Mending Little Broken Hearts

Tomorrow, Baby Girl’s case goes back to court.  The really difficult part of these court dates is the unknown.

I know she will not be returning to mom any time soon, but last month I sat on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she would be removed from our care and placed in the care of her aunt.  Since the other children we had went to family members, I was quite shocked when I was told her aunt failed the home study.

This time I sit on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she will be removed from our care and placed in the care of a friend of moms.

In Texas, there is a lot of effort put into placing foster children with other family members (kinship) or with friends of the biological family (fictive kinship).  Logically, I get it.  Well to a point I get it.  There are certainly situations that don’t necessarily make sense to me, but for the most part I understand why it’s important to keep familial connections.  Emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

It’s this part of foster care that causes many people to say, “I could never be a foster parent.”  A child moves into your home and life.  You care for that child.  You get to know that child.  You begin to love that child and that love grows.  Then one day you find yourself packing their things and handing them over to a case worker because they are being moved to live with a family member, a family friend, or in the best case scenario, back to mom and/or dad.

I will not sugar coat it.  It is not easy at all!!!

So why do we put ourselves thru this?

For me, it is the realization that as much as my heart breaks when I have to say good-bye, foster children have more than just heart-break.  They are removed from the care of their parent(s) which means on top of heart-break they feel fear, confusion, and uncertainty.  They grieve the loss of their family, friends, home, pets and the life they knew.

These kid’s lives are turned upside-down and it’s my job to help them turn their lives rightside-up again.

So I do this because they need me to help them feel safe and sure.  They need to feel love and security.  They need some assurance that no matter what happens, they will be okay.

You see, this isn’t about me and what I can’t do or about my fear of having my heart-broken.  Foster parents “will” have their heart broken over and over again.  This is about the thousands of children in foster care who need me to put aside my fear of a broken heart so I can help mend little broken hearts.

While I would love to have baby girl stay in our care, what I want really isn’t a factor in what the case worker or judge will decide.  All I can do is love her while I have her.  Yes, there will be heart break and lots of tears, but at the same time I will be prepared to open my arms wide for the next little one whose heart is in need of mending.

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Be Truly Thankful

It can be extremely difficult to find anything to be thankful for in foster care and I am ever so aware of that fact today.

Last night, we accepted the placement of a 2-yr-old little boy.

Removal from your home is traumatic enough, but the circumstances surrounding his removal only added to that trauma.  Add to that the fact that happened 2 days before Thanksgiving.  On top of that, he was removed the day before his 3rd birthday.

My heart broke into a millions pieces last night as I held this scared little guy.  He could not calm down until I handed him over to hubby who gently held him and helped calm some of his fears.

Once he began to feel a little more comfortable, we were able to get him to smile and laugh.  We now know he loves being read to (makes this momma happy) and he has an awesome laugh.

He finally fell asleep and after several hours of sleep, he woke up a much happier boy.

We will celebrate his birthday today and prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  We don’t know how long he will be staying with us, but as with all the kids who come into our care, we’ll help him feel safe, secure and loved.

 

Little Bit

Little Bit turns 1 month old today and has been with us for 3 1/2 weeks now.

As of last week, she was 6 lbs 1 oz.  While I don’t know her exactly weight right now, her newborn clothes are fitting better so she has obviously continued to gain.   Don’t get me wrong, she is still swimming in her clothes for the most part, just not as much as last week.  Definitely not as much as when we first got her.  Technically, she came to us the size of a premie and I could have easily put her in premie clothes.  Being maybe a pound away from 6 lbs when she arrived, it didn’t make sense to invest in something she would grow out of so quickly.  Less than three weeks later, she would not be able to wear them.

When she came to us, she had a head full of dark hair with a slight curl.

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She still has a head full of hair, but with more curl.

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Her awake times are becoming more frequent now.  Unfortunately, some of those awake times happen late at night instead of during the day.  Such is life when a newborn is in the house.

She has given me the tiniest of smiles a few times over the past week and tonight she was trying to figure out how her mouth works to form sounds (other than crying).  So cute!!!

I’m quite sure she feels her life is perfect when she is being held and especially when I’m carrying her in the baby wrap.  She loves the coziness and being snuggled up against me while sleeping.

She hasn’t been an overly fussy baby.  She cries to be fed, changed and held.  Just wish all those moments were during daylight hours.  🙂

Lili and Naomi are in love with Little Bit and will argue over who gets to hold her.  This too shall pass.  However, Lili told me that her favorite part of foster care is having babies in the house.  She loves helping to care for them and enjoys watching them grow and change.  She recently tried to change Little Bit’s diaper.  I had to take over as she found it more difficult than changing the diaper of an older infant.

We really have no idea how long Little Bit will be staying with us.  The state pushes very hard to find a family member that will take children who come into foster care.  The family member has to have a background check and pass a home study just like foster parents do, so they don’t hand them over to just anyone.  So far one family member didn’t pass the home study and a couple of days ago I found out that another family member is being considered.

It’s possible that we won’t have her long and saying good-bye is the tough part of foster care.  However, no matter how long she’s here, we’re going to love her and enjoy our time together.

 

 

3 Weeks and 1 Day Later

We have another foster placement.

On Wednesday night, we added a baby girl to our home.

She is now 8 days old and one of the tiniest babies I’ve ever had, but oh so precious.

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She went to the doctor today and is up to a whopping 5 lbs 8 ozs.  I’m not sure how much she weighed when she was handed to us, but I know she lost weight in the hospital which put her under 5 lbs.  I’m just glad to know she’s gaining, although I expected she probably was since her eating has gotten better in the very short time we’ve had her.

