respite care

We just spent a week together as approved respite care for *little man. I’m trying to find an easy way to answer the question, ‘how was your week?’

Our week was amazing,

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Our week was exhausting,

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Our week was joyful,

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Our week was trying to understand,

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Our week was bonding,

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Our week was a success!

There is no way to easily answer this question. Thanks again for your sweetness and perfectly subtle and silent support!

Firsts

There will be many firsts ahead. We won’t be able to document the first word, first steps, first other baby stuff. We will have to do some research to understand those milestones. But we do get to document that today marks the first time either county we are dealing with has reached out to us! We have a caseworker assigned to us from our county! They contacted us!

Now, the next step will be for our caseworker to touch base with *little man’s caseworker. We will be meeting our point of contact next week. She will be walking through the house quarterly, talking to our boys. And my favorite part, she will be able to answer questions.

no fair!

Today’s Georgia ice/snow day off school reminded me about this saying that siblings often recite over and over, “no fair.”  Though it can be frustrating and annoying to hear, it is a true statement.  Parenting should not be “fair” (aka, equal).

*Minion* was hit hard by a virus yesterday, slept most of the day after being checked out of school by Brian, and ate almost nothing.

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Here we are waiting at the doctor’s office…poor buddy.

Thank goodness, he tested negative to the nasty flu and negative to strep.  He woke up today back to normal, not just because he woke up to snow.  Northern friends and family, it is the strangest phenomena here in Georgia; snow in the Deep South may cause more excitement than Christmas morning to a born-Southerner.  Every friend in the neighborhood is out to play and usually stays until the snow turns to mud.

 

*Minion* was somehow distracted until about 10 am, he ate well, literally did a happy dance, and no fever; so, I decided to bundle him up and would give him 20 minutes of joy in the 1 inch of snow.  After 20ish minutes, I called him in, and heard, “no fair, *C$* doesn’t have to come in?”  My response was, no.  I did explain to him why, that his body needed rest from yesterday’s virus.  Of course, I do not always have the time or energy to explain things to my kids (hence the ever popular, ‘because I said so’), but sometimes they need to understand especially when things are out of the norm, or when things have to change.  ***no fair…

We have had numerous playdates with a couple of children in foster care.  After one playdate, both of our boys “understood” this lesson of “no fair.”  This older child had become very comfortable in our home.  He doesn’t necessarily play well with others, but had made some progress with *C$* and *Minion* at the point of this particular visit.  He chose hide-and-seek.  He ended up getting “stuck” in the laundry shoot.  little M  He was adamant that he was coming out to the bottom floor and absolutely could not get out the way he went in.  Looking back on it now, though terrified at the time, it was a game for him, a way for him to play with our little boys.  He was getting everyone involved in our attempts at “saving” him.  We all worked together add pillows, cushions, and blankets below to catch his fall.  The boys laughed when it was over (I was still sweating a little).  *Minion* said, “I wanna do that!”  Of course, I said, “no,” and followed with, “it isn’t safe, and if you choose to do it, you can’t play hide-and-seek.”  ***no fair…

Another *little man* came to our house for a playdate. Like every day, (best neighborhood ever) a friend knocked on the door and asked *C$* to go the long way to play kickball. He responded with, “no, I have *little man* over and he can’t go the long way.” Luckily, I heard this exchange, because there are things in our biological children’s life that should not change. I jumped in and said, “yes, you can go the long way, I will walk *little man* down the short way.” *Little man* responded with, “no fair, I want to go with *C$!* He was sad, but I was able to explain to him, you are not old enough, someday…I know, ***no fair…

I have found that the rules in our home change with the season of life we are experiencing as well.  Here are a few examples:

  • “no, you may not bathe together”…”no fair, we used to”
  • “yes, you have to wear underwear to preschool”…”no fair, you didn’t make me before”
  • “no, you may not come downstairs naked and get dressed in front of the T.V.”…”no fair, none of our friends are here”
  • “yes, you have to wear a cup to baseball practice”…*Minion,* “no fair…my privates are too small to get hurt”
  • “no, you may not build a zip-line in our backyard without help”…*C$,* “no fair…I want to do it now”
  • “no, you may not wear shorts to school, it is freezing outside”…”no fair…I can run to the car”
  • “yes, you have to use a napkin”…”no fair…my sleeve does the same thing”
  • “no, you may not pee off the back deck”…”no fair…the neighbors are not outside”

Of course, we don’t usually have to remind them of those rules anymore because they are older and understand why.  We decided to sit down with our boys, prior to this transition of a new family member, and asked them what they thought the most important rules of our home were.  (This was a little strange because we never made rules formal prior to now.)  Here is the list they came up with, with my interpretation to the right:

  1. cannot leave the house without telling Mom or Dad (safety)
  2. homework has to be done before you play (seasonal)
  3. when you feel angry, go to another room, and talk about your feelings when you feel calm (self-worth)

Brian and I were pretty pumped at this list since they generated it.  And I was pumped since it included safety and self-worth!  (Brian and I nixed their suggestion of “no dessert after dinner on school nights rule,” because that is just another seasonal rule for *Minion* since it affected his healthy choices…e.v.e.r.y. night.)  It obviously hit hard with their current season of life, since they both agreed it was important.  🙂  We plan to share these top three rules with *little one* and allow him/her to add to the list.

