As the Door Revolves

In May, 2017, a 5 month old and her 5 yr old sister were placed with us.  They left 3 months later.

It took a few weeks, but we got another placement, a 2-yr-old little boy.  We were told his premie newborn baby brother would come to us when released from the hospital Two and a half weeks later, the little guy went to live with his grandmother and the baby was released into their care as well.

We again had to wait a couple of weeks when Baby Girl was placed with us.  Then several weeks went by and we received the placement of another 2-yr-old little boy, who turned 3 the next day.  He was with us for exactly 1 month before going to live with his mom’s cousin.

About 1/2 hour after he left, we got a call about a 1-yr-old and her 4-yr-old sister.  They arrived on our doorstep a couple of hours later.

Then last Friday Baby girl left us.  We were just 1 day shy of having her 4 months.  Little did we know that another baby girl was born last Friday and last night that baby girl was placed in our care.

In 8 months, we have had 8 children come into our care.  We seem to have a revolving door for foster children and while each of them have touched our lives in different ways, it’s not easy having them come and go so quickly.

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At this moment, we have no idea how long the sisters or our newest baby girl will be with us.  The State of Texas pushes CPS workers to find acceptable family members (kinship) or family friends (fictive kin) that will take these children.  So the chances of us keeping any child long-term feels like an improbability at the moment.  Still, we will keep the door spinning and accepting children into our home and our lives.

 

Travel

Baby Girl left on Friday and although we’ve had a tearful weekend, we’re doing okay.  It helps that her CASA worker reached out to me and said he would keep me updated on how she is doing.  I’m sure she’s fine and I want her to be doing well, although there is that tiny piece that hopes she misses us so terribly that she’s making everyone’s life miserable and they want to send her back.  That’s the selfish part of me.

But this post isn’t going to be all about Baby Girl or even about foster care.  This post is going to be about another love of mine . . . . .

Travel

 

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We really do enjoy traveling, although foster care is making travel a bit challenging.

Our main travel the last few years has consisted of cruises and travel between Texas and Illinois.  The girls and I hit the road a few years ago and went to California, but that’s pretty much it.

Between hubby and I, we’ve seen almost all 50 states.  While in the Army, hubby spent two years in Germany, but didn’t take the opportunity to see other parts of Europe.  Other than Guatemala, Ethiopia and cruise ports, I’ve never visited many places outside of the U.S. and think I would very much enjoy seeing Europe.  I think the girls would enjoy it as well, plus, what a great opportunity for some road schooling.

We currently have a deposit down on a cruise for next year, but are discussing the possibility of canceling the cruise and planning a European vacation.

At one time, we had a European cruise scheduled, but we switched that to a Caribbean cruise because hubby really doesn’t want to waste time on a ship when we could be traveling around Europe.

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Tonight, he asked me where in Europe I would like to go and I didn’t have an answer for him.  There are so many choices!!!!!

Do we visit Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, France, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Spain . . . . the list goes on.

It’s not like we’ll be able to spend a month traveling around Europe, although that would be awesome.  Financially, we just can’t do that, so if we can make it happen, we’ll likely only have 2 weeks.

So here is my question to you.

If you had two weeks to travel around Europe, which countries would you visit and why?

 

 

 

As Expected, Sadly

Yesterday I received a call from the CPS worker telling me that Baby Girl would be moving to her aunt’s home.  They would be picking her up the following morning.

The pick up happened this morning and although Baby Girl was giving out her beautiful gummy smile to all of us, we were a basket case of tears.

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We signed up for this heartbreak and each time I find myself asking why.

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Then I look in the mirror and have a talk with me.

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“There are other babies that need you.  Those babies need someone to love them, care for them, and meet their every need so they have an opportunity to grow to be happy, healthy and strong. ”

So yes, we have cried “A LOT” over the last 24 hours and there will likely continue to be tears as I look thru pictures, put away her outgrown clothes and wash her bedding in preparation for the next baby that comes our way.

And yes, I do mean baby.

Along this journey we have learned a lot and one thing we have learned is that having babies in the home just works best for us.

Lili has made no secret of the fact that she loves having babies here.  She loves watching them grow and change.  She loves helping care for them.  She loves talking to them and playing with them.  She could make Baby Girl laugh like no one else could.

