heart, and why you do what you do! Thank You!


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