Finding Your Place

The place you feel at peace.  The place that makes you happy.  The place you can call home.

I’ve blogged about this some in the past.  Or maybe I’ve blogged about it a lot in the past.  Hubby and I have many things we have wanted to do and many things we hope to do.  Life is too short and adventure awaits!!

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Our biggest dream was to buy some land and build a homestead where we could raise our own animals and food.  That dream didn’t produce anything though because of physical problems that seemed to be getting worse.   Instead of moving forward with our plan, we threw it away (although there is still a part of me that wants my chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and goats).

We pushed aside our fears and doubts and began the process of becoming licensed foster parents in Illinois.  We had four foster children and after having the last two for 15 months, hubby was offered a new job opportunity in Texas.  With tremendous heartbreak, we moved our two foster sons to a new foster home, packed up our belongings and left Illinois after almost 20 year of being back in the Land of Lincoln.

It’s been about 2 1/2 years since we moved to Texas and while things haven’t gone exactly as we envisioned them, there have been some definite highs.

Hubby’s job has gone well and it was absolutely the right move for him to make.

After buying our house here, we got our foster license again and have fostered a total of 8 children in the last year.   While it has been very hard in many ways, I’m having trouble imagining life without any of the children that came into our care.  While the goal is to give these children all that we can, the truth is, we have gained much from having them be part of our lives.

We’ve made new friends and reconnected with family.

At the same time, we miss those we left behind in Illinois and haven’t been able to get back as often as we had hoped.

Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about their wishes and dreams.  How they would like to pursue a new hobby or a new job.

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How they wish they lived in the mountains or on a lake or near the ocean.

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How they wish they were living in a different town, state or country.  Yet, very few of them make those changes or moves.

Our homestead didn’t happen because we knew the physical limitations would prevent us from being able to properly care for the homestead.  We didn’t know for sure when we made that decision, although we do know that for a fact now.  At the same time, there was fear involved in moving ahead with homesteading.

When we decided to make the move to Texas, there was fear involved.   There was sadness involved.  At the same time, there was excitement about the possibilities.

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The common theme through all of this though has been fear.  The fear of the unknown.  The fear of failure.  The fear of change.

Finding your place in this world isn’t always easy.

Fear will keep us from pursuing things that may truly make us happy.  Staying in the present is safe, but it’s not always joyful.  Keeping with the status quo may be easier, but it’s not always fun.

Then there is the person who knows they want to make a change.  They may even need to make a change.  However, they have no idea what change they want or need to make.  Instead, they live their life in limbo hoping that something will simply fall in their lap so they don’t have to take risks.

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Finding your place means taking risks though.

Maybe it’s not the best time to look for a new job, pack up your family and leave for a new adventure, but maybe the risk is worth it.

Maybe it seems stupid to move half way around the world to find a better life for yourself, but maybe the risk is worth it.

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Of course the big one always seems to be the “M” word . . . money!

– I can’t afford it.

– It’s too expensive.

– I don’t want to take the financial risk.

But here is the real question . . .

Is it worth putting your fears aside?  Is it worth the expense?  Is it worth the possibilities?  Is it worth the risk?

The answer to those questions will be different for everyone.  For me though, taking risks in life is part of what makes life exciting.  It’s how we discover new things and make memories.  It’s how we find our place in this world.  The place we feel truly at peace.  The place we can finally call home.

Have you found that place?  The place that makes you happy and content?  That place you can easily call home?

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11 Years Ago

I a town near Guatemala City, a baby was born.


Today, that baby girl turns 11!!!!!

How is this possible.

Liliana, you have turned our world upside down in so many different ways.

You are creative, artistic, smart, witty, loving, caring, challenging and so much more.

You are loved beyond words and we wish you the Happiest of Birthdays.

 

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A Different Perspective

Big Sister and Little Sister spent 3 months with us last summer (May – August).  When they left to live with a family member, we were broken-hearted and at the same time we were happy for them.  They had been separated from their 3 older siblings during those three months and we had always hoped they were doing well.

When their case worker called to give us an update a couple of weeks ago, we discovered that they weren’t doing as well as we had hoped.

Their time away wasn’t the best.  Then the judge granted a monitored return to mom and dad.  This meant that for six months, CPS would continue to monitor how mom, dad and kids were doing.  Five weeks later, they were removed again and young hearts who had hoped their family would be back together permanently, were once again torn apart.  Sadly, this is a normal part of foster care and I hate it!

We do feel fortunate that we could say yes when we got the call asking if we could take them and now we have a different perspective.