Naomi, has shown us her mommy side.  While she seems to like older babies and toddlers more, she had a special bond with Baby Girl.  That bond played out in different ways, but one way in particular was very special.  When Baby Girl would get over-tired, she would get extremely fussy (understatement).  Other than me, Naomi was the only one in the house that was able to calm her down and get her to sleep.  She held her in her special way, would sing to her and soon Baby Girl was off to dreamland.

Dave, who admittedly is not a baby person, developed a special bond with Baby Girl as well.  She flashed that gummy smile and he was putty in her hands.  He might not admit it, but it showed on his face every time.  He would even change dirty diapers from time-to-time.

Throughout this process, we have discovered that for our family, babies work out the best.

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We can do schoolwork while they nap.  They hang out with us on field trips and errands.  Not that we haven’t enjoyed the older kids we’ve had (and still have), but we’ve found a rhythm that works well and would like to continue down the path of having babies in our house.

So now we wait for the call that another baby needs us.  I don’t know if that will be today, a week from now or a month from now, but we will be here and be ready for that call.

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Questions I’m Pondering – Deep Thoughts

I have deep thoughts and those thoughts cause me to ask many questions.

In my blogs over the last several months, I have primarily discussed foster care, so it may shock some do discover that my thoughts and questions are not only about foster care.  I have many thoughts about many different topics and quite honestly, I’m sometimes fearful to write about those things that are more controversial.

Since my blog was meant to chronicle the World of Weeks, if I don’t write about all my many question or deep thoughts, than I’m not really providing an accurate chronicle of life in the World of Weeks.  After all, our life is not just about foster care, adoption and homeschooling.  It is so much more, so let me share something I’ve been pondering.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of all the people from different countries who fled because they weren’t safe in their country.

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They fled for their freedom.  They fled for opportunity.  They fled for their lives.

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How many who didn’t flee, stayed because they didn’t think things were all that bad?

How many who didn’t flee, stayed because they thought they could fight back?

How many who didn’t flee, stayed because they thought things would improve?

How many who didn’t flee, stayed out of fear of fleeing?

All of my childhood and most of my adulthood, I’ve not been able to even imagine the thoughts going thru these people’s minds.  I’ve never had to live my life with any real concerns for my safety of the safety of my family because of my government.

Sadly, for the first time in my life, I feel concern.  I feel fear.

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I question how safe it is to live in the U.S. today.

I now have a small glimpse into the life of the millions before me who found themselves in a situation they didn’t dream possible.

I feel a sadness, like I’ve never felt before, for all those before me who have found themselves living in fear and struggling to find a way out.

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Does this mean we should all flee the U.S. for a safer place?

Not necessarily.  After all, our government has been set up to provide checks and balances in an effort to prevent any one person from being in complete power, right?!

Still,  I never imagined that I would see a U.S. president that is so clearly pouring fuel on so many fires and that by doing so, puts American citizens at risk.

I never imagined that I would see a U.S. president that is so clearly racist.

I never imagined that I would see a U.S. president so unqualified for the job.

I never imagined that I would see a U.S. president who is so similar to Hitler in what he says and tries to do.

I never imagined that I would see a U.S. president that would cause this great country to slide so quickly backwards.

So I find myself asking . . .

How many before me found themselves in similar circumstances and at what point they decided it was time to flee?

How many before me found themselves feeling that things would get better?

How many before me waited until it was too late to do anything?

How many before me had friends and family who thought they were crazy for even suggesting it was time to flee, let alone actually following thru?

Are we safer simply because it’s the U.S.?  Are we safer because of our government?  Are we safer because of history?

I know there are many who are in complete support of our current leadership and completely disagree with my assessment of our current president.

I know there are many who trust our elected officials to keep us safe.

I know there are many who think that even suggesting we should be concerned is crazy.

So I am not in agreement with everyone as they are not in agreement with me.  That doesn’t dismiss the fact that I just can’t shake this feeling that we are not really all that different from the many before us who found themselves in similar circumstances, with similar questions, who decided to stay and then regretted it.

I don’t know the answers to all the questions floating thru my brain these days, but I will continue to ponder the questions and pay attention while hoping that things get better.