Lili and Naomi are “thrilled” to have a baby in the house.  I’m also happy that she’s here, although feeling pretty tired.  It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done the up every two hours routine 🙂

Having a newborn in the house has also been a learning experience for the girls.  We’ve been able to talk about babies and how to best meet their needs.  We’re also taking a picture of Baby Girl each day and will put the pictures in a photo album so we can see just how quickly and how much she changes.

So far, so good.

Quiet Phase

Our little foster son left this week to go live with his grandma.  Baby brother wasn’t released from the hospital until a few days after grandma was granted placement of the boys, so our plans for the baby never grew to fruition.

This all happened on Tuesday.  Now it’s Friday and other than a couple of phone calls of possible placements, we currently have no foster children in our care.  Our house has been very quiet the last three days, that’s for sure.

I’m ready for a little more noise and chaos again, although the idea of kids not being removed from their homes is a pleasant thought.  Granted, I realize that is just wishful thinking.  Being bombarded with phone calls about children needing homes gives me mixed feelings.  I’m excited about the possibility of caring for children who need us and at the same time I’m depressed that so many children need us.

Thus is life of a foster parent I suppose.

 

 

Things Moved Quickly Around Here

On Monday evening the girls left.

On Tuesday, I was heading back from Illinois and received two calls from our agency with possible placements.  Because I wouldn’t be home for a few more hours, they looked elsewhere.

I arrived home early Tuesday evening and later than evening got another call from our agency.   We accepted the placement, but before our agency could get us approved, another family was selected.

On Wednesday I received two more phone calls, but didn’t accept either placement.

On Thursday, the entire day went by without a call from our agency.  After dinner, our agency called again with another potential placement.  We accepted and around 8:00 p.m. CPS came to our door with a 2-yr-old little boy.  On Monday, we’ll be getting his newborn baby brother from the hospital.

Each placement is special and challenging in different ways.  You begin learning more about the lives of these children as time goes on and my heart breaks for each of them.  No child should endure neglect or abuse, but it happens all too often.

For the little boy we have now (who I’ll AC for privacy), we are quickly figuring out what his home life.  He has learned many things that we’ll be working to correct.  I’ll need to take him in for testing to determine where he is developmentally.  He is getting used to having two older children in his daily life, which is new for him.  Soon, he’ll be getting used to having a baby brother here as well.  He must get used to new rules or possibly rules for the first time.  He is trying to get to know our family in the same way we’re getting to know him.  This is a lot for adults, let alone a two-year-old.

When certain behaviors arise, I have to remind myself that he is two and going thru more than any child should endure right now.

Parenting is challenging.  Foster parenting adds another layer to parenting challenges and we must do our best to make sure this little boy and his brother are given love, stability and a chance to reach their fullest potential while in our care.  We don’t know how long we are given to positively impact these little lives, so we must make the most of each and every day.

Moving On

After getting word that the judge granted placement of our foster daughters to their grandmother, we finally found out last Thursday that they would be moving the following Monday.  To say the timing was bad, would be an understatement as we had plans to go to Galveston and then on to Illinois from there the following day.  It was a trip that couldn’t be rescheduled, so we had to make a decision on whether or hubby stayed home or I stayed with the girls while the other travelled.  Eventually, we decided hubby would stay and I would make the trip.

On Friday morning, we got up early, got dressed, packed the van and got ready to leave.  Our precious foster daughters were still asleep, so I gave them each a kiss and told them good-bye.  Not how I wanted to say good-bye, but waking them was just not an option.

I loaded Lili, Naomi and our Illinois visitors into the van and as I was putting the address in the GPS, hubby walked out with baby girl.  I saw her and tears began rolling down my cheeks.

This baby came to us at 5 months old.  She was a little behind developmentally and going thru withdrawal from exposure to meth.  I was now saying good-bye to an 8-month-old, who was sitting up, scooting herself around on her bottom (like Lili did as a baby), and who had become very attached to us.  She grew and changed so much in three short months and saying good-bye was breaking this momma’s heart into pieces.

I got out of the van with tears streaming down my cheeks and took her from hubby.  I kissed her chubby little cheeks, told her how much I loved and said good-bye.  Then we passed her to the girls so they could say good-bye.

She had absolutely no idea what was going on and wasn’t expecting her life to change yet again.  Yet is was and I could only hope that it was changing for the better since she would be with biological family.

I got everyone settled and climbed back in the van when hubby brought out big sister.  She had woken up and was sitting in the living room when he went back in the house.

Tears again began flowing down my cheeks as I watched her say good-bye to Lili and Naomi.  She was so stoic and then she turned to me.  I picked her up and she began to sob.  She did understand what was about to happen and she had very mixed emotions about it.  She had grown to love us as much as we had grown to love her.  She found her place in our family.  She felt safe, secure and loved.  Now she was saying good-bye to three of members of the family she spent the most time with in the three months she was with us.  I was her mommy for three months and she called me mommy.  Again, I had to send her off hoping her life would somehow be better.

When our son died, someone described the pain of losing a loved one as an open hole in your heart in the shape of that person.  The edges are raw and painful in the beginning.  Then over time the edges began to heal, but that hole remains to never be filled again.

Fortunately though, the heart grows bigger, so there is always room for more love.

My heart grew with these little girls in my life, but now has two more holes.  Pieces of my heart, in the shape of two beautiful little girls have gone with them.

When we got home Tuesday evening, the girls were gone.  The house feels much larger and is very quiet, yet no one can take away the memories I have of the time we were together.

They have moved on and now we wait for our lives to be filled again with other children who need the love and safety of a new home and family.  Not children to replace our precious little girls, but children who will help our hearts grow as we learn to love and accept them into our family.

Foster care means moving on, while never forgetting those who have touched our lives.