Monday, January 26, 2015


I anticipated the initial adjustment period of a foster placement to be difficult.  And it was.  I also expect the end of the placement to be challenging for a whole different set of reasons.  And it will be. But I did not expect the middle of the placement to be as hard as it is some days.  In many ways, things right now are easy.  He seems like just another member of our family. He goes with our flow and knows what to expect of us and us of him.  I'm well used to navigating baby gates, nap time and declining invites out after 7pm. But within the groove are rough patches.  Infants become more aware of their abnormal situation as they become older and deal with their confusion in ways I wasn't quite ready for but knew were possible.  I know the systems involved are not perfect.  I used to be a social worker myself.  But when you're watching a child grow up before your eyes and become deeply attached to you as if you are a mother-equivalent, you can't help but hope reunification comes quickly.  For the child.  For the mother.  And for yourself. (Assuming the birth mother is ready and has proven so, of course.)


So the other day I was walking through the house, semi-attempting not to step on the many toys and things-turned-toys strewn across the floor, when I accidentally stepped on a new canister of cocoa. The pressure broke the nifty foil covering and blew off the lid (with significant force) sending a dust storm of cocoa into the mudroom, school room and under the door (and several feet) into the bathroom.  While it made the house smell divine, it inspired Miriam to give me her wise advice once again, "If I were you, I'd move to a new house."


While bottles in my fridge, onesies in my laundry and smelly diapers in a bin outside my back door is the norm now, there are moments when it still shocks me.  I'm a foster mom.  I waffle between looking forward to the freedom that will come when I'll return to parenting my own three children, the near panic at the thought of his leaving, and the anticipation of what the next baby will be like (after a considerable break in between).

My emotions swing along from one pondering to another but are never allowed too wide a berth.  I can't let them swing out too far.  I reign them in and tuck them down and pull out the next school binder, clean off the high chair tray and fill another bottle.  I don't feel like I'm suppressing anything as much as I'm keeping it in check.  One day (or week or month), they will be given permission to swing their farthest and I'll most certainly break down.  For now, all I can say is that there is a season for everything and while my mind races forward, I really need to keep it (mostly) centered in the here and now.


I no longer wash Sam, Sadie or Miriam's clothes.  This is not a punishment.  It occurred to me recently that they are fully capable of taking care of this themselves.  And since they're home most days all day they have the time to do it.  When Sam or Sadie and Miriam's (Sadie and Miriam share a room) laundry baskets get full they bring it downstairs, wash it, dry it and fold it.  Sadie does Miriam's for her since their clothes are together.  Now I only wash Jamey's clothes, mine and the baby's.  I can't tell you how this minor shift in responsibility has lightened my load.


The baby has weekly all day visits with his mother.  We make a point of doing fun things with our older kids on these days.  The visits fall on our homeschool co-op day so we spend the morning there. Then, I take the kids to a local bagel shop for lunch.  In the afternoon I try to find something fun for us to do.

{If you know me, you know that this isn't really me.  I'm a homebody and a bit stingy, believing that children shouldn't need to be entertained all the time.  That said, my kids have been AMAZING through this placement.  It's not all warm and fuzzy but much of the time it is.  They're helpful, loving and incredibly understanding despite the hard feelings that surface now and then.}

So one day we spent the afternoon at a friend's house, another visit day we went to a paint your own pottery studio, one day we went to the movies (there were only two other people in the theater!) and most recently, Jamey took off work early and met us at the bowling alley. We want our kids to see and participate in the service that is foster care but we also want to remind them how much we love them and are so very proud of them.


Our foster child has been with us for six months and we are on our fifth foster care worker.  Fifth.  I know turnover is high and therefore experience/stamina is often low (which contributes greatly to the high turnover, I believe).  This is no fun, light-hearted profession. I get that. Thankfully, we haven't needed a lot of hand-holding and an amazing private agency has taken over visits and therapeutic services for the birth mom and her child.  If I did need more assistance from the actual foster care agency, I do feel like I could get it.  Having worked in child mental health in the past, I know who to call and what to say.  No matter how well each worker explains and passes on each case to the next, I do worry about continuity.  It's strange being on the other side of things and having to remember my place.  It's not that they don't want my input but I'm not a professional player on the team anymore. I'm the foster mom and in some ways this is freeing.  My job is to love and nurture the child and do my best to connect with and support the birth mom to increase positive interactions and transitions.

And that's plumb enough.


Until I can muster the time and courage to share more of this journey again....


my first forced amaryllis- off topic but glorious

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  1. Thank you for being willing to share so openly; it helps us know better how to pray for each of you.
    And somehow that forced Amaryllis bloom doesn't really seem off-topic :)
    God's peace to your home and your hearts.

  2. I am always just blown away by those who do foster care and you have not changed my view one whit. Bless you for your large heart and the legacy of love you are giving to the little ones who will pass in and out of your lives but also for your own children who will appreciate even more the stable God centered home-life they are able to enjoy! (OK they are likely to appreciate it more in a few years! smile!)

  3. God bless you for doing this. I can't imagine both the highs and the lows this opportunity gives you and your family. Plus the view you give the rest of the world into this experience. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for sharing your journey. Blessings to you all!

  5. You write beautifully my friend. How lovely it is to visit with you here and hear your heart. XOXO


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