 

 

Do You Remember the Time

I wrote a blog post every day or at least every couple of days.  Those days seem to be long gone now and I do know that between 5 kids, a husband, a house, homeschooling and just living, the blog has taken a backseat.  Still, I hate that I’m not on top of blogging on a regular basis.  It really is therapeutic and I’m likely going to need some therapy over the next week.

One week from today, there will be a placement hearing about moving Baby Girl from our care to the care of a relative.

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It doesn’t matter that she came to us straight from the hospital.  It doesn’t matter that in almost 4 months, mom has only seen her a handful of times.  It doesn’t matter that mom has been given her list of services and isn’t working any of them.  It doesn’t matter that dad isn’t in the picture at this time.  It doesn’t matter that this family member has a denied home study.  It doesn’t matter that Baby Girl is being moved from the only home and family she has known to complete strangers.  It doesn’t matter that she’s thriving in our home.

It does matter that they are family.  It does matter that the state would only have to pay half of what they pay foster families.  It does matter that by moving her, the state is less liable for anything that might happen while she is in the care of family.

Not that I’m bitter or emotional at all about this (she says sarcastically).  I suppose I shouldn’t be bitter or emotional since I signed up to do foster care and know full well that I will likely say good-bye to each child that walks thru our door.  But at the same time, Baby Girl has been loved, nurtured, and adored for almost 4 months now.  She has become very much part of our family and she is as attached to us as we are to her.  I don’t think this state often does what is truly within the best interest of the child.  I guess that means it’s my job to do what is in their best interest while I have them.

So in one week we will get a call letting us know whether or not she is being removed from our care and into the care of a family member.  Because of the judge overseeing the case, the chances of this happening are very, very high.  As such, we have to do everything we can to prepare ourselves for broken hearts next week.

In the meantime, we did have a good Christmas.  It wasn’t the Christmas we thought we would have though.

On the 21st, we were informed that the little boy we had (the one we told would be with us thru Christmas) would be picked up and taken to a relative.  About 30 minutes after he left, we got a call about two little girls who needed placement and within a few hours they were walking thru our door.  The oldest is 4 and the youngest is 17 months.

They came to us with the clothes on their backs.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We scrambled to get them clothes and gifts for Christmas.

Then, in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve, hubby, Lili and I were all sick.  There is never a good time to be sick, but I’m not sure there could have been a worse time either.  There were gifts to wrap and preparations to complete.  We had family scheduled to come over that afternoon, which we had to postpone.  Of course there was also that little job of elf that needed to happen Christmas night.

Hubby got hit the hardest and I knew he would not have the energy or strength to help.  So I dug deep, did a lot of self-talk and got it done.

Having both parents down for the count meant that there were disappointments as well.

Naomi wanted Cinnabons for breakfast on Christmas morning.

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There was no way we could make that happen though.  Not only did either of us have the energy to get to the nearest Cinnabon, but we certainly didn’t want to expose everyone in the store to the flu.  So Cinnabon would have to wait for another day.

Our nephew was visiting from out-of-state and we were not able to see him.  Can’t say I blame him for not wanting to walk into the infirmary.

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At least two of us didn’t have the Christmas spirit we usually have and then later that day, Baby Girl threw up.  She was the one I really wanted to try to protect from getting sick.  Somehow, she managed to smiled and coo thru it all!

Now Christmas is over.  The tree has been taken down.  We’re having a major cold snap, so there hasn’t been a lot of time outside the house.

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Our two newest are starting to really settle in and we’re preparing for the likely change of Baby Girl moving on.

But that’s our life.  We’re doing what we feel we should be doing.   It’s difficult and it’s  sad, but it’s also rewarding and has left us with happy memories many times overs.   As such, we’ll continue to do this as long as we can.  Maybe one day we’ll accept a placement that will never leave.  Until then, we’ll do all we can to make life as good as we can for these little ones and hope that when they move on, they have a wonderful life.

2017 Coming to an End

As 2017 comes to an end, we reflect on all that has happened during the last year.

 

Dave celebrated 11 years with Microsoft and has done a fair amount of travel  – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Atlanta a couple different times plus a couple other cities.  All trips were to meet with customers, so not any time for sight-seeing or visiting friends and family in those areas.