According to two of the authors I mentioned in the post “research,” children of trauma become easily frustrated or even revert to their survival instincts of fight, flight, or freeze, with the word “no.”  Remember, in the beginning, we are working on our number one goal- our relationship.  We will be focusing on safety and self-worth.  ***Totally fair and deserving for every child…

We have prepared our boys with adding a new sibling.  “No, he/she will not have some of the same expectations as you.”  Kid level example- You will still be expected to try every vegetable we put on your plate.  New sibling- their expectation will not be equal.  They will be given equal opportunity to eat that vegetable, but will not have to stand by that seasonal house rule of “try everything.” ***no fair…

So, if you don’t hear us say, “no.”  Remember, it is not that we are just trying to avoid temper tantrums; we are treating the new sibling differently, we are bonding.  That is something that is non-negotiable.  He/she needs to feel safe and build confidence in the fact that we truly are their forever family.

faces

I chuckle at the name of this post because my best friend growing up, and I used this word through middle school and high school over and over in numerous phrases; but, “I love your face,” has so much meaning in our life right now.

“What made you decide?”

I have tried to answer the question numerous times, but there is no “short version” (as my Dad would call it, when we were growing up) so here goes the long version:

I am excited and baffled at how many people, in these 7 short months of waiting, have told me, we have thought about “that,” we have discussed “that.”  And “that” is why my friends have not taken steps to go anywhere after their discussion to foster or adopt.

I understand there are so many unknowns with kids of trauma (hence my next post- “research”).  Once you put a face to the word “that,” heartstrings are pulled even harder.

Several faces that led us to answering the above question:  Brian and I would have started our family with adoption due to a little face that I fell in love with through tutoring.  She had missed 50+ days of kindergarten and was removed from her home for obvious reasons and more.  Brian was ready to move forward with me, though never met her.  I knew then that the idea to foster or adopt was not stopping with this little face.  Brian has a heart of gold.  He is not intimidated by the hard stuff or baggage that kids of trauma carry with them, causing many people to stop their discussion of “that.”

Other faces: I’ll never forget balling my eyes out on the shoulder of a dear friend when my first student was removed from his family, and taken from my classroom by DFCS at school.  She said to me, “Lori, he is safe now.  This is not his worst day, but the beginning of his road to a better life.”  I could see his little face (and the faces of his siblings whom I had never met) in my dreams, nightmares, and lying in bed awake, thinking about what they had gone through, in the weeks after saying goodbye to him.  There would be a several students follow him into or out of the care of DFCS, during my years teaching.  Their faces will randomly pop into my head and I wonder how they are, or if their roads of life are any easier.

Last year, our boys were old enough to understand what foster care meant so we decided to volunteer at an amazing place Goshen Valley.  We knew a boy who lived there and decided to continue volunteering and visiting him so that he could have a connection outside of the ranch.  This “face” (relationship) pushed Brian and I to attend the informational meeting held at our county last March (2016) to gather information on becoming foster parents.  We made numerous excuses as to why the upcoming IMPACT trainings, through our county DFCS, did not fit into our schedule.  Then, another face…

We have known another little friend in care for over 2 years.  He has crossed our path several times, call it fate, call it God’s plan.  We know his face, his strong, playful personality.  We know he has similar interests to our biological children, we know he wouldn’t disrupt our birth order, we know we already feel connected, and we know his little face is in desperate need of a forever family.  We have requested for this sweet boy to be transferred to our home.  We are ready to love him, understand him, and keep him…forever.

***We interrupt this blog post for a soapbox moment:  There are NO open foster homes in our county.  “Our kids” are being sent as far as South Georgia to find placement.  I do not think every family has the tools…yet…to become a foster family or adopt a child of trauma, but every family can volunteer or donate to children who are in need.  According to the U.S. department of health and human services, there are over 430,000 children in foster care.  Visit this link to find out more information on how your family can help: https://www.hhs.gov/blog/2017/05/09/empowering-caregivers-strengthening-families.html  Find a face, program, or non-profit to connect with, or due to busy schedules donate your resources.  I get it…there is always the “we have discussed ‘that’,” but once you see their little faces, you will see how much need the children in our communities have. ***End soapbox moment.***

waiting

We are “all-in.”  Training course- check, homestudy- check, approval- check, waiting- check.  I wait all year for summer…for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is because of my front porch view of the sunset.

I sit and wait every night we are home to reflect.  sunset

The kind of waiting we are doing now is different.  It isn’t just excitement, awe, beauty, and wonder.  It is the kind of waiting that stirs many questions.  Questions about the process, questions about the match, questions from our boys, and questions from family and friends. We have realized very quickly that we have to have patience with the process, patience that the “right” match will happen, and patience for our forever family.

I am a wife to my high school sweetheart, Brian, mom of two biological boys, and an elementary school teacher.  I have landed my words on this blog so I don’t forget.  My hope is to be able to document, learn, educate, tell our story and connect.