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In the past, all the children who had come into our home were either new to the foster care system or were back in the system, but new to our home and family.  This means there is an adjustment period and it can, and typically does take months for everyone to find their comfort level.  In this case, there is still an adjustment period, but it is shortened due to the fact that we are familiar.  We were their family for 3 months and that makes things easier.  Not that there aren’t challenges, but the familiar certainly helps.

While I’m happy things are easier because of the familiar, it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry.

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I’m angry that the judge ruled against the recommendation of the case worker, CASA and Guardian ad litem and ruled that they be moved to a family member that was not in a position to adequately care for the children.

I’m angry that there is so much emphasis put on biology and as such,  what’s best for the children is pushed aside to place them with biological family.

I’m angry that each move, whether with biological family or not, makes it more difficult for children to feel safe and trust their caregivers.

Most of all, I’m angry at the parents and the reasons are too many to list right now.

So we start all over again and go thru the steps with the primary goal being reunification.  It doesn’t matter that this is mom and dad’s 4th time having their children removed, reunification remains the goal.

Then we wait to see if there are other family members who will take the kids while parents work their services.  In other words, we wait to see if we say good-bye yet again.

Then we wait to see if the courts will return them to mom and dad or terminate their rights.

We wait to see if the decision will be in the hands of a judge or jury.

We wait to see what happens if they do go back to mom and dad.  Will they get it right next time or will the kids are removed a 5th time?

In a nutshell,  I’m angry with the system and with the parents.  How many times do these children have to be tossed around in the name of reunification?

Having a different perspective hasn’t changed my feelings, but it has certainly caused some of those feeling to become more intense.

We love these little girls and only want what is best for them, but how can this possibly be good for them?

How can it be good for any child to spend half of their life in the foster care system?  Yes, Big Sister has spent that much time in the system.  Little Sister has spent over half of her life in the system.  Now there is a new baby on the way who will enter this world into the system.  How can it be good for them that this is normal?

At the same time, this is what we signed up for.  We willingly stepped into this world of foster care and we have to be on board with the decisions made.  It doesn’t mean we have to like them and we don’t.

For now, we are their family unit and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to make sure they live in a safe, loving, nurturing and normal family environment.  We’re doing the best we can and sometimes our best doesn’t feel like enough.  We just have to hope it is and that no matter how much longer they are with us, they walk away with a different perspective for their lives.  A happier and more positive perspective for their futures.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes It’s More Bittersweet

Foster care is obviously a big part of our lives.  So much so, that I haven’t written a blog post in about six weeks.  With a newborn and a toddler in the house for the last few weeks, writing has been a little challenging 🙂

When I left you, I talked about the revolving door of foster care.  It has continued.

We still have the baby, but the two little girls we got right before Christmas left last week to go live with family.  We also agreed to help out another family with respite care (respite care = caring for a child to give foster parents a little break or caring for them because the foster parents are leaving town and can’t take the foster child with them).  So we’ve had a 1-month-old and a 7-month-old for the past week.  We’ve gotten a few calls but have had to turn them down because the State of Texas only allows two under the age of 18 months be placed in a foster home.  The calls have included infants and with two in the house already, we had to turn them down.

Then yesterday we got a surprise call.

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It was from a case worker we worked with previously.  My first thought was that she was the new case worker for the baby we have now, but instead she was calling to see if, by chance, we had beds available for the two little girls we had last summer.

These two little girls were our first placements after licensing.  We had them for three months and then they left to go live with a family member.  We had watched the oldest blossom and the baby had gone from having some developmental delays, to being not only being caught up, but being above age level in her development.  We all loved these girls dearly and were absolutely heart-broken when they left.  So when the case worker asked if we had openings, I felt excitement, sadness and fear.

The thought of these two coming back into our family was such an exciting feeling.  At the same time, I was so very sad to learn that they had been returned to mom and dad, only to be removed yet again.  Then the fear set in as I told the case worker that we could take the oldest, but with two infants in the house, we couldn’t take the youngest (who is now 15 months), until Thursday when our respite baby goes back to her foster parents.

Fortunately, the case worker very much wanted these girls to be with us, so after conversations between our agency and the case worker, these precious little girls will be returning to our home.

Foster care can be so bittersweet, but sometimes it’s more bittersweet than usual.

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This is one of those times.

As our door revolves yet again, we are hoping that these girls will be able to stay with us long-term this time.   We want the opportunity to help these little ones blossom and grow long-term instead of being uprooted once again.

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We don’t know if the judge will give mom and dad another chance or not.  We do know that CPS doesn’t want them with the family member they were with previously and we will likely be picking up the pieces of their broken hearts.  Yet, we’re so very happy to have them become part of our family once again and are hoping for the very best.

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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