He ended 2016 in the hospital and welcomed in 2017 in the hospital.  All the same stay due to severe back problems.  It’s been an ongoing thing for several years with doctors telling him it was arthritis.  This time he met with a back doctor who was able to determine that it’s not arthritis but disc degeneration in his low back.  He will eventually need back surgery, but several times during the year he’s gone in for back injections which have helped.  

Since his doctor was able to help him with his back issues, he asked if there was anything he could do about his chronic headaches.  Something he’s had for 20+ years and no doctor has been able to determine the cause.  Again, the back doctor discovered that he has a slipped disc in his upper spine that has caused the severe headaches all these years.  To avoid surgery, they’ve been trying injections.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been as successful as the back injections, so 2018 may include surgery for him.  

Debbie continues to be a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling the girls and staying busy with all their activities.  She helped start a co-op with some other homeschool moms and has made several new friends over the past year. 

Lili is 10 and doing 5th grade work this year.  She continues to take art classes and is in a Jr. Master Naturalist program thru the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  She also got braces this year and is looking much older these days.  

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Naomi is 8 and doing 3rd grade work this year.  She continues to take acting classes and very much enjoys dancing and singing.  She too has had some orthodontic work done.  No braces yet, but had to get an expander to widen her pallet so her permanent teeth have room in her mouth.  Braces are likely in her future as well, so this is step 1 of 2.

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Obviously, both girls are very much into the Arts and we are thrilled they have found things they love.  Both have participated in the Variety Shows at Frisco School of Performing Arts.  You can see them in the latest show by clicking here.  And here is Lili’s artwork from that show. 

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She had another class before the Holiday break and thru together this Dr. Seuss inspired piece.

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Lili and Naomi are so very different from each other and are both amazing, talented young ladies. 

Debbie and the girls are active with their homeschool group, co-op and regular trips around the DFW area for educational opportunities. 

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In January, we took another cruise sailing to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. 

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It’s always nice to get away and spend time connecting more closely with each other. 

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We had the added pleasure of friends joining us on the cruise.  It was their first, but hopefully not our last cruise together.

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Over the summer Debbie and the girl travelled to Illinois to visit friends and family.  We brought friends back home with us for a couple of weeks before making the trip back to Illinois via Galveston. 

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Yes, we realize that Galveston isn’t on the way to Illinois from Dallas, but our visitors had never seen the ocean.  After spending a few hours at the beach, we headed east thru Louisiana and then north thru Mississippi toward Illinois.  It was a nice visit, and all had so much fun at the beach that we plan to go back next year.  Hopefully we can make it a longer beach vacation.

We also attended a family reunion and were able to visit with family we haven’t seen in many years.  It was so nice to catch up and while I wish visits could happen more often, being spread across the U.S. makes it very difficult.  Fortunately, we do have family on both sides here in Texas and are able to have regular visits with them. 

On April 29th, we became a licensed as a Texas foster home.  Within three days of being licensed we had a 5-month-old and her 5-year-old sister.  They were with us for 3 months before leaving to go live with their grandmother. 

A few weeks later we had a 2-year-old boy, who was only with us for 2 ½ weeks before he went on to live with his grandmother. 

On September 28th we got a 6-day-old baby girl who is still with us and will be here at least until the end of January. 

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Two days before Thanksgiving we got a 2-year-old little boy, who turned 3 the next day.  He too is still with us, although we’re not sure if he’ll be with us during the holidays or not.  All is dependent on the outcome in court.  

In the State of Texas, CPS tries very hard to place children in a kinship home.  It may be biological family members or could be a friend of the biological family.  So far, all the cases we’ve had in Texas have moved to kinship care.  The little guy we have now may be going to a family member right before Christmas, but we likely won’t know until at least December 20th.  

Of course, there is always the possibility that another child may come into our care between now and Christmas.  Foster care is a lot of things, but certainly never boring.

In addition to the foster children we’ve had, we have taken in some other foster children for respite care.  Some as short as 3 days and others as long as 2 weeks.

Needless-to-say, between our girls, the three dogs and foster children, we manage to stay pretty busy. Yet we’re never too busy to take time out to think of all our friends and family, both near and far.  We hope all of you have had a wonderful 2017 and wish you an even more spectacular 2018.

Happy Holidays